Gender-Neutral for the Win

Just the other day, I walked into a conversation about gender neutrality in my own home. My 2-year-old daughter has a beloved fox lovey that she calls Coco. Through the baby monitor, I heard my mom say, “I don’t see Coco. Where is he?” She went on to ask my little one if Coco was a boy or a girl, and then it occurred to her that maybe Coco wasn’t either. She came into the kitchen, and we had a lovely discussion about pronouns and settled on “they” for dear Coco.

It’s not just happening in my house, either. Efforts toward gender inclusivity are happening across not just the country but the globe. Check out these three recent developments:

1)Target: As if I needed more reasons to love the big red bullseye, Target just announced the launch of a gender-neutral kids’ clothing and accessories line. The Toca Boca collection includes some adorable pieces, including a cat hoodie, sloth t-shirt, and science lab dress. Kudos to Target for not limiting children based on archaic, arbitrary gender stereotypes. Let clothes be clothes, and let kids be kids!

2)D.C. and Oregon ID cards: Last month, denizens of the nation’s capital became the first in the country to have the option of using X as their gender marker on their identification cards instead of M or F. Oregon soon followed suit, becoming the first state to allow gender-neutral driver’s licenses. This is a big step toward honoring non-binary identities.

3)“The Tube” in London: London’s underground has always greeted its passengers with “ladies and gentleman.” Not so anymore. Londoners will now hear “hello everyone” across the transport network. Transport for London showed its support for the LGBTQ community during Pride, and this change is a recognition of the power and importance of inclusive language.

The pushback against the binary is occurring everywhere. Gender-neutral bathrooms are becoming the norm from Berlin to Dublin City University. Canadians are pushing to change the lyrics of “O, Canada” from “sons” to “all of us.” Sweden boasts successful gender-neutral pre-schools. Emma Watson won a first-ever genderless acting award from MTV. Jennifer Lopez employed gender-neutral pronouns in a post about her sister’s child (to the delight of her inclusive-minded fans like me).

There’s an argument that the move to gender-neutral is going too far. I’d like to counter that we’ve never been successful as a human race when we’ve limited people. Maybe clothes, ID cards, and simple words don’t seem that significant, but when people feel free to be their genuine selves, I can’t help but think we all win.