Clothes don’t have a gender

And that makes some folks really mad.

Photo: John Lewis (and awesome clothing company)

When I wrote that I didn’t know if my nearly-two-year old was a boy or a girl, I got a lot of really loving feedback. It was easy to forget that I live in a bubble that understands some really basic things like neither sex nor gender is a binary.

Sex and gender, a primer.

For a great place to catch up on the wide and wondrous ways that sex and gender are much more complicated than our language usually suggest, read Julia Serano (as a great start):

As a parent, it’s my job to make as much space for my kid to learn about how they want to be a person in the world.

A big part of being a person is figuring out how you want to present your self. The most flexible part of presentation is the clothes you choose.

My kid is still to young to make most of their decisions. I wipe butts, make food, and buy clothes. But that’s all starting to change. (Fingers crossed for potty training at 24 months!)

When I buy clothes — on or offline — I’m usually given two choices: Boys or Girls. It sucks.

In these categories the clothes are usually really gendered.

What do I mean?

Ugggggggggg. These are awful in so many layers.

When I’m looking for clothes for the baby I usually gravitate toward the ‘Girls’ section and find the least gendered options. It works well enough I guess but I’m sure we can do better.

A better way to do clothes for babies.

I love this so much.

YES. This is such a simple, structural acknowledgement of what I was looking for — kids are kids, gender is a thing you do, making kids perform gender is dumb, lazy, and, for some, actively harmful.

I have many friends whose experience of growing up in rigidly constructed gender roles was traumatizing. Many have spent years in therapy and community learning new ways to feel safe and feel seen for who they are and want to be.

I have read many more stories from trans and gender non conforming people that have made it clear that this isn’t just a problem in my friend-bubble.

Reading the comments collected by the author in response to a move that makes the shopping a more supportive space for kids was a real bummer but it reminded me that we’ve got work to do.

All the trans and gender non-conforming people I know had cis parents.

That’s why I’m doing this work.

Both for my kid and in conversation with you.

Because our kids deserve better than what they’ve got right now and it’s on us to make it for them.

How do you make room for your kids?

Where do you shop for clothes that don’t suck?

How do you dress your kids?

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