A trans dad has eloquently explained why he isn’t revealing his baby’s gender until the child is old enough to share it for themselves.
Sav Butler, 20, a father of two from Portland, Maine, has opted for a genderless parenting style with his children to avoid imposing stereotypes based on their “assumed” gender.
Having struggled with his own gender throughout his childhood, Butler hopes this approach will help his children find their “true selves” sooner and be comfortable with their identity, regardless of whether they’re cis or trans.
“I’ve raised both of my children genderless until they can tell me what their gender is themselves,” he explained. “I’m not raising them non-binary because that is a gender identity as well, and the whole point is to not give them a gender identity.
“I don’t want them to be referred to as something they’re not and have their memories end up being bad, I just want them to know that they are accepted. It will also make them understand more about different identities and help them to find themselves quicker.”
What genderless parenting looks like in practice, Butler says, is allowing children to wear the clothes want and choose the activities they love “because they love them, not because it fits their assumed gender at birth”.
“We want our kids to live their lives the way they see fit, and we want them to live that life without fear of rejection. By practising genderless parenting there is less room for them to feel like they’re going to be rejected,” he continued.
“I love my kids no matter what, whether they’re in a skirt or pants or want to play football or do makeup. I just want them to be happy and be who they are… No one should be stuck in a box just because of what’s in their pants.”
Trans dad met with ‘anger and confusion’ when he doesn’t disclose baby’s gender
Butler’s oldest child, Wesley, is three and enjoys both masculine and feminine clothes and toys. He has already expressed that he is male, and the dad expects baby Eden will tell him their gender around the same age as well.
“I haven’t told anyone the assumed gender of either of my children because it’s none of their business – it’s only the business of me as the person who changes their diaper and their doctor,” he said.
“By three years old they’re talking and can understand and tell you their gender identity, so they can tell people themselves eventually.”
In the meantime he’s using a range of pronouns for the newborn, and simply shrugs off those who pressure him to do otherwise.
“When I refuse to answer what the ‘gender’ of the baby is, people are usually confused or angry,” he said. “They say it’s not my decision to make for the baby which is obviously hypocritical because babies have their genders assumed at birth every day.”
Butler now hopes to encourage other parents to consider gender-free parenting with their children, explaining that it doesn’t have to be complicated.
“Kids understand themselves more than we give them credit for. They have a grasp on gender identity by the time they are three and can express themselves and talk,” he said.
“My three-year-old probably knows more about gender than most grown adults. I use books to help explain it to them. It doesn’t have to work for everybody but it works for our family.”