“Dear Who Knows Who” by Elizabeth Ruth – Accepting Your Child’s Gender-Identity in Who’s Your Daddy? And Other Writings on Queer Parenting

Who’s Your Daddy? is full of writings from parents and queer spawn across the LGBTQ spectrum, writing about their lives and motivations to promote queering the family tree and houses full of love. Whether in the piece “From Queer to Paternity: A Gay Man’s Uncharted Voyage into Co-Parenting” by Derek P. Scott, or N. Gitanjali Lena’s piece on queer parenting from the Sri Lankan Diaspora that will be in tomorrow’s post,  the conversation around LGBTQ parenting is constructively furthered in many different ways. Another example is Elizabeth Ruth’s stirring “Dear Who-Knows-Who: An Expectant Mother’s Parenting Intentions.” Excerpted here is the passage addressing the child’s gender:

Many people want to know your sex — whether you’re a boy or a girl — but we’ve opted not to know. We’ve opted for surprise; there are so few surprises anymore, and I dread the thought that once you’re born you’ll be held, judged, perceived, and valued by some according to your sex — there’s no reason for the weight of such stereotypes to press down on you now. I hope, once you are here, that we’re able to counter many of those stereotypes, and when we fail, I hope you’ll be the one to remind us. But, because sex and gender do impact all of our lives, I’ve given some thought to how I’ll respond.

If You Are A Girl:

I will hold you and squeeze you from the moment of your first breath, to imprint my scent on your skin, to smother you in affection. I will make you know that physical affection is a beautiful thing, a holy thing. I will also teach you to say “no.” Your first word should be no. It’s the most dangerous word in any language because it’s only by saying no to people that you discover what they’re really capable of. Then, I will teach you “yes” so you may embrace life fearlessly, to make adventures, to act. Too many girls are taught to be passive, to wait for excitement to come their way. If you’re a girl, I will seek to rise above my own insecurities about safety so that you are free to explore the world around you and to take risks. You will learn not to wait, because you’re entitled to share this world in full. If you’re a girl, I will teach you to perceive your body as a temple for your own pleasure and enjoyment, and never allow someone else to devalue it. I will teach you to understand that touch is a gift, pleasure is a gift, and that you are entitled to receive such gifts without any obligation. From having lesbians as parents, you’ll see that it is possible for women to respect men without revering them, that respect is earned, not a given. I will build your confidence to the sky because by the time you are a woman, the world will have stripped much of it away. You will be left with reserves. Yes, you will start high, high so that at least you may end up on even ground with others — and know that you’re the equal of any man and of other women, that you may do anything you wish to do. You will know the long line of strong women we come from, and how you can claim these women as your own, because everything that has been before, I now pass down through me to you.

If You Are A Boy:

I will hold you and squeeze you from the moment of your first breath, to imprint my scent on your skin, to smother you in affection. I will make you know that physical affection is a beautiful thing, a holy thing. I will offer, by example, pure touch, untarnished by greed or violence, so that when you reach for another — male or female — it will always be with a sense of respect for the power of human contact, and your own good fortune to be permitted entry. You will learn from me that flesh is sacred, yours and others’, and you will therefore not wish to cause it injury. Too many boys and men know touch only in the context of punishment or sex, but you will experience more. I will hope to make you a Mumma’s boy — a man who loves his mothers, respects and admires those first women in his life, so that he may respect other women, and women generally, as he moves into the wider world. I’ll teach you the difference between us — which is not the great divide most are led to believe, and I’ll learn from you, what I haven’t yet had the opportunity to learn about men. From having lesbians as parents, you’ll see that it is possible for women to respect men without revering them, that respect is earned, not a given. I’ll build your self-confidence, high, high and simultaneously teach you about entitlement — that the world is yours to explore, that you may take from it what you wish but that you must always give something back in return. Too many boys learn only about taking, and that contributes to violence. Your first word will be “yes,” so that you’ll be open to generosity and to accepting beauty, and only then will I teach you “no” — so that you may jump off into independence when the times comes. And when you do jump, you’ll take with you everything that has come before, which I now pass down through me to you.

If You Are Both Or Neither:

If you are both — a boy and a girl — or neither, or another, as yet undetermined sex, I will hold you and squeeze you from the moment of your first breath, imprint my scent on your skin, smother you in affection. I’ll make you know that physical affection is a beautiful thing, a holy thing, teach you to love your body with a religiosity so fundamental that you cannot believe anyone could find you disadvantaged. I will teach you to love and honour your physical, emotional, and intellectual self in the face of opposition, and your other mother and I will fight for your right to remain as you came to us, we’ll fight for your right to choose one or the other sex, or to reject sex and gender categories altogether, or to make up a new category that suits you best. I promise to ensure that no one — not stranger or friend — makes decisions about your gender/sex and body except for you. I will also make sure that you are not exclusively defined by your body, and have the opportunities to explore other aspects of yourself. From having lesbians as parents, you’ll see that it is possible for men and women to be equals, to love each other without revering each other, so that neither men nor women seem superior or disappointing. From having a queer family, you’ll find safety outside the thick walls of gender and sex that divide. If you are both or neither or a yet unnamed sex, I will teach you everything I would teach a boychild and a girlchild, but you will teach me more. Everything that has come before, I now pass down through me to you.

Follow the link for more about Who’s Your Daddy? And Other Writings on Queer Parenting. And be sure to check back tomorrow and Monday for posts by N. Gitanjali Lena and Jamie K. Evans.

If you want to catch the post from yesterday on Syrus Marcus Ware and his visit to the fertility clinic, click here. For Yesterday’s post from Emma Donaghue, click here.

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