Gender Stories

Gender creative parenting: a conversation with Kyl Myers

October 06, 2020 Alex Iantaffi Season 3 Episode 43
Gender Stories
Gender creative parenting: a conversation with Kyl Myers
Show Notes Transcript

Alex Iantaffi talks gender and parenting with Dr. Kyl Myers, a sociologist, educator, and globally recognized advocate of gender creative parenting. Kyl’s TEDx talk, Want Gender Equality? Let’s Get Creative, encourages people to rethink childhood gender socialization in an effort to break up the binary before it begins. Kyl is the creator of www.raisingzoomer.com and the @raisingzoomer Instagram account, advocating for letting kids be kids in an environment where everything is for everyone. Kyl has been featured in articles in international media, including New York, HuffPost UK, and MamaMia. Kyl lives with their family in Salt Lake City, Utah, and can be found providing bite-size gender studies lessons on their @kyl_myers Instagram account. They can also be found at kylmyers.com. Raising Them: Our Adventure in Gender Creative Parenting is their first book from TOPPLE Books.

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Hosted by Alex Iantaffi
Music by Maxwell von Raven
Logo by Lior Allen

Intro:

Everyone has a relationship with gender. What's your story? Hello and welcome to Gender Stories with your host, Dr. Alex Iantaffi.

Alex Iantaffi:

Hello and welcome to another episode of gender stories. Today I am thrilled and I know I'm thrilled excited but what can I tell you gender stories listeners, all my interviewees are just that amazing. So today I'm here with Dr. Kyl Myers. They're a sociologist, educator, globally recognized advocate of gender creative parenting, and they have a TEDx talk in title 'want gender equality, let's get creative'. Kyl encourages people to rethink childhood gender society socialization, in an effort to break up the binary before it begins. They're the creator of www.raisingzoomer.com and don't worry, I'll have those links in the episode description. And @raisingzoomer Instagram account. They advocate for letting kids be kids in an environment where everything is for everyone. Kyl has been featured in articles in international media, including New York, HuffPost, UK, and Mamma Mia, who lives with their family currently in Salt Lake City, Utah, and can be found providing bite size gender studies lessons on thier at Kyl Meyers Instagram account. They can also be found at kylmyers.com. They have a book that's just come out like last week raising them or adventure in gender creative parenting. And it's their first book from top of books. And I am so excited I get to talk to them about their book and about parenting a gender creative way. So welcome onto the show Kyl.

Kyl Myers:

Thanks so much for having me, Alex.

Alex Iantaffi:

So let's talk about the book. First of all, I mean, it's come out last week, so it's fresh off the press, you must be excited about it. It looks amazing. But I want you to give the overview of what is the Book about why you wrote it kind of just take it away.

Kyl Myers:

Great. So the book is raising them our adventure in gender creative parenting, it is a memoir, it's a our story, it's my story about kind of my childhood and my upbringing, and how that really shaped how I learned about gender. And how I, you know, socialized myself in a very binary way. And, you know, kind of covers, you know, me going to school and learning more about gender and meeting my partner Brent and, and knowing that I wanted to do gender creative parenting years before I ever became a parent, and wishing that there would have been books like this out there when I was, you know, thinking about becoming a parent or pregnant or in that, especially that first year of parenting, when everything feels upside down. But the book really just goes over like the conversations that Brent and I had about why we wanted to do gender creative parenting, having to talk to our family and friends about it. And then it goes through I think a lot of the the things that people have questions about about what is this look like in real life of parenting a child without having assigned a gender to them, and trying to teach them about gender in a really broad and inclusive, expansive way. And so it's about you know, Zoomer going to preschool and how we navigated that, how we navigate extracurricular activities, how we shop for clothing for them, you know, the decisions we made about hair, like all all those, you know, things that I think people think about it, like, how do you actually pull this off. And so, it's just told through storytelling and it's a happy story. And I think that the world definitely needs a lot more happy, queer, non binary stories, because there's so many. There's so many of them. So. So that's what the book is about. It's about our experience, right? Like this one family's experience doing gender creative parenting, and how we have pulled it off. And it's the best parenting decision I made. I mean I think I just feel really, really grateful that we've had such a loving, supportive community, you know, and been able to have such a lovely life to be able to write about it and share about it and it's been so wonderful that it's out for a week now because I'm getting the feedback from readers you know, of just how people young people are reading it with their parents and it's, it's they're able to like start a conversation about their own non binary identity. And it's kind of this framework, right? Like, I like being able to have this conversation with these parents. And I just think that that's so wonderful that this book is helping be this conversation starter between like young people and their parents, or therapists or grandparents of gender creative kids, or whatever, whoever, right? Like, I just am so honored that it's having an impact on a lot of different people's lives in different ways.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely. And isn't that the best feeling I remember, last fall, when we could still be in public together, I was at the Chicago Humanities Festival, and to do an event for Life Isn't Binary. And one of the things that moved me so much was that young adults were there with their parents, you know, because they wanted them to be exposed to this idea of life isn't binary, and that the team was power. And we were just talking about power and no, and approaching life in a non binary way, not just gender. And that was one of the most moving things, seeing young people with their parents with this book going, this is one way we can talk about and so absolutely, we need so many more books. And now I'm like, now I can recommend them pick up also this other book, you know, if you want to talk to your parents about this, and it's just the impact on readers, right? And it's just the best feeling absolutely. I am curious about the tender process of writing personal things. I know that for me, like how to understand your gender, there is some personal stuff, but life in the binary as some tender content. And yours is a memoir. So I'm imagining there's so much to navigate, you know, respecting your child's consent and confidentiality, your partners, your family, your community, your own heart, you know, when you put this your life really out there for readers? What was that process like for you?

Kyl Myers:

Yeah. I it's felt, like terrifying and exciting at the same time. We, we, I felt so responsible for being a public advocate for gender creative parenting. And a big part of that was because of like my my background. I have a PhD in Sociology, I teach gender and sexuality in university settings, I just could see, I was like, just watching as this gender revolution was just gaining so much momentum over the last 10 years, right. And it seems like every single year, we have more like exponential awareness and growth and acceptance of like the, of the gender spectrum. So we stayed under the radar, like the mainstream radar for a long time, I had the blog that was originally written for our parents, and you know, in our family and our friends and our co workers of like, instead of us having to have conversations with every single one of you. I just feel like all right, these little accessible essays, you know, that you can consume on your own time, and then ask me questions and things. And so all of our, like, advocacy and education was really originally meant for our close circle. But then those people in our close circle were like, well, my hairstylist is pregnant and really interested in how you're parenting. Can they have access to the blog? You know, and so, it just kept growing, and people were interested in, in our story, and, and so, I had done an interview with New York Magazine in early 2018, and with a bunch of other gender creative families, and our family kind of got like, plucked out and kind of taken on the viral media ride. And it was largely because we had like a public Instagram account and a blog. And that changed everything, you know, like that kind of took us into a new level of visibility. And that is when Joey Solloway was putting together this imprint, Topple and was looking for, you know, queer voices and, and these stories that were trying to topple the patriarchy. So they, you know, they said, You know, I'd love to help you get your story out into the world and it felt like a good time I felt like my story was kind of getting out of my control, you know, and taken by the media and so I wrote this book and and I'm so grateful that I got to write this book and I think everybody should write their book, their story because it was through having to set aside the time to like critically think through my own childhood and my own adolescence and young adulthood and my on how I got to these decisions of wanting to parent Zoomer this way. That like it all came together. I think I was able to like crack into some like not like, I mean it gets maybe psychoanalyze you get over it, like really being able to, like, think through my own story and why I wanted to do it this way. But I wanted to parent this way. Starting to write it was hard. But as it's like working a muscle, you know, like, as the few months would go on, something would happen with Zoomer. And I would be able to sit down and write about it, you know, and so some of these stories that are in raising them are, like, I'm having to recall, you know, like, from years, decades ago to tell the story. And then some of the chapters are like, I just wrote this the day after, you know, it as I was processing the experience. And so, that felt good. And I wanted to write this in a way that like, was talking more about how I am parenting, right, like the experience of having to, as a parent, you have to create this environment, right? Like, instead of trying to totally put a magnifying glass on Zoomer, right, like, I really want to respect their autonomy with how they tell their own story with their identity. But I think a lot of parents are hungry for how do you do this? Right, you know, how do you... What does it look like, as far as the actions and the thought process of the grownups in this household? You know, and that's really what was the goal of this story.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely, I think a lot, you are absolutely correct. A lot of parents are like, Oh, yes, gender expansive. That seems like a really good idea, right? We don't necessarily want kind of pink Lego for girls, and all of that. And yet, so many parents are also held back by the power that the rigid gender binary has taken hold in kind of our colonized mind, in a lot of ways, right? It runs so deep. And so they're like, yes, let's raise our children this gender expansive ways. But let's not go as far as to dismantle the old gender binary, you know, like the, there is kind of almost this reverence or this fear for the gender binary, this normalizing, that's how it is or, you know, that that's that our bodies dictate kind of who we are and our gender identity. And in France, so deep that even on a neighborhood forum, I remember a few years ago, somebody saying, how do you take care of boys long hair, and I was like, Is boys long hair inherently and genetically different from girls long hair, and people went, oh, oh, boy. And I was like, I don't know. Like, I'm not sure what you're asking here. It just runs so deep. And so what would you say to those parents were like, yes, gender expansiveness. But this looks really radical. Really, beyond anything that I could do. This is going too far, as sometimes people say on social media.

Kyl Myers:

Yeah. That's a good question and I agree with every

Alex Iantaffi:

But slowly.

Kyl Myers:

I just, to me, I was I felt so strongly about gender creative parenting, and for two main reasons. One of the reasons single thing that you just said, like, there is this complacency was that I have so many transgender friends, non binary friends, gender queer friends, intersex friends, like I have so many real life people, you know, in my life, who I love so much, who had a gender assigned to them, that was wrong, you're right, like that. And, and knowing them and loving them. And knowing these, whether it was years or decades, right, like an entire lifetime of, of how it affected their lives, because they were assigned a gender, right, that didn't fit that wasn't theirs. And so, knowing that all of these people made me. That was the first reason of just like, I don't see in existing in the binary, right this, like, going with the flow, a point in why I have to assign a gender like, I have all of the confidence that Zoomer is going to know who they are, and they will I can give them the language and the framework and the X, you know, examples and they'll be able to go me. That's me, right? Like these pronouns are mine, this label is mine. This this is the way I want to express myself I just knew that they would be able to do that just like every kid is able to do that. Right? And I just was like, we're just not going to make assumptions. So that was like umbrella one of reasons why I wanted to do gender creative parenting, and then umbrella two was that day in and day out in my life I study gendered outcomes in health in Economics in politics in life, right? And so I'm I studied gender inequality and disparities among you know, of it being complicit in perpetuating the binary, even adults. And I could so clearly see how it was traced back to childhood. Not that childhood is like the breeding grounds for it, it's but it is the boot camp for it, it's where we perpetuate it right. And so I was just seeing these things happen and how, like, within the last few years, like the Me too movement has happened, right? Or the, like equal pay, you know, movement has gained some more attention. And you see all this attention happening among adults, right? Like, in corporate spaces, like, how do we fix, you know, how do we make sure sexual harassment isn't happening, you know, in these corporate spaces? And to me, it was like, how are we making sure sexual harassment isn't happening on elementary when you know, it's harmful, you know, to, to others, if it's not playgrounds, how you like...

Alex Iantaffi:

Yeah

Kyl Myers:

To me, like I could just so clearly see how like, we are creating this, and we're perpetuating this and so. So even among people who might identify within the binary, there's so many stereotypes, so much bias, so many expectations and restrictions that are so tied up in the binary, that I don't think are productive, and I just didn't want my child to only have half of the adjectives or half of the toys, or half of the clothes or right, like half of the opportunities. I wanted my child to have, like, all of the opportunities, right, like the best of all of the things of like, and I think a lot of parents do want that too, right? Like, I think that my, my values harmful to you, you know, and I think the gender binary is align with most progressive feminist parents who have social justice values, you know, I think the way that we go about it, like people may say we're extreme, but to me, it was like, that was the only way I could see myself doing this and it being able to have like, the maximum amount of benefits, you know, like, by all means, people are doing so many things that I do as a parent. But I was like, if we use they them pronouns, if we're not disclosing Zoomers anatomy to people who don't need to know, they can't flick on the gendered script and start treating them, you know, in this one binary way. And it was harmful to everybody. beautiful to witness because people couldn't write like, we didn't give them these little bite sized pieces of information that so many people rely on to interact with people. And it was a gift.

Alex Iantaffi:

God what I'm like, I'm tearing up over here as I'm listening to you. And literally, I'm like, okay, Alex, you cannot cry during this podcast interview. But, you know, you're speaking to my heart and oh, I have so many thoughts. Yes, I think that not only the gender binary is, is problematic. I think it's traumatic, like, I literally have a book that's coming out in a week actually called Gender Trauma. And it's all about how the rigid gender binary hurts everybody, although, of course, particularly intersections in very specific ways. And, and it's, I mean, it's for everybody, but mostly for therapists and educators to really think about, and to really approach things in a different way. And really be thoughtful about dismantling the binary and why it's important for everyone, so you're really speaking to my, to your speaking to my intellect, but you're also speaking to my heart as somebody who has felt that impact in kind of multiple ways. And then as a parent, you know, it's just like, I'm feeling all this layers, you know, my scholarship, and my parenting, and then my own personal experiences as a trans non binary person. It's just what a gift to give to Zoomer, but also what a gift to give to the world, right? I know that, as a parent, you know, I want it to be really expensive. And also as a trans and queer person, you can be so scrutinized in the way you parent, and it's been so interesting to also see, you know, and I write about this, and I think how to understand your gender, how people would react differently to my child when they were really small and they didn't know their gender and I would just go along with whatever people were reading in their gender because we were being very like whatever close you know, until she was old enough to say this are the clothes I want. This is why I'm ... and it happens really young children and know who they are really young no matter what and, you know, all this fears that I would be an undue influence or confusing. I have never met a child who's confused by my gender. They might ask me, Are you a boy or girl? And I'm like, both and they're like, huh, and I'm like, Yeah, you can do that. They're like, okay, you know, yes. Try to offer you know, this is not complicated for young kids. But grownups really get uptight and worked out. And I, my hypothesis is because we all have so much pain from our own gender, you know, regardless, or gender identity. And I know you mentioned, you always knew before you became apparent that you wanted to parent in this way. And maybe this is too much of a personal question, but what was the moment that like, you know, that you that really made you think, or maybe it was a series of moment, I want to parent differently than what the world expects. I really need to do this, this is important, you know, on a really personal level.

Kyl Myers:

So I was in, I was an undergrad, I was in, like a gender studies undergraduate program at the University of Utah. And it's when I was first exposed to.. So I went through all of the steps that every feminist goes through, right, you know, are you like, kind of have your feminist click, and you're pissed. But I think as I kept learning, and learning and learning, as a gender scholar, looking around, and I had so much information of history, right, you know, like in colonization, and the patriarchy and misogyny, I could just, I just knew so much more than the average person, you know, and, and so much more right than I knew 10 years prior. And so, but I was just seeing how insidious gender

Alex Iantaffi:

Yes.

Kyl Myers:

Was, like, watching how people thought and think the gender, the gender binary, biological essentialism is just so innate, and natural, and completely miss how much gender is socially constructed, right, and completely miss how much gender oppression is going on to benefit white cis, able bodied wealthy men, you know, like, and how even the gender binary is messing with them too. So I just think I was just watching the world think about gender so differently than I was. And then I read the stories about Sasha and Storm. So around 2012 is when I read the story is about right, there was Storm, who's in Canada, and Sasha, who's in the UK, whose parents, you know, just like, didn't assign gender to them. And I remember reading these stories about them. And going, cool, right? You're like, I just clicked with me of like, because this idea of not assigning a child agenda at birth, is so touted as utopian and, you know, like science fiction and impossible to pull off. And I think being exposed to these two families who were doing it, right, like, who knew actually what was going on in their day to day life? Or, you know, but it was just like, you can do this, you can stand up to the patriarchy, and the gender binary, and go no, I don't want to participate. No, thank you, you know, and that like.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely.

Kyl Myers:

And I think people whose minds are blown by that, right? Like, what do you mean, you you don't assign a gender? It's like, you just don't you know, what do you do? What do you mean, you just let your child right, like, have their interest? I don't know. So, I don't know if I'm answering your question. It was like, it was like, I got these little gems, right, like Sasha and storms family and I was like, they're doing it. And I remember reading you know, that like 1970s thing by lowest gold, you know, of like, a child X, you know, and it was just like, even that, like, it's this lovely story and a great way to start to process it, but it was just like, even the storyteller there like thought like, you have to have these very special people. Right? Like, like, it was just, I just thought, screw it. Let's give it a like let's let's give it a go. Because I just couldn't imagine myself parenting in the traditional gender binary, there was just it there was just no way that was going to work for me at all.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely and I've always said, you know, the people unlike little children have their own special interests anyway, they're gonna be their own people. You know, I remember my kid refused to wear anything but skirts for like an entire year. Then of course, we moved to Minnesota where winter hit and she was like, Okay, I'll wear leggings. Like, okay, I'll cover those legs? Yeah, but the one of the things that really hit me when you were talking was how much difference stories can make right. You know, even listening to your timeline. I'm like, you're a little bit younger than me probably But I was, you know, I did my PhD in what used to be women's studies, we weren't even a gender studies back then, you know. I was pregnant in 2003, and even refusing to tell people, you know, the gender of my baby, which I also didn't know and didn't want to know. And, you know, I would make jokes like, I hope it's a hippo because I really love hippos, but I think it's a human and people are really confused, right? Because it starts before that our children are even born. People want to know who's coming into the world, so I can put the script on them, right. And I was always like, you're not going to put a script on this baby. But there were no stories around me, you know, the, where there was no prominence of they them pronouns. I knew about gender queer identities, but non binary wasn't really even a thing in the early 2000s, at least not a Catholic thing. And so I was still figuring out my own gender, let alone parenting. And so I parented in this much more, what I call haphazard gender expansive way, you know, yeah. And I see friends or parents in the way you're parenting, and, of course, your story and storm story. And, and that really speaks to the importance of adding possibility models.

Kyl Myers:

Right, right.

Alex Iantaffi:

We're doing this and how are they doing it? Oh, and wow, you not only can kind of be really expansive, but you don't have to assign a gender at all right? And stories make that possible? And kind of asking those possibility models. So what's it like for you to be such a public possibility model as a parent, on a very personal level?

Kyl Myers:

I love it. I've never heard the term possibility model. And I love that. I will, I will write that down.

Alex Iantaffi:

It comes from trans women and how I don't think is Laverne Cox, I think it's Carmen. Oh, I'm totally, this is where my memory is terrible. But I will find the name and let you know, because like, it's not mine.

Kyl Myers:

So, so Sasha's parents and Storm's parents, right, were totally my possibility models. And yeah, and, but I also noticed that like, they kind of had each done this one interview, you know, and that was kind of it. So Storm's, I know, Storm's parent had written the foreword of a book, I think it's called Chasing Rainbows. And, but they didn't have, you know, they weren't blogging, they weren't being public advocates. And like, they don't need to be right. Like, like, I think that it's such a, it is such a private experience, like your life, your parenting. And if there would have been more possibility models out there, I don't know that I would have chosen to be like, we're doing it right. Like, like, we are going to be a visible family, for people to be able to see this, you know, but I just knew that if more people could see more people and could hear more stories. There may be more that maybe this would resonate with more people, right, like, knowing that you can actually do this and it has and so I, I just knew, like, I have this unique background of coming from a very conservative background, being raised in the Mormon church being raised within the gender binary, being told for half of my life that nothing mattered for me to accomplish besides being being a wife and a mom, you know, like, and making a lot of Mormon babies and, and I knew though, right, like, that's not my, that's not going to be my destiny. You know and, and I think that though, but because that's so much of my background, I know how to make information about gender gentle and accessible to people, like, I am not going to come into a room and assume every single person, like are we on like advanced gender theory brainwaves here, you know, like, I understand that, like this gender revolution is happening. And a lot of people are being left behind because they don't understand what's going on. And they don't have the vocabulary for it. They don't have the framework for it. And, and that's scary, right? And there's cancel culture there. You know, like, people don't even a lot of people don't even understand how to talk about pronouns, and then they're being made to feel better. So I just felt like my mission was going to be like, I'm going to be everybody's uncle's intro to gender teacher. You know, like, that's just what I wanted to do. I think that there I don't want there to be panic in the gender revolution. I want it. It's so beautiful and celebratory, right and I but I but I see that there's this like knee jerk reaction among a lot of people who don't know how to talk about this, right? Because gender is so ingrained and does feel so natural to so many people to so that can be scary for a lot of people, you know, so I just felt like, I gotta just go. We got to just show how this is possible, we got to be kind about it, we got to be gentle and accessible. And that's what we've done. You know, like, that's what we have done. And I know that because of our visibility, there are hundreds of families who are doing this now, because we gave them some language, right? Like, just like, when when you have a vocabulary, right of like, oh, that's, that makes sense, right? Or when you have resources that you've created, that are shareable, and can start conversations and community that can form right, like, I now have a incredible community of gender creative families, you know, within Salt Lake City, but also just across the globe, and that I didn't have that in 2016, you know, and so it's just by me being visible and helped other people have a framework, and then they are choosing, you know, like, there are some people who are like, I could be visible, you know, and so I think, like, the visibility or the possibility models are also expanding, which is wonderful, because there's, this experience looks different for every single family, right. And so there's people of color, there's trans parents, there's indigenous folks, like, you know, and there's parents with disabilities, and I just think it's so incredible now, because I know that like, right, like, my, my background, you know, doesn't reflect everybody's background. And so I think it's so awesome that there's so many people now that you can find, you know, and kind of pick, okay, their their story is a little bit closer to mine. And I might be able to, like, learn more from them than I could, Kyl, you know?

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely and we do need that multiplicity of stories, right? We do need kind of I hate that idea that often, the publishing world kind of really nurtures that that can be only one right? Oh, well, we already have one of those stories, or the we need this multiplicity of stories, because parenting is so complex, and there are so many layers, right? And so yours is just, I love the acknowledging that yours is just one story, just like Storm's is just one story. And it was really interesting. And, you know, when that story came out, there was a lot of commentary about, oh, this can only happen, I think it was Sweden, right? Like this can only happen somewhere else. And this can only happen somewhere else, where they're ready, more expensive ideas. And often is also seen separately from other experiences of gender. So I remember like, when people started to talk about gender expansive parenting, it was like trans people didn't exist. It was just about, you know, like, oh, gender expansive parenting, because we want the child now to be limited by gender stereotypes, right? And, you know, and at the same time, there was no talking about the fact that some of those children might be trans or non binary or anything else. But it was seen almost as you've got trans people over here, and then you go to, you know, cis people doing gender expensive parenting over there. And the way you're talking about it, it's really different, I think, from our various people talking about it before because it's not just about creating more possibility within the binary, but it's about dismantling the binary all together in some way. So I don't know does that resonate at all? Or does that make sense?

Kyl Myers:

Oh, hell, yeah. Yeah. Like I like so. I know like the there's a there's a term called gender neutral parenting, and that doesn't really resonate with me, right? Like, that's, that's the like, gender neutral parenting or, like, I'm assigning a binary gender at birth. But I'm going to make sure that like, my son can do ballet and my daughter can have a lemonade stand and have shorts, or whatever.

Alex Iantaffi:

Like, that's not what we're talking about. Right?

Kyl Myers:

So it's just kind of like it is it's kind of like trying to say if there's a binary but I want you to be able to like move within the binary you know. I think and with gender creative parenting, we're burning it all down like.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yes. Burn it down.

Kyl Myers:

Everything from even like, even if my child grows up and is a cisgender person or a straight person, they will have grown up though, knowing right? That like we are not, we are not centering cis normativity, we're not centering monogamy, we're not centering hetero normativity right? Like even I think these children who are raised in gender creative homes, gender expansive homes, gender autonomous gender open, right, there's a bunch of different terms for it. Even if they are cisgender they will be some just outstanding allies or accomplices in breaking the binary down, I think so, you know, it goes so far beyond just like, a no pink is also for boys or you know, or whatever it goes to this point of addressing racism, addressing ableism, addressing, you know, privilege, addressing xenophobia. I mean, just truly trying to come at this from like this lens of like, exposing gendered oppression and creating kids who want nothing to do with that, you know, I mean are can see the harms from the very beginning. And so, that's felt really good to have like, like, I'm a queer person, and I make sure Zoomer knows that, right, and like, we talk about polyamory and, you know, and that, like, there's not a default norm in our house, right, like, really trying to be like, life has experienced so many different ways. And one way isn't better than the other way. You know, I think that's kind of this, this constant. Just trying to tear down these walls of the binary, you know, and it's, it is constant because we're not raising Zoomer in a vacuum, right? Like, we watch TV. Zoomer goes to school. We have people around us who are invested in the binary, we, you know, like, it's everywhere, right? Like, you can't go anywhere in the United States, you know, and not see the binary, right, what we're like in the marketing and the capitalism and all of it. And so, we're just pointing it out a lot. And I think also how we were able to teach Zoomer Right? Like Zoomers, four and a half years old still has no idea that there's such a thing as like, boys sections and girls sections of clothing in stores, right? Because we walk through the whole damn store when we're looking for exactly right. Like, we're not letting them know. I mean, they're picking up on it, right? Like they're totally picking up on like.

Alex Iantaffi:

Of course, they're at that age.

Kyl Myers:

Like they're picking up on it, right, like, but they know that like, Okay, girls are more are, are wearing dresses more, but they're not off limits to boys and girls don't have to wear dresses, or like, like it's jumbled in their brain. And I think that that's really wonderful, right? Like, like clothes don't have gender and...

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely and I love what you're talking about. Because it's an everyday process, you know, my kid is 16 and, and I can talk about this because she also takes over my podcast, sometimes she's even made logo now for takeovers. And she actually has a this, I did not have a sophisticated analysis of gender as 16. But you know, she's basically talking about why can't you be feminine, and also, you know, an astrophysicist, you know, she's that generation of actually, really, she has very strong feelings about how misogyny kind of works right in her life as a girl and as somebody who is extremely smart and, and kind of how femininity is seen almost as contrary, you know, to a lot of very interest. And, and their abilities. And I don't know, she talks about it more eloquently than I ever can and sends me great materials from our peers. Generation Z is amazing. Yeah, you know, and I also think that a lot of people thought that my kid would be confused about gender, because she was around queer and trans people and all sorts of people. And she was very clear once she was like, five, she was like, I'm a girl. That's my gender. And that's, like, good for you. And for now, you know, knows gender is a journey, I always think, but it's an everyday practice. And there are moments that really scary, you know, moments where we have to teach our children about patriarchal structure, and racism, and xenophobia, and misogyny. And, and it's a lot to navigate. And I wonder if some parents feel overwhelmed at times, and if you have ever felt overwhelmed, and why would you say to parents when they feel overwhelmed by the task ahead, you know, and we both we have doctorates. We've studied this, you know, and this is a lot for the everyday parent to be like, not only my parenting, and now I have to talk about structure powers, with my child in an age appropriate manner. Yeah.

Kyl Myers:

Yeah. It's a great question and it is a it's a big task to ask people with privilege to consider sacrificing that privilege. I mean, that's what I think right? Like, right, white parents are waking up to the fact that black parents have to talk to their black children, you know, or white parents have talked about with blacks or whatever. But like, like, it is such a privilege to be able to be silent about issues that harm people just because you don't think they harm you individually Right? Or you don't think that the risk is there for your family? Right? Like it is. I think it's cisgender people who have to be trying to dismantle transphobia every single day, right? Like, I think it's white people who have to be working to be anti racist, and teaching their children how to be anti racist from a very early age, because all of these biases that we have get formed pretty young, you know, like racial bias, gender bias, class bias, all all sorts. And so I think like, no, like, you don't get to be like, we shouldn't be feeling okay about that. Right? Like, I don't want to have these tough conversations. It's like, well, tough because you live in this world where these tough conversations have to happen, or nothing's going to ever change. And so that is like to me, I mean, I get that people are thinking like, what a daily battle you must be going through. And it's like, yeah, because I think that like the current status quos garbage and I don't want that for Zoomers generation. I don't want that for I don't want to be living in it for the rest of my life. Like, I want us to wake up and I want us to have more inclusive policy, I want us to have a more inclusive understanding, I want us to start addressing our traumas, I want us to start working through them and like, you know, so I just, I just do not want to give the gender binary and the patriarchy any kindling from myself, you know, like, I don't, I just don't want to fuel it. And so I don't think a lot of other parents want to fuel it either. But I think to me, it's like, it's become a lifestyle. I mean, like, it's like my way of life. It's my way of thinking. I just speak using gender neutral language, I just use they them pronouns for people until they tell me, I yeah, I just, to me, like, it's not this, like uphill battle for me. Like, it's just how I live my life now. And I can see that it is helpful to other people, you know, to, to using my own privilege to make change, and I want so many more people who are in like, these privileged positions to go. Nah, like, I'm going to, I'm going to, I'm gonna dismantle this though, like, and I'm going to just be confident that on the other side of this, it's also going to be good for me, right? Like...

Alex Iantaffi:

And it is good. And there are so many rewards, right? Because we talked about how it's hard, but there are also so many rewards in terms of, I don't know, I am in awe of my kid every day, you know, and, and part of the reward is like, you know, I don't know about you, but we didn't live a completely separate life. We still watch Disney movies, we still read the books, but again with that critical outlook hole. That's so cool. What's happening? Oh, look at that they could have avoided fatphobia here, or why are they perpetuating these stereotypes? Oh, isn't it great? You know, when Frozen came out finally there was you know, there were other problems. But one of the things that was not problematic was like sibling love was at the center of it right right. And and of the love interests were actually depicted as potentially problematic you know, somebody who can be very charming but might not have your best interests at heart, all this complex things that you can talk about to a young child, and those I don't know, for you, but this moment for me where it is satisfying. You can have great conversations with your kids, we don't have to protect our children from this conversations. I think it makes them stronger, right?

Kyl Myers:

Totally. And even just like last night, right? Like, even though we you know, I mean, you probably have these similar feelings of like, I know that how I think about gender is in another universe than where, where Zoomer thinks about gender, right, like, because four and a half, you know, but like, but I just tried to be this, like, slow drip, you know, like, Oh, yes. And, you know, I'm watching this TV show with them yesterday. And there's a there's a, it's like trucks, like there was like these trucks and like, Oh, yes, father and son are playing with these trucks. And it was actually so cute. Like, this father son dynamic is really great. They're playing with these trucks. But I noticed them, they were using like, he him pronouns for every single truck, you know, it was like, the crane is the truck and the bulldozer. He's that he him, him him, you know, like, and I just, it's such a silly thing that we do is using, like gendered pronouns for like, inanimate objects.

Alex Iantaffi:

Right?

Kyl Myers:

You know, but it's like, okay, like, this is happening though, right? Like, and I do try to teach Zoomer like, we don't need to use gendered pronouns for like animals or cars or whatever. But, but it was a it was an opportunity where I just said, You I think it's really interesting that this kid's toys, all of his toys use he him pronouns. And I was like, What pronouns? Do your toys use? You know, like do you have? Do you have girl toys? Do you have boy toys? Do you have nonbinary toys, you know, like it just like it's just by this drip of putting the language in there, you know? Zoomers, like, Yeah, well, like that dinosaurs a girl. And like, that jeep is non binary. And I'm like, awesome. Absolutely. Well, it sounds, I mean, it's not so silly, but it's like, this is the vessel where I get this is how I get to teach right now, you know, it's like, if, if we're going to be talking about pronouns, like, I'm gonna start being this, I'm gonna, this is part of the slow drip of like, that's part of the patriarchy where we just are defaulting to everything being he him boy, masculine, man. And I don't, that's not reality, you know, you had said something about, like, people think like, but the kids are going to be confused about gender. And I think that that is such bizarre logic. Because do you know trans people? Do you know intersex people? Do you know non binary people? Do you know queer people? Do you know gender bending men? And do you know, you know, masculine women? Yes. So like, I actually think that confusing kids about gender is by teaching them very binary concepts, because it does not reflect reality yet. So like, that's, that's my take is, I don't want Zoomer to be confused about gender. That's why I'm teaching them from birth, how expansive gender is and how self determined it is and how complex it is, and how beautiful it is, instead of this, like, because that's painful for a lot of people, right to learn about it. And then and then they are confused, because they're trying to get someone sex assigned at birth, they feel really invested in that there's, you know, and I, they're just, I think that's more confusing.

Alex Iantaffi:

I agree. And I think it's much more painful. I know a lot of cis people actually carry a lot of pain around gender, because then we're not given that analysis. So I agree. And I love that it is a slow drip every day, or you watch the show. Oh, interesting. Or, let's talk about this, right? It's not about avoiding popular media, it's about being there with our children, to talk about it to ask questions to offer possibility, right? And of that expanding that ongoing expanding of possibility. I love it. Yeah, I could talk to you about this all day. But I want to be respectful of your time and the time we set aside for this conversation. And one thing I always ask is, is there anything that we have not talked about, that you were hoping to talk about that was somehow missed, or that you would like to share with our listeners?

Kyl Myers:

Trying to recap our conversation and think like, have we hit the highlights of, you gotta sacrifice your privilege, you gotta be a slow drip every day, you got to, you know, show and center non binary identities, you got to be visible, if it's safe to be so right. And like, if not, not. Now, this has been such a wonderful conversation I'm trying to think of I think what I try to help people know is like, I mean, I know that I am a resilient person, and I and I, my mission, you know, is like, I want to leave this world having shaken it up more, you know, then when I got here. I think there's so much reward in taking risks, you know, and I, these risks feel so worthwhile to take, and I'm seeing the reward come out of these risks. And I know, it can be scary, and people might not want to take as many risks as I have or be as radical as I have. But I think there are these there's actually these incremental changes that people can take and it is like flexing a muscle right? Like it becomes habit and then you can take on more and then you you know, you feel more confident sticking up for somebody, you have data to present right? I just think that if if we can wake up committing to be better than we were yesterday, right, and like committing to anti sexism and all of these other anti right, like any layer of oppression. I just think there's such a beautiful life in that, you're just it's scary, but necessary work that I just want to see more people getting involved in. There's really beautiful work and it's really necessary work, you know, and it's life saving work. So you don't have to like jump into the deep end, right. But I do think like, what can you do today is such an important question to ask yourself, right? And if you're feeling it in your tummy of like, oh, I, this something just happened and it doesn't feel good, right? Like, it might not feel safe to go and have like a face to face conversation. But like, can you write an email? Can you write a letter? You know, can you say, can we talk about this? Right? Like, I just think, when we're feeling those feelings, like in our hearts and our tummies of like, oh, this doesn't feel right. That's totally our intuition. Right? Saying, like, something's got to change. And we've got to make this is you this is, this is your time to do it. So I just, it's such an incredible time to be doing this work. I, it's, there's this zeitgeist, and I'm so honored to be a part of it. And I just want more people to be involved, right? And to know that, like, it's good, like, come in, get in this water. It's really, really

Alex Iantaffi:

Exactly. There's a lot of fun. And there's a lot good. of possibility. And for everybody I know, that's one of the things that I really believe in that this work is life saving for everyone. And, you know, and it's so important, I was gonna ask you if you had a call to action, but I love what you already said, like, what can you do today, right? And to create families in which children can talk about those feelings, they can talk about this thing happened, and I can't quite make sense of it if I'm too young, and given them language and a framework to make sense of it so that they don't feel it's their individual fault, right? Oh, this is how the system impacts me. And, and I can have community I can have those conversations with my parents, my caregivers, my peers, as I get older. It's, it's the best gift we can give as parents, right, if our children can do that. Oh, so yeah, I think you already had a beautiful call to action of what can you do today? But anything? Any last words for the listeners, I just want to make sure we're not missing any of your wisdom.

Kyl Myers:

Oh, well, people can find me I'm on I'm on Instagram, I have a website. My book, right is a really, you know, like, good glimpse, you know, into this life, you know, and why I chose it and why I'm really glad that I chose it. So no, people can find me I am with you. I could talk for days, you know about this stuff. So it's a lifelong journey. Right? And it's like and I and I just think like, get in, get in and you know, like, just start paddling at the pace that feels comfortable.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely. Thank you so much, Kyl, and gender stories listeners, what can you do today whether your parents or not to dismantle the gender binary because it doesn't serve any of us. And of course, if you need more guidance, you know, there are books out there. There are mine and Meg John's books, but more importantly in this Kyl's book, racing them adventures in gender creative parenting. By tapa books, it's out now find it or your local independent bookseller, or wherever you get your books from Raising Them: Our Adventure in Gender Creative Parenting by Kyl Myers and go follow them on all the social media. And thank you again for listening.