posted in Parenting
Most often, it was a well-meaning stranger trying to strike up a conversation while waiting in line at the grocery : “What a happy little guy! How old is he?”
My eyes would glance slowly from my infant daughter — who was usually sporting a pink shirt, or something with butterflies and flowers — back to the kind, older woman smiling at us. “Well, she just turned 8 months last week,” I’d answer. Sometimes, I would put a little emphasis on the she and sometimes I just let it go. I’d probably never see this person again, anyhow; to me, it wasn’t worth making a big deal out of an innocent mistake.
But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t awkward as hell.
Here’s my bald baby girl at 8 months old.
What’s the proper response in a situation like this? Moms in the BabyCenter Community have been discussing how they handle when their babies get referred to with the wrong gender pronoun. Here’s a few of their responses:
“Nothing. I really couldn’t possibly care less if strangers know which genitals my baby has,” one mom commented.
“I just go with it,” another confessed.
Another parent was quite flattered that her boys were complimented for being pretty. “My boys have always been called girls,” she wrote. “Didn’t matter that they had baseball outfits and totally boy clothes on. I find it a compliment as they think they are pretty. They are.”
My middle child (a daughter) was frequently thought to be a boy.
Dressing in her brother’s hand-me-downs didn’t exactly help.
One mom said she understands the frequent mix-ups because of her daughter’s clothing. “People call my little girl a boy all the time, then pause and say that she’s adorable,” she wrote “I have mostly boy and neutral hand-me-downs for her, so I don’t mind the confusion. If someone wants to clear it up, then I will, but I’m not that worried about it.”
Yet another mom said she typically lets it go for a while before correcting someone — mainly because she’s amused by the awkwardness of it all. “I’ve been told my son is too cute to be a boy…. he has even worn obvious boy clothes and been called a girl… I usually wait for a little bit then casually mention he’s a boy… they feel pretty dumb by then bc they’ve said girl several times by then. I’m entertained by their strange looks and apologies lol.”
In certain situations, a simple smile is enough: “I had some old guy tell me ‘He’s going to be a lady killer.’ I wanted to say ‘Hey if that’s what she’s into that’s cool.’ but I decided to just smile and nod.”
Here’s one of the rare times my daughter wore a dress as an infant. She was unimpressed.
If you really think about it — unless you’re changing a diaper — babies don’t inherently offer many clues to their sex or “gender.” (The quotation marks are because we don’t actually know how they will ultimately identify, or if they will even follow traditional gender norms.)
Pierced ears could mean a girl, I suppose. Or, maybe it’s just a male baby who has pierced ears. And contrary to what many strangers assumed with my girls, bald babies or babies with less hair aren’t automatically boys. Likewise, little ones with gorgeous eyelashes and flowing tresses could absolutely be boys. Clothing isn’t a for-sure thing, either; plenty of parents opt for gender-neutral clothing, or even gender-fluid clothing.
So can we really be annoyed by friendly strangers when they misidentify the sex of our kid? Sure. Or you could smile and get on with your day. I guess what it boils down to is the length of the conversation and your own personal preference. Because honestly, your kid probably couldn’t care less.
Has your child ever been mistaken for the opposite sex? How do you typically respond in situations like this?
Images by Michelle Stein, iStock
The post Does it bother you when your baby gets called the wrong sex? appeared first on BabyCenter Blog.
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