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BOOK REVIEW: ‘Raising Them’

Queer author Kyl Myers chose not to enforce gender norms onto her infant.

‘Raising Them’ author Kyl Myers

Pink or blue?

When you’re pregnant, everybody asks that question. What kind of clothing or toys will you require: dolls or trucks? They’ll want to know about the gender-reveal party, and the kind of names you’re considering.

And if you take a cue from the new book Raising Them by Kyl Myers, you might decide to ask them if they’d mind not knowing your baby’s gender for a few years.

Long before she ever became a mother—even before she met and married her husband, Brent—Kyl Myers had thought about what she calls “gender-creative parenting.”

Myers identifies as queer (and somewhat of an activist), so she was aware that society places too much emphasis on the chromosomes of an infant. After all, a child’s intimate body parts have nothing to do with simply being a child. So during Myers’ pregnancy, she and her husband decided that they would raise their child “gender-free.”

They aren’t the first parents to do so. Parents around the world have gone public with their enthusiasm for successful gender-creative parenting. Still, it took plenty of determined pre-planning: Myers would deny knowledge of the baby’s gender to anyone who didn’t absolutely need to know. That meant restricting diaper duty, and making sure the four grandparents wouldn’t know their grandchild’s gender until the child was several months old.

Once Zoomer Coyote entered the world, there would be no pink or blue bassinet cards in the hospital nursery. Myers learned to find non-gendered infant and toddler clothing (and even neutral-hued toys) for her child—items that didn’t scream Boy! or Girl!. Zoomer’s daycare was “cool” with the neutrality, but strangers and other parents were a problem when Myers challenged them to open their minds.

Raising Them could be an emotional read, depending on which side of the debate you stand on. The writing is intriguing but exhausting, and too chirpy, sunny, and precious by half. Myers’ cute-little-Zoomer tales wear thin after a very short while.

And yet, the idea of giving your child time to know themself is intriguing. Author Kyl Myers should be commended for not throwing in the towel, even though her struggles were exactly what you might expect.

Clearly, gender-creative parenting involves work, vigilance, and forethought, and while it’s not for everyone, it’s a compelling enough idea to stick in your mind like glue. You might be persuaded that it’s worth a try, even if only sometimes.

And if you can’t rest without knowing, Myers does drop a few hints to soothe your boy-or-girl curiosity. In fact, she has even created a website-supported, mind-opening, ongoing tale for parents-to-be, or for anyone who wishes they’d been raised in a similar kind of household.

Raising Them by Kyl Myers is now available on Amazon.

This article appears in the February 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Terri Schlichenmeyer

Terry Schlichenmeyer is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.
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