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Hi! My name is Emily and I'm a writer, a wife to Nick and mother to two very sweet little girls named Daisy and Ella. We live in a quaint little town outside Philadelphia, PA, with our two black lab sisters.

 

I started this blog as a way to stay connected with friends and family after Daisy was born and it has now become a home for musings on everything from our favorite family recipes, books, travel destinations and, ultimately, my quest to balance work, life, self-care and family - all while staying grateful. Happy reading!

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Talking to Kids About Their Identity & The Gender Spectrum

July 5, 2017

One of the many things I worry about when it comes to raising children is how to create an environment supportive of self-identification when it comes to the gender spectrum. Though Nick and I identify as male and female and were fortunate enough to be born with reproductive parts that correspond with those genders, it is not so for everyone and we want to take care not to impose any gender identity onto our children.

 

One’s gender identification has a deep impact on all aspects of one’s life and for those who do not fall into a clear “born male” or “born female” bucket, society’s disapproval can be immensely challenging and I believe it’s up to us as parents to facilitate a loving, ongoing dialogue about how our children experience gender.

 

A good way to start thinking about this is as follows:

 

People tend to use the terms “sex” and “gender” interchangeably. We assign a newborn’s sex as either male or female*, based on their genitals. Once a sex is assigned, we presume the child’s gender. Someone born with a penis will be a boy and someone with a vulva will be a girl. For many people, this is cause for little, if any, concern or further thought.

 

While our gender may begin with the assignment of our sex, it doesn’t end there. A person’s gender is the complex interrelationship between three dimensions:

  • Body: our body, our experience of our own body, how society genders bodies, and how others interact with us based on our body.

  • Identity: our deeply held, internal sense of self as male, female, a blend of both, or neither; who we internally know ourselves to be.

  • Expression: how we present our gender in the world and how society, culture, community, and family perceive, interact with, and try to shape our gender. Gender expression is also related to gender roles and how society uses those roles to try to enforce conformity to current gender norms.

Each of these dimensions can vary greatly across a range of possibilities. A person’s comfort in their gender is related to the degree to which these three dimensions feel in harmony.”

- Gender Spectrum

 

At the end of the day, I will know I have done a good job as a parent when my children feel loved, supported and free to be exactly who they are, however they wish to define that. While I cannot protect them entirely from the judgment of society, I can create a home environment where my children are allowed to choose the clothes they wear, the activities they participate in, the friends they make, the music they listen to and the way they express themselves. I will always strive to an example for tolerance, love and acceptance.

 

Books For Kids

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel

Who Are You? The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee
A Fire Engine for Ruthie by Leslea Newman

Jacob's New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman

Introducing Teddy: A gentle story about gender and friendship by Jess Walton

 

 

Books For Parents

 

The Gender Creative Child: Pathways for Nurturing and Supporting Children Who Live Outside Gender Boxes by Diane Ehrensaft, PhD 

 

Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes by Christia Spears Brown

 

Gender Neutral Parenting: Raising kids with the freedom to be themselves by Paige Lucas-Stannard

 

Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine

 

Resources for the Whole Family

Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
Gay-Straight Alliance Network
Gender Spectrum
GLAAD Transgender Resources
National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
Trans Youth Family Allies (TYFA)
TransGenderCare
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health
Youth Guardian Services

Advocates for Youth

 

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