Courtesy Reaca Pearl
6 Things Genderqueer Parents Want You To Know

by Reaca Pearl

I'm a genderqueer mom of three pretty cool human beings, if I do say so myself. As such, I'd like to let you in on the things every genderqueer parent wants you to know. Of course, it's worth mentioning just how complicated a task that truly is, because every genderqueer parent is different. Not only are they different in their parenting, but they're different in what being genderqueer means to them.

As a society, we generally accept that mothers are all different from one another. So when we, as mothers, share our stories, most people are quick to assume that the person doing the sharing is speaking from her own, unique experience as a mother and not speaking for all mothers everywhere. However, assumptions become problematic when there's a less mainstream identity, like "genderqueer parent," involved. As a society, our assumption then, generally, is that the person sharing is speaking for all genderqueer parents everywhere. However, just like you dear reader, I can only speak from my personal, lived experiences.

I, like most of us, inhabit many different roles. I am a mother, a trauma therapist, a mindful-empowerment coach, a Reiki Master, an inspiring yogini, a partner, an amateur chia-seed-pudding maker, a hammock-layer-inner, and many other things. I'm also a genderqueer person. Genderqueer is a pretty expansive term that basically means someone for whom the traditional gender binary doesn't fit. My relationship to and experience of my gender is ever-expansive as I continue on my life-long journey of self-discovery. So, as a genderqueer parent, this is what I want you to know:

My Gender Doesn't "Make" My Child Into Anything

Courtesy Reaca Pearl

Just like cisgender people don't make their children cis- or transgender, and just like straight parents don't make their children gay or bisexual, genderqueer parents don't make their children cis- or transgender. Or gay. Or straight. Or anything else.

Sometimes I can't even get my children to pick up after themselves, but I'm going to change their fundamental gender identity or sexual orientation? Um. Nope.

I Believe There Is No Box Genderqueer Needs To Fit Into

Genderqueer is a term I use to define my experience of my gender. That's it. It has nothing to do with anyone else and I can't speak for any other people who define themselves as genderqueer. There is no genderqueer box because, well, that's kind of the point.

I Believe Forced Conforming Hurts People

I'm not trying to destroy anyone's identity, binary or not. What deconstruction of the forced attachment to the gender binary means, to me, is that we no longer assume all humans fit within these narrow boxes of "male" and "female." These boxes are constraining and painful for everyone, even binary cisgender people.

The truth is that there are as many ways to experience gender as there are ways to experience humanity. So, instead of forcing people to conform, I say let's let people be who they are.

I Have No Agenda About Anyone Else's Gender

I hear this argument a lot, and especially since my child began to reveal her true gender to my partner and I and we unconditionally supported her.

People of the world, hear this: I have enough on my daily plate without worrying about anyone else's gender. The only thing I care about is that everyone's gender is respected and people of all (or no) genders are able to live peacefully and free, without fear of violence or discrimination.

My Choice To Be A Parent Helped Me Face My Gender

Courtesy Reaca Pearl

I was (thankfully) raised to smash the patriarchy and defy traditional gender roles. However, it wasn't until I was a teenager that I learned about the existence of intersex people. It wasn't until I was in college that I learned about transgender people. Both communities were spoken about in hushed tones, as if they were something to be ashamed or afraid of. When a group of people is stigmatized in this way, there's probably some serious oppression at work.

It baffled me how we could learn about "boys," "girls," and all their private, baby-making parts in elementary school, but we never spoke about the full biology of sex, or the full galaxy of gender. I felt betrayed by this massive, contrived societal omission.

When my 5-year-old child shared her true gender with me, I was in for another level of self-exploration. Her bravery allowed me to confront a personal discomfort I had heretofore steered off the highway to avoid.

My daughter taught me to be proud of who I fully am, not just the parts of me that others can understand or deem acceptable. I'm still driving, and I'm still discovering.

My Gender Doesn't Make Me A Bad (Or Good) Parent

Courtesy Reaca Pearl

My gender doesn't really have anything to do with whether I'm a good or bad parent. Just like my sexual orientation, my hair color, my GPA in high school, or any other personal trivia don't really, in and of themselves, have anything to do with whether I'm a good or bad parent.

What makes any parent good or bad? I'll share my ideas about it if you share yours. OK? I'll start: A parent is measured by the amount of love, kindness, and discipline they show, coupled and balanced with the compassionate teaching of our children to love themselves, the world, and each other. Now, your turn.