In Cambridge Massachusetts, there are two three-year-old twins named Zyler and Kadyn who, at a glance, only have the difference of their brown and blond hair color.
You can’t even tell the gender of either child by looking at them, which is purposeful.
Zyler and Kadyns parents are raising them as “theybies” which is what their community describes as being brought up without a gender.
“A theyby is, I think, different things to different people,” Nate Sharpe told NBC News. “For us, it means raising our kids with gender-neutral pronouns — so, ‘they,’ ‘them,’ ‘their,’ rather than assigning ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘him,’ ‘her’ from birth based on their anatomy.”
This new trend in millennial parenting pushes for parents to allow their children to choose their gender once they are “old enough.”
They hope that by taking their biological gender out of the occasion, children will be shielded from “harmful” “gender stereotypes” that in turn make them too feminine or toxically male.
These millennial parents are encouraging their children to base their gender decisions off of their feelings. So if you feel like a boy on Wednesday, dress like a boy. If you feel like a girl on Thursday, dress like a girl.
They also don’t use specific pronouns and would prefer if you didn’t with their child either. They use gender-neutral pronouns like “they,” “them,” “their,” and “it” to describe their “theybie’s.”
Nate and Julia Sharp, the children’s parents, are not alone in their venture of raising their children without their genders, as they belong to a Facebook community of 220 parents across the U.S. who are doing this. There is also a hashtag on Instagram, theyby, where parents make use of it to connect.
It might sound like a small number, but it is a group of highly committed parents.
“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,” NBC News reports.
Essentially these parents are choosing to withhold the genders from the children, and all family and friends in order to not fit a specific gender.
Many people have inserted their opinions about raising “theybies” and the dangers that come with it.
“Once your child meets the outer world, which may be daycare, or preschool, or grandparents — it’s pretty much impossible to maintain a gender-free state,” Lise Eliot, professor of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School and author of “Pink Brain, Blue Brain, “And depending on how conventional your community is, you could be setting your child up for bullying or exclusion.”
When asked about their children possibly being bullied, the parents of the “theybies” said they are fine with that, because they would rather have their child be bullied than be a bully.
They’ve also received pushback from those around them, regarding raising their children gender-less.
“We definitely got more pushback from co-workers, who were like: ‘Wait, you’re not going to tell me what you’re having? You’re not going to tell me what your kids are?’” Julia said. “I’m like, ‘I’m telling you they’re children.’ But they got really, really frustrated that we wouldn’t tell them what their genitalia was, which is kind of a weird thing when you think about it.”
Only around .06% of the world’s population falls under the transgender category, but these parents want their children to pick their own genders, which has confused them already.
Recently, Zyler asked his mom what “she” and “he” meant, and her description is more than confusing for a three-year-old.
“Since we’ve tried to avoid really getting into gender until they’re old enough to understand it, I answered that ‘he’ and ‘she’ are pronouns and you use them to make sentences simpler, so instead of saying someone’s name over and over in the sentence, you’ll say ‘he’ or ‘she’ or ‘they’ instead,” she said, “and Zyler got distracted after that and moved on.”
Another “theybe” parent, Nathan Levitt, explains more:
“People are very, very invested in whether one’s child is a boy or a girl,” said Nathan Levitt, 40, a Brooklyn resident who does not disclose the sex of his 18-month-old, Zo. “It’s usually complete strangers that come up to us and say, ‘Boy or a girl?’ I think it’s been challenging because we don’t always want to have that conversation when you’re just going to the playground or taking your kids on a trip.”
Levitt described one awkward encounter him and his husband had on a flight one time when Zo was just a baby. A woman complimented them on the child, as Zo was wrapped in a pink blanket, and told them “girls are so pretty.” When they took the blanket off to reveal a blue outfit, the woman got confused and asked the gender.
“I said, ‘We didn’t actually tell you any gender that our child is — our child is going to tell us how they identify,’” he said.
The woman then told the couple that they were setting Zo up for a “difficult life,” which upset the parents.
Even though the number of parents that are raising their kids as “theybies” is so small, the growth rate is concerning for the sake of the children.