Couple raises child as a gender-neutral 'they-by'

Couples are deciding to raise their children as 'theybies' instead of deciding their gender

Chelsea Ritschel
Tuesday 03 April 2018 17:11 BST
Zoomer is raised without a gender (Instagram)
Zoomer is raised without a gender (Instagram)

Long before Kyl Myers ever gave birth, she knew she wanted her child to be a "theyby," or a baby raised without the construct of gender.

Speaking to The Cut, Myers described the moment she realised as a gender-studies student at the University of Utah that gender was a social construct - one that she did not want to impose this on her future child.

“Sure, there are biological differences among the sexes, I get that. But once I was exposed to it, I couldn’t unsee or unlearn that gender is a social construction,” Myers recalled.

And when Myers did give birth, two years ago, to 'theyby' Zoomer, she and her partner were adamant that Zoomer grows up in an environment free of gender stereotypes - where their child could come to an understanding of their own gender in their own time.

For Myers, this meant providing Zoomer with all options, “like a rainbow exploded,” in an effort to be “gender-creative,” rather than limiting them to “gender-neutral.”

It has also meant intentionally removing gender bias from Zoomer’s life - referring to toys as “they” rather than he or she and shopping in both the boys and girls section for clothes.

However, although the phenomenon of raising children as theybies is becoming more common, there are many who still struggle to grasp the concept. For Myers and her partner, this included Zoomer’s grandparents.

When Myers gave birth to Zoomer, she decided to keep their anatomy a secret from Zoomer’s grandparents so they would realise Myers was serious about her decision and her dedication to raising her child this way - and so they would become comfortable using the correct pronouns.

But, according to Myers, Zoomer’s grandparents initially felt they were missing out on valuable experiences, such as bathing their grandchild.

Myer’s dedication to the correct pronouns also extends past their home-life. Myers told The Cut: ”So many of the root causes of health outcomes are related to gender, not sex,” - referring to people who ask if a child is a boy or girl.

According to Myers, this is almost the same as asking whether the child is more likely to develop an eating disorder, as is the case with girls, or to die in a car accident, like boys.

And despite the couple’s decision to stay out of Zoomer’s gender, Zoomer is already acknowledging the differences in people, calling men on the street “Dada,” as they resemble his father and vice-versa.

The couple also expects Zoomer to self-identify their gender soon. According to Myers, it will likely happen when they are three or four, at which point Myers said: “we can all just get onboard, you know.”

However, the couple is adamant they have not raised Zoomer this way so that they will be “gender nonconforming,” - although that outcome wouldn’t be surprising considering they have not raised them to conform to a “binary gender.”

Rather, the couple is raising Zoomer as a theyby partly because “intersex people exist, and transgender people exist, and queer people exist, and sex and gender occur on a spectrum, yet our culture loves to think people, all 7 billion of them, can and should be reduced to either/or.”

For Zoomer, anatomy has no impact on their childhood.

You can follow Zoomer's life at

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