Gender Neutral – huh?

29 Jun

First of all, “Happy Pride” if you live in Toronto!

One of the most common questions I get as a pregnant woman is “do you know the gender of your baby?”
This is a problematic question for a couple of reasons (at least):

1. The term is not correct: Sex and gender are not the same thing (although they are used interchangeably)
2. Even if I knew the sex, I still wouldn’t necessarily know the gender (that is something that will become apparent over time, once this child is born)

The fact that I don’t know the sex of the child I’m carrying causes all number of shocked responses.
But when I use “they” the reactions are priceless: it starts with “twins!?” and then quizzical looks when I say “No, I’m using “they” in the gender-neutral sense” – which then requires an explanation, since most people are stuck on the idea that ‘they’ means plural. Period.

Which brings me to my point.
Last week I was having such a conversation with some family members of my parents’ generation. They didn’t get it. But the one child in the room (grade 3) was curious. So I explained gender-neutrality something like this: Some people don’t want to be in a box of “girl” or “boy” and so they don’t use he or she, they use “they” instead.

The response? She paused fora brief moment and said “that’s fair”.

End of conversation.

See more.

Copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion.





One Response to “Gender Neutral – huh?”

  1. mx. punk June 29, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    i like this post, but i do think it’s important to make a distinction between “gender-neutral” and “non-gendered.” it must be exciting being a pregant person who isn’t cissexist and binarist; the binarism and the cissexism seem to be half the fun for the pregnant people i’ve met. best wishes!

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