'Theybies': Letting Children Decide Their Gender

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With Budd Mishkin

Is your baby a boy or a girl? Maybe, it’s a “theyby.” We’ll look at raising children without a gender designation.


Alex Morris, contributing editor to New York Magazine. (@AlexMorrisNY)

Nate Sharpe, father raising twin theybies, Zyler and Kadyn.

Lise Eliot, professor of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School. Author of "Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps — And What We Can Do About It." (@Lise_Eliot)

Eugene Beresin, executive director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds, child and adolescent psychiatrist. (@GeneBeresinMD)

From The Reading List

NBC News: "'Boy or girl?' Parents raising 'theybies' let kids decide" — "Three-year-old twins Zyler and Kadyn Sharpe scurried around the boys and girls clothing racks of a narrow consignment store filled with toys. Zyler, wearing rainbow leggings, scrutinized a pair of hot-pink-and-purple sneakers. Kadyn, in a T-Rex shirt, fixated on a musical cube that flashed colorful lights. At a glance, the only discernible difference between these fraternal twins is their hair — Zyler’s is brown and Kadyn’s is blond.

"Is Zyler a boy or a girl? How about Kadyn? That’s a question their parents, Nate and Julia Sharpe, say only the twins can decide. The Cambridge, Mass., couple represent a small group of parents raising “theybies” — children being brought up without gender designation from birth. A Facebook community for these parents currently claims about 220 members across the U.S."

The Cut: "It’s a Theyby! Is it possible to raise your child entirely without gender from birth? Some parents are trying." — "For a small but growing cohort of parents — ones who see gender as a spectrum rather than a binary — the unisex movement of the ’60s and the “gender neutral” parenting trends that have followed have come up woefully short. For them, society’s gender troubles cannot be solved by giving all children dolls and trucks to play with or dressing them all in the color beige; the gender binary must not simply be smudged but wholly eradicated from the moment that socialization begins, clearing the way both for their child’s future gender exploration and for wholesale cultural change."

Women In The World: "Parents of ‘theybies’ explain why they are concealing the genders of their children" — "According to a 2012 survey, roughly one in four elementary schoolers said they saw gender-nonconforming classmates being bullied — and a similar 2015 study found that more than 95 percent of LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 21 reported that they had been told they weren’t “masculine” or “feminine” enough. But for parents of theybies, these risks are worth the benefits of allowing their children the chance to determine their identity for themselves."

It’s a real thing. Boys and girls get different messages from the day they’re born. So, why not do something to stop those stereotypes? One idea that’s getting some traction is to raise not babies, but "theybies," children brought up without gender designations. Let the child decide if its gender is a boy or a girl. Is it a noble effort to shield a child from gender stereotypes or a choice that will only lead to more confusion?

This hour, On Point: Raising theybies.

— Budd Mishkin

This program aired on July 24, 2018.


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