Leibee: Assigning genders at birth is okay

Katrina Leibee

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

In 2018, NBC news released an article about two children that were raised genderless. “Theybies,” as some call them, are children raised with no gender and allowed to choose their gender later in life. While there are still few parents who raise their children as genderless, it is becoming a more and more popular method of parenting.

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Even with this trend increasing, it should still be seen as okay to assign babies genders at birth. Raising children inside a gender norm is not a bad thing as long as parents give their children the opportunity to push the boundaries of their gender, change their gender and explore their own identity freely.

raising children inside a gender norm is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as parents give their children the opportunity to push the boundaries of their gender, change their gender, and explore their own identity freely.”

The topic of gender is discussed and debated every day, even on Colorado State University’s campus. “Gender in our lives” is an honors seminar this semester, a class within CSU’s honors program that has brought up a lot of discussion, especially regarding this topic. The syllabus describes the course’s objectives.

“Using a feminist theoretical lens, students will learn about historical and contemporary social movements that have influenced the evolution of gender roles, psychological theories of gender and identity development, family and intimate relationships, and representation of gender in the media.”

“In my class I heard someone say it would be really nice to raise someone without gender, but they don’t really see it as possible with our current society,” Amy Meredith said, a first year communication studies major who is currently in the honors seminar.

Gender is something that is constantly expanding, as society has pushed the boundaries of the gender binary and discovered that there are more than two genders. Every exploration of gender is valid, and gender is always something that we should respect. However, it might be more confusing to raise a child without a gender than helpful.

Having a gender gives us a foundation to build our identity off of, whether we stick to it or stray from it completely. The American College of Pediatricians calls it “an essential characteristic of our identity as human beings.” Gender often gives us groups to identify with and people to look up to that a genderless society would not.

When we are children, we are just beginning to make sense of the world, and we have little understanding of what an identity is, let alone what the fluid scale of gender is or where we stand in it. It is okay to assign a gender to a child based on their sex in order to give them a sense of identity, as long as we allow them to explore outside of that assigned gender as they grow older.

“I think a lot of us strongly identify with our gender, so being genderless would just wipe away a lot of our identities,” Meredith said. While it is true that not everyone strongly identifies with a specific gender, this is often something that is not truly understood or identified until later in life, not as a young child.

Some argue that it is better to not assign children genders at birth, and that assigning gender can often lead to gender dysphoria. While gender dysphoria is a very real and present thing, we shouldn’t deprive children of genders in fear of it.

Further, this matter should be one that is relatively private. If someone wants to assign their daughter the gender of female and raise her in a pink room with dolls, that is their choice and there is nothing wrong with it as long as they always allow that child to explore outside of their gender.

Gender is often one of the most important ways someone identifies themselves, and assigning gender gives a child a starting point to figuring out who they are.

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Katrina Leibee can be reached at letters@collegian.com or Twitter @KatrinaLeibee.