Sav Butler, who came out as trans at the age of 18, says he drew from his own experience to help his children discover their gender identity.
Sav Butler struggled with his gender identity till he came out as trans at the age of 18, and that played a huge role in letting his kids discover their gender for themselves. Butler didn't feel comfortable in his body by the time he was five, and he doesn't want his children to feel the same. Butler doesn't tell anyone the biological sex of the children, so they don't assume genders and impose them on the kids, which may not be in line with the gender the children align with. "I’m not raising them non-binary because that is a gender identity as well and the whole point is to not give them a gender identity. I don’t want them to be referred to as something they’re not and have their memories end up being bad, I just want them to know that they are accepted," said Butler, reported Metro.
Butler has faced severe criticism from strangers—with some even labeling him a 'freak'—but he was sure about his parenting choice, given his own experiences growing up. Butler said his older child, Wesley, who's three now, has expressed that he is a boy. He also has a newborn baby named Eden and is expecting them to tell him his gender identity when they grow up. "I’ve raised both of my children genderless until they can tell me what their gender is themselves," said Butler, who hails from Portland, Maine.
He believes it will also help them learn about different identities and help them to discover themselves. "I haven’t told anyone the assumed gender of either of my children because it’s none of their business—it’s only the business of me as the person who changes their diaper and their doctor. By three years old they’re talking and can understand and tell you their gender identity, so they can tell people themselves eventually," said the stay-at-home dad.
People often ask Butler for his kids' gender identity but are confused or angry when he refuses to answer. "They say it’s not my decision to make for the baby which is obviously hypocritical because babies have their genders assumed at birth every day," said Butler. He is also hoping to raise awareness on gender identity, especially about biological sex not being gender identity. "Gender doesn’t equal sex and I get annoyed because people ask what the gender of the baby is but babies don’t have gender identities yet – all they know is poop, pee, eat and sleep," said Butler.
He buys them both typically feminine and masculine toys and clothes. "That way they can look back at baby photos that align with their gender and not be uncomfortable,’ said Butler. He also uses feminine and masculine pronouns so they can see what it feels like. "Even once they’ve expressed their gender identity I allow them to wear and play with whatever clothes and toys they want, adding that Wesley likes both masculine and feminine stuff and that’s okay. He also encourages his kids to call him ‘mapa’ – a gender-neutral parenting identity—and refers to feeding baby Eden as ‘chestfeeding’ to suit his gender identity. Butler's parenting style is derived from his own journey. "I don’t want my kids to look back on their childhood and feel pain, which a lot of trans people have experienced and can understand," said Butler.
A study revealed that kids were being influenced by this incessant stereotypical marketing that they would start aligning with their items of their 'assigned' colors. Girls were found to be more enthusiastic about a pink toy thanks to social conditioning stemming from gender-based marketing. Sav is hoping other parents also opt for gender-free parenting with their children. "Kids understand themselves more than we give them credit for. They have a grasp on gender identity by the time they are three and can express themselves and talk," said Butler.