While sitting together on the couch recently, my child said, “Mom, I think I’m gender fluid.” I immediately responded by saying, “Oh, that’s cool, do you want me to use different pronouns?” They said yes to please start using they/them but that some days they may ask me to use she/her or he/him.
I must admit, I felt really, really proud of my child and I felt like this was a parenting win. They knew they could talk to me about their gender identity, and they would have my absolute full support.
They are struggling to tell a few other adults in their life who they are afraid are homophobic and transphobic, but I can see in my child they are relieved and excited to have this information out.
I’m not even one bit surprised. They went through a period a few years ago where they wanted to wear button downs and ties and cut their hair short. I remember how they thought it was so unfair that the only place we could find ties were in the boy’s section. They have always been acutely aware of gender stereotypes and how unfair they can be.
When they were in kindergarten, they wrote a letter to the principal because they were upset that during spirit week, certain colors were used (like pink and blue) instead of using more gender-neutral colors.
When they were 7, they dressed up as the pink crayon from The Day the Crayons Quit and held a “Dear Duncan, I quit!” sign because they agreed with the pink crayon being upset with Duncan that he perceived pink as a “girls color.”
They told me earlier this year that they feel most comfortable with people in the LGBTQIA+ community.
They have been reminding me for years to not automatically gender people because we cannot know someone’s gender identity based on their outer appearance.
They teach me so much.
While I find myself stumbling sometimes to correct myself when I accidentally say she/her, I just fix it right away because the ownness is on me to make sure that I’m using the correct gender pronouns, it’s not on them to remind me.
There is so much about the pre-teen years that I find challenging, but I love seeing my child discovering who they are. I am here for all of it, and I will forever and always support them in living their full, authentic life.
That’s what parenting is: loving, accepting, and supporting our children in the discovery of their true selves.