Author: Liz Crawford
Published: 2:52 PM EST February 6, 2019
Updated: 9:59 AM EST February 12, 2019
ORLANDO, Fla. — Many parents find out the sex of their child before the baby is born.
Others opt for the surprise, waiting to hear, "it's a boy" or 'its a girl."
However, some families are exploring another option by raising a “gender neutral” child.
Not a boy. Not a girl.
Instead of "boy" or "girl", gender neutral babies are known as "theybies". "Theybies" refer to babies without a known sex.
This parenting philosophy means only the parents and trusted caregivers know the baby’s anatomy. They believe the gender part comes later and is left up to the child. Ari Dennis is one of those parents.
"We did not assign a sex at birth which means when they were born, they had genitals, we know what they are, we just chose to acknowledge that those genitals don't indicate anything about gender," Dennis said.
Sparrow is a smiling, curious, adorable 11-month-old baby. If you met Sparrow, you might ask if Sparrow is a boy or girl.
The answer -- to be determined.
Sparrow's parents decided to raise their baby "gender-neutral," meaning Sparrow will decide gender when older. Even Sparrow's birth certificate says sex-unknown.
Ari, one of Sparrow's parents, says the family was inspired to raise Sparrow without a known gender after their older child, Hazel, discovered gender around the age of four.
“We are in no way prohibiting Sparrow from having a gender, and we’re not forcing them to be one gender or another,” Dennis said.
Sparrow's family isn't alone. A closed Facebook group called "Parenting Theybies" has roughly 350 members.
“There’s no way this can go wrong,” Dennis said. “People will be like ‘Oh the child will be confused!’ No. If gender is really something in you, then no one’s going to change that.”
There are varying degrees of gender-neutral parenting.
There are families like Sparrow’s choosing not to disclose the sex of the baby. Others have taken a toned down approach by encouraging their kids to play with all kinds of toys and wear any color they want.
“There’s nothing wrong with pink. There’s nothing wrong with blue,” Dennis said. “There’s something wrong with forcing kids into roles.”