He, She, They, and Theybies
Linda Ranson Jacobs
Linda Ranson Jacobs is a speaker and child care expert, who works with single parents, children, and teenagers.
In children’s ministry we have all heard or said things like the following:
· She said her baby “brover” is so sweet. Isn’t she just the cutest little thing for saying that?
· He told me he wants to grow up to be just like his daddy.
· They want to eat snack, “right now.”
· This mom registered her children as theybies…… say what? Theybies?
It is becoming a confusing world that we live in. If you haven’t heard, you might want to consider doing some research on the pronouns, he, she, they and theybies. In some locales one must be careful about calling someone a she if that someone has decided to change to a he. If you don’t know whether to call someone a he or a she, then you can call them a “they” and that really bounces proper grammar off the wall.
We now have parents that prefer not to tell anyone what gender their child is so they call them a theyby. In the article, “’Boy or girl?’ parents raising ‘theybies’ let kids decide, parents wanting to shield children from gender stereotypes are keeping the biological sex a secret. The dad in the article said, ““For us, it means raising our kids with gender-neutral pronouns — so, ‘they,’ ‘them,’ ‘their,’ rather than assigning ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘him,’ ‘her’ from birth based on their anatomy.”
In the same article as above Dr. John Steever, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in New York, says he sees “gender-open” parenting as a way for parents to leave the door open for children to be accepted no matter what gender they are. He goes on to say, “This could be particularly important for transgender children, who have higher rates of depression and suicide attempts.” He also thinks that raising children like this might prevent gender dysphoria later on. Of course, it is too early to tell at this point.
There has been a lot of discussion of late on the Internet, in blogs, in articles, TV shows, etc. about gender and children. Some parents simply don’t want anyone or anything to keep their child from becoming what the child wants to become. I’m still a little unsure how this is going to work since we all bring to the table our upbringing and our considerations on what is expected of boys and girls.
Some children identify as a “demigirl.” Know what a demigirl is? A demigirl is someone who partially identifies as a female with feminine characteristics. There are so many different terms right now that I can become dizzy trying to keep things straight.
How about “drag kids?” Got any kids in your ministry that are drag queens. Denise Shick, an author and friend of mine tells us in the article “Reestablishing the Line Between Compassion and Indulgence” about how one young man that came out at the age of three as a drag queen, now he has a line of clothing for drag kids. Will you allow a child to come to church in his “drag kids” clothes? You think I’m being ridiculous? No, it’s only a matter of time until a transgender child, a demigirl, a drag kid or a theyby comes to your church. Will you be prepared?
Are you prepared?
There are many issues that could get your church into trouble depending on where you live. So here are some questions for you.
· Do you know your states laws on bathroom issues? Can a male who identifies as female use the women’s bathroom? Can a female who identifies as a male march into your men’s bathroom?
· Does your state (or country) have laws about how to refer to people, i.e. he, she, they?
· What are the consequences if you do not obey the laws? In some countries, ministers can be jailed if they use the wrong pronoun to refer to someone.
· Does your church have bylaws or written protocols on how to refer to people?
· Will you accept a child who identifies as transgender? How will you accommodate the bathroom issue?
· How will you protect a theyby’s gender when changing diapers?
There are dozens of questions that need to be considered. The best advice is to sit down with your pastor and or the elders in your church and make some decisions. Consult your insurance company to see what they suggest. Check with churches around you to determine what they are doing.
At my church
Two years ago, my pastor and I discussed the bathroom issue at length. He said at that time, we would go by the sex on the birth certificate. But that no longer works now since, in some areas, there is no listing on the birth certificate about whether a child is a male or female.
At my church we believe in God’s design of a male and female. And we believe God’s design for marriage is between a male and female. We believe that the children in our church families should be protected from worldly trends and whims.
Do we joyfully accept an eight-year-old boy in a girl’s clothing, hair style and a girl’s name? Do we acknowledge a tween who is taking puberty blockers, so she won’t go into puberty? Knowing that all the while this child is being sterilized and will never be able to have children? What about the fifteen-year-old girl who has a mastectomy and has been told she can grow breasts back later on if she changes her mind? And what about the boy who is on puberty blockers to keep his male organs from developing. They will not develop once he is past puberty. He has been changed forever. What if all these kids change their minds later on?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. I just know that we should want each child to be transformed into the image of Christ. (Referring to Romans 8:29) We should want each child to know they were known by God before they were ever born. He was there with them in their mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13) We need to tell children to be still and know that God is God? (Psalm 146:10) He is the ruler of the universe and He can show them and teach them the paths they need to take. (Psalm 25:24) Do we tell children to be careful because the world “promises them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity – for ‘People are slaves to whatever has mastered them.’” (2 Peter 2:19) Or do we blindly sit by while little kids stumble, fall, and whirl around in a sin-filled world trying to figure out who and what to believe? Or who and what they are?
I don’t know about you, but I want to bring God’s unconditional love to these children, to the theybies, to the demigirls, to the drag kids, and to the transgender kids. I want these kids to know Christ as their personal Savior. I want children to fall in love with Jesus. How about you?