Mother Raises Three-Year-Old As Gender Neutral To Protect Them
A sex therapist who is raising her three-year-old child as gender-neutral has explained how he's as happy wearing a tutu and glittery shoes as he is playing with a toy truck.
And why not? Kids are generally happy with a cardboard box.
Kristin Hambridge, 32, is tired of 'sexist stereotypes' and has decided to let her three-year-old child, Jackson, decide for himself which gender he identifies as.
The mum's decision is fully supported by her husband, Nick, 36, a risk manager.
Kristin, from Boston, Massachusetts, said: "The other day, Jackson said to me, 'I'm a boy, but when I grow up I'll be a lady with a nose ring.'
"I have a nose ring, so it may just have been a cute mother/baby moment, but I made sure I didn't discourage him in case that's what he actually wants."
Kristin wants to protect her child from the expectations that gender stereotypes put on youngsters and planned to raise her children as fluidly as possible from the beginning.
She explained: "I didn't realise until I became a mum how gendered our culture is, and the expectations that then puts on a child.
"At the moment I'll call Jackson my son, because that's what he identifies as.
"But I've let him know that it may not always be that way, and if he did one day decide he identified more as female, I'd respect that and adjust accordingly.
"I'm raising him gender-neutral as much as I can, though. I always correct people when they use gendered language around him.
"I don't like people calling him 'little man' or having that 'boys will be boys' mentality."
Kristin started to introduce gender-neutral terms before Jackson was even born - at her baby shower, she asked guests not to give gifts that appeared 'too gendered'.
"I was actually quite worried about the baby shower," she admitted. "You see lots of gender reveals and that sort of thing, where if it's a boy it's all blue, trucks and dinosaurs, and if it's a girl, it's all pretty and pink.
"I really didn't want that, so I sent an email to guests beforehand to say my baby is male, but asking that they don't give us any nonsense boyish gifts.
"Instead, we went for a rainbow theme."
Once Jackson was born, Kristin was careful to correct people whenever they used gendered language around him, and has spoken to him at length about the importance of pronouns, as well as educating him on transgender issues.
Pronouns? We were only just starting to string sentences together at that age.
"I've raised him not to assume anybody's gender," she said. "Right now, he identifies as a boy, but at his age, that's something that's very black and white.
"There may come a day when that doesn't fit and I want him to know there's no problem with that."
One of the most important ways Kristin allows Jackson to express himself is through his clothes - something UK high street stores have come under fire for in the past, when slogans have been deemed 'sexist'.
She said: "There is such a knock-on effect to this sort of stereotyping. It creates such a rigid idea of gender.
"Boys feel like they can't express themselves and be vulnerable, because they're taught to be tough and heroic, whereas girls are told it's wrong to be outgoing or outspoken. There's a disproportionate amount of weight put on girls' looks, too.
"I try not to think of stores as having girls' and boys' sections - I just let Jackson pick out what he wants. He wears clothes and plays with toys of all types.
"He has dolls, but trucks too. Clothes-wise, he has about five tutu dresses, and some glittery shoes that he thinks are the most amazing thing ever. But there will be days when he'll want to wear shirts with dinosaurs and monsters on. I let him take the lead and run the show, dressing in what he feels comfortable in."
With much of the world still coming to terms with the concept of gender neutrality, Jackson's choice of clothing can occasionally attract the odd stare or whisper - however, Jackson has yet to experience any real negativity.
Kristin is anxious, however, in case he becomes a target for teasing as he grows older and starts school.
She explained: "I do have some anxiety about that. I worry he'll be taunted, or that teachers will treat him differently, because of their own bias.
"But I will cross that bridge when I come to it, and support him no matter what. Raising a child gender neutral is all about giving them all the options, then letting them decide who they are.
"In my line of work, I see a lot of people develop gender issues later in life because they felt stifled, and weren't allowed to express who they were when they were little. I really want to get away from all that."
As long as everyone's happy, we're happy.
Featured Image Credit: PA Real Life