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lunchbox letters

by wymbin

Discussing Gender with Salima Stanley-Bhanji

Dear Wymbin Community,

I have been noticing my daughter Ullani’s growing understanding of gender and sometimes it concerns me. Gender is no longer a binary concept and yet, mamas and dadas, boys and girls and hyper-feminine female and hyper-masculine male Disney characters, are her entry point into understanding gender.

Our kids are going to grow up with LOTS of other kids who identify as nonbinary, gender fluid, gender exploring, queer, neither boy nor girl. I am trying to expand the lens of gender possibilities from the outset so that Ullani’s conditioning is more expansive than my own.

Here are some ideas to incorporate at home:

  • Let kids know that there are boys, girls, and some people who are neither

  • Tell kids that instead of asking “is that a boy or girl?”, they can ask “what gender are they?”

  • Use they/them pronouns for people we don’t know, as we can’t assume gender by appearance

  • Be aware of the gender norms represented in the books and shows your kids are exposed to and don’t be afraid to discuss characters’ expressions of their gender in order to help breakdown the idea of femininity being attached only to women and masculinity being attached only to men

I find that by making these shifts with my little one, I’m also deconstructing my own binary conditioning and gender stereotypes and that feels GREAT. If you would like to learn more about different gender identities, take a look at Humainologie’s short film series, Celebrating Diverse Gender Identities.

- Salima Stanley-Bhanji

Salima Stanley-Bhanji, co-founder + CEO of @spreadempathyyc and @humainologie, and one of our local preschool mamas! She also won the Calgary Influential Woman in Business Award for Social Enterprise this year! Salima will be popping up on our blog from time to time to share some ideas and suggestions on how we can support our kids to grow into open, inclusive beings who are unequivocally at home in our diverse world -- and all of this matters, not just for them, but for everyone.

You can connect with Humainologie on Instagram @humainologie or follow Salima @salimastanleyb


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