washing my hands of baby gender

White baby with blue eyes in a hooded sweater.

Yesterday, my husband and I went to the mall to find our annual matching Christmas outfits.

We were really excited to get our matching outfits since we have a new addition to the crew this year! Our first baby just turned eight months old yesterday.

Our daughter is truly adorable. Yesterday, while I was wearing her in one of my carriers so she could face out and see the world and smile at all of the people as she likes to do, I had the following exchange with an elderly woman:

Woman: “What an adorable baby!”
Me: “Thanks. We sure think so!”
Woman: “He could be a Gerber baby.”
Me: “I may be biased, but I think Millie is the cutest baby to ever live.”

Another exchange:

Woman: “What a cute little boy!”
Me: “Oh, she’s just the cutest!”
Woman: “Oh, she, I’m sorry!”
Me: “Eh, who cares?”

This happened at least five times just in the span of 10 minutes while I walked around wearing her on my chest. Every single person I came into contact with called my infant child “he.” It wasn’t a big deal to me, and I wasn’t trying to intentionally correct people when I would then refer to my baby as “Millie” (which to me seems to be obviously a feminine name) or “she.” Because I really don’t care if people misgender my baby–a tiny human who has been dressed by another person and has made none of their own decisions about how they are dressed.

You see, Millie was wearing a Green Bay Packers sleep & play in the team’s colors. It wasn’t pink or some other color perceived as feminine. Of course, if she had been wearing the pink Green Bay Packers onesie we have for her, people would have known. Side note: the pink onesie says “Daddy loves the Packers, but I’m his MVP.” As though a little girl couldn’t just like a football team–it has to be about what daddy likes. Of course, an infant doesn’t like football yet; it’s the principle of the thing!

White family (man, woman and infant) wearing Green Bay Packers clothing.

But the thing is: it doesn’t even matter to me if people seem to misgender my child. Because the fact of the matter is, I don’t even know my child’s gender. I won’t know until she tells me. It won’t become a problem for me unless sometime in the future, people keep misgendering her according to what she would like to be called and she expresses having a problem with it. It is not up to me.

It may be most likely that my child’s gender identity matches up with the fact that she was assigned female at birth, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be open to the fact that it absolutely may not. I have no idea who this person is going to become, and I’d much rather have her feel safe expressing it so she doesn’t feel like her true self is pushed down.

We chose not to try to raise Millie using gender-neutral pronouns, but when she’s a little older and can understand, we will have a conversation with her about gender, what it means, and why we call her “she” for the time being and that sometimes that little dress I put her in was just too cute to pass up. And that however she feels about her gender and what she wants to be called is up to her.

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