Parent defends decision to raise one-year-old as gender neutral 'theyby'

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor

A parent has defended their decision to raise their child as gender neutral.

Ari Dennis, 30, from Florida, who personally identifies as non-gender-binary, is mother to Hazel, eight, and Sparrow, one.

Appearing on ITV’s ‘Good Morning Britain’ earlier today, they spoke of their decision to raise Sparrow as a gender-neutral “they-by”, using the pronouns of “they/them” rather than “she” or “he”.

They told Piers Morgan: “We do not know what Sparrow’s gender is yet and, as regards to their anatomy, we choose to keep that secret except for a small list of caregivers.”

The decision was inspired by their daughter Hazel, who, at the age of four, told their parents they wished to be identified as non-binary.

Piers was unimpressed with the Ari’s decision, calling it “ridiculous”.

He said: “I’m sorry to be a stick in the mud here. A two year old child hasn’t got a Scooby Doo about any of this stuff.

“The idea that you as a parent would event countenance the idea that a two year old child has any ability to form a serious conception of gender is ridiculous and actually damaging to that child.”

Ari Dennis is raising their child as gender neutral. [Photo: ITV]

Dennis responded by calling it “toxic” to raise children with a gender.

They said: “Well then in that case if a two year old child has no ability to conceptualise what a gender isn’t it toxic that at two you’re telling someone you’re a boy because of their anatomy.

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“If a two year old as a boy has no conception of what that is, doesn’t it make more sense that if a two year old doesn’t have any ability to process what it is I don’t process what gender is I let them be what they are which is a toddler. Which is really more toxic?”

Dennis has since told Yahoo UK that they think gender neutral parenting is “gaining momentum”.

They told us: “I feel that the ideas behind gender-neutral parenting are not as foreign as some people might initially feel and many people do let their children play with toys or wear clothing without restriction even if they don’t call it “gender-neutral parenting”.

“Using they/them pronouns for one’s baby is not as common but is continuing to gain momentum,” they added.

 

You can find out more about Dennis’ parenting on their Facebook page.

The issue has proved a heated one on Twitter, with some calling Dennis’ parenting stance “cruel” and “damaging”.

However, some defended Dennis for standing her ground on the issue of gender neutrality.

Back in 2017, musician Paloma Faith hit headlines after announcing she would be raising her baby as gender neutral.

She later opened up to Yahoo UK in an exclusive interview where she explained what this meant for her.

“The singer isn’t raising her child without telling them their gender; instead, she simply wants to ’empower’ her child by not giving them gendered toys or clothing.

“It’s wrong to constrain your child to a gender stereotype,” she explains. “A child just needs to be who they are and not labelled. My nephews always had a pushchair and a doll, growing up, and they’re kind boys with a lot of empathy.”