Gender is a social construct. Still, people — as a whole — are very invested in gender. It’s not our fault. From the moment we’re born (and sometimes before), assumptions are being made about who we are, simply based on our sex. But sex and gender are two distinct things, as parents of children who grow up to be transgender (hopefully) know. So, when your OB-GYN points to the ultrasound screen to reveal the sex, it doesn’t and shouldn’t really change anything. Just as if you were told you're having a boy, there are many things you don’t have to do when you’re having a “girl.”
Of course, because of how so many of us have been raised and because of how our culture is continually defined, it’s difficult not to make assumptions and preparations that are gender-based. Most of us wait until at one specific moment during an ultrasound (or during a gender reveal party, if that's your thing) to decide on what to name our child, or to begin buying baby stuff that seems more “fitting," according their assigned gender. Some of us even experience a touch of gender disappointment, not realizing that it’s our child who will inevitably decide what gender they are.
However, at the end of the day we should never feel pressure to act one way or another, simply based on what sex the doctor says out future child will be. So if you’re baby is assigned female, don’t assume you have to do any of the following:
Tell Everyone, “It’s A Girl!”
I’m not sure why nearly everyone asks what the sex of your fetus is, but they do and it’s your right not to tell anyone if you don’t feel like it. At the end of the day, sharing the sex is irrelevant. Your child might be female, but may or may not identify as the gender you choose for them. Telling people you have a girl just starts the seemingly never-ending barrage of expectations and assumptions from the get go.
Paint Their Nursery Pink
Not all girls like pink. Not all boys hate pink. Some men love pink. Some women love pink. Who made up this “rule” that all girl stuff needs to be pink? It’s all a bunch of nonsense.
Buy A Bunch Of Dresses From The Girl’s Section...
There’s really no such thing as “boy’s clothes” and “girl’s clothes." Still, we live in a society that still can’t let go of that idea. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going out and buying up cute dresses, or other outfits, you shouldn’t feel obligated to dress your future child a certain way.
...Or A Ton Of Bows So They Looks “More Like A Girl”
People mistake my toddler son for a girl all the time because his hair is a little longer than other boys have theirs. It’s never bothered me and I don’t even go out of my way to correct them. After all, he's a 2-year-old toddler and I actually have no idea if he’ll decide for himself that he is, in fact, a boy or not.
I’ve met lots of moms who freak out when people think they have baby boys though, especially when their daughters have little-to-no hair. So they buy a bunch of bows so people have a better idea. But really and truly, who cares?
Pick Out Her Name Based On Their Sex
Just as there’s no real definition of boy’s and girl’s clothes or toys, there’s no hard rule that says Lillian is a girl’s name and Jonathan is a boy’s name. Feel free to name your child whatever the hell you want. Be like Gwyneth and name them after a fruit, or pick out a name that is frequently used for boys, girls, and other genders.
Start Calling Them “Princess” In The Womb
Again, call your kids whatever you want, but don’t feel the need to buckle under the pressure of raising a “little princess.” Yes, your mother or uncle or cousin might want to continuously call them their little princess, but you don’t actually have to.
If the word comes out organically, more power to you. I’m personally partial to giving kiddos nicknames after wild creatures like monkeys and dinosaurs because they usually resemble those more in my eyes (I say this in the most loving manner).
Decide They Won’t Share Your Love Of Sports
Why on earth would anyone assume a little girl won’t like sports? If you’re an avid sports fan, feel free to share your love of the game (whatever game, all the games) with your child. Boy or girl or other gender, your child will love sharing your interests.
Pad Your Library With Princess Books And Movies
You don’t need to automatically give in to the hypnotic stares of the Disney princesses while your child is still in utero. Obviously if you’re really into princesses, it’s totally fine, but it’s not necessary. Those who wouldn’t be caught dead singing along to Frozen, feel free to buy your kids books about activism or animals or anatomy instead. It’s all good.
Assume They’ll Someday Date Or Marry A Boy
First, if you’re having a female child, they may or may not actually identify as a girl. Second, even if they do identify as a girl, there’s no guarantee they’ll be heterosexual. They might be a lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, or queer in any other way. Why do we even think about this stuff when our little ones aren’t even here yet?
Despair That The “Family Name” Will Be Lost
Let me quote Billy Shakespeare here and say, “What’s in a name, that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Maybe it’s just me, but I was never wholly attached to my last name, my “family name.” It’s my father’s last name, which was his father’s, and so on.
As a feminist, I never thought I would change mine upon marriage, but I did because I happened to like my husband’s name and had grown tired of a pseudonym I used to use. Some people (namely dads) tend to worry that their “legacy,” or whatever, will be lost because their daughters won’t be able to carry on their name.
Let's clear this up: their daughters can do whatever they want and at the end of the day, why should this matter or be blamed on daughters?
Worry That They’ll Be More “Costly” To Raise
The jokes about women not knowing how to manage money, and about women spending more money, are boring and unimaginative. However, it is true that there is a Pink Tax, or rather, that women’s products tend to cost more than men’s (and there generally seems to be more variety — just walk into any clothing store). That said, you can spend the same amount on your sons as you do on your daughters and vice versa.
Assume They’ll Never Be “As Gross As A Boy...”
Believe me when I say that all babies and toddlers and little kids in general can be (and will be) gross. Learning to eat, learning to urinate in a toilet, learning to cover their mouths when they couch; it all makes for a messy lifestyle. Boys are not any “grosser” than girls. Nothing inherent in that.
...Or That They’ll Somehow Be Easier Or Harder To Care For Than A Boy
I’ve heard so many moms tell me that it’s just “easier” to raise boys, but I don’t buy it. It all depends on how you raise your child.
If you raise a girl to be materialistic and to throw tantrums when she doesn’t get her way and that the world revolves around her, then yes, it will be difficult, just as it would if you raise a boy the same way. Some kids bring along more challenges through no fault of their own, but on the whole, your boys and your girls won’t vary in difficulty when it comes to raising them.
Get Scared About The World You’re Bringing Them Into
No one is denying it is a scary world in which to raise little girls, but that doesn’t mean you have to be terrified from day one about parenting a potential daughter. Little girls will someday run the world, so let's all just get on board with doing the work of feminists past and focus on a positive future.