There’s more than one way to be a parent

I still had a little rant left over after last week’s “We Don’t All Have Kids!” post, so I wrote what follows. Either this is very strange or it makes total sense. You can tell me in the comments.

These days, especially here in uber-liberal western Oregon, we hear a lot of talk about “gender fluidity.” With the whole LGBTQ alphabet (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer), some folks decline to identify as just one gender or stick to one flavor of sexual partner.

My mother, God rest her soul, would have shut down the computer in horror by now. No fluidity in her gender world. I’m all girl, Mom, although sometimes I think it would be swell to be a guy and never have to shave anything.

Unlike my mother, I’m okay with a spectrum of gender identities, rather than just boy/girl. Be who you want to be, love who you want to love.

Wikipedia offers this definition: “Genderqueer, also known as non-binary, is a catch-all category for gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine—identities which are outside the gender binary and cisnormativity. Genderqueer people may express a combination of masculinity and femininity, or neither, in their gender expression.”

In this article by Dr. Laura McGuire, who identifies as queer, she talks about how people didn’t always see gender as such a black and white, male or female, penis or vagina, thing. Some cultures had more than two genders and attributed special powers to those who showed traits of more than one. Even today, she notes, while most people are born with either one x and one y (male) or two x chromosomes (female), a significant number have a different combination (like the folks with Klinefelter Syndrome, which we have discussed here before). It’s quite interesting and surely a comfort to those who are not comfortable in the male or female identity they were given at birth.

What does this have to do with childlessness?

If the world can accept fluidity in gender, why can’t it accept fluidity in maternity and paternity? Rather than saying the only way to be a mother or father is to combine human sperm and egg and grow it in a uterus for nine months, maybe we should look at all the other ways we act like parents, whether it’s as godparents, aunts and uncles, friends, teachers, caregivers, doctors, artists, priests, zookeepers, animal lovers, or people who plant trees. Of course, it’s not same as making and raising a human baby, but is it not nurturing and loving in a similar way?

Perhaps we’re not all mothers or fathers in the traditional sense, but why can’t the definition be just as fluid as the modern-day definitions of gender?

Just a thought. What do you think?