A parent’s explanation to their child about what it means to identify as non-binary has gone viral on Twitter, with many people praising them for spreading a message of acceptance.
A few days ago, an artist called Jay Jackson wrote on Twitter about how a child had visited their workplace and asked Jackson whether they were a boy or a girl.
When Jackson responded saying that they were “neither”, the child’s parent then went into further detail explaining that not everyone identifies as a boy or a girl.
“Their parent explained that some people are ‘he’, some are ‘she’, and others are ‘they’ - the kid replied that they had never thought of that, and the parent said they could think about it more together later,” Jackson tweeted.
Jackson continued in a further tweet, saying that the parent had also said that “just because we’re told by other people that we are something doesn’t mean that it’s true.”
Jackson explains to The Independent that they'd initially felt unsure about how best to answer the child's question.
"It was a lovely and heartwarming interaction to have, that I wish was more common," they say.
"I was nervous to respond to the kid's question at all because of how the parent might react, but they were asking so politely and curiously so I just blurted it out as simply as I could.
At work a kid asked me if i was a boy or a girl so i said "neither" & their parent explained that some people are "he", some are "she", and others are "they" - the kid replied that they had never thought of that, and the parent said they could think about it more together later— jay jackson (@campbutch) August 13, 2018
parenting done right, i welled up, my coworkers were emotional, it was everything— jay jackson (@campbutch) August 13, 2018
the parent also said that just because we're told by other people that we are something doesn't mean that its true 😍🥰— jay jackson (@campbutch) August 13, 2018
"It's so lovely to know there are parents like that out there who are raising their kids to be open to different identities."
The whole interaction made Jackson and their coworkers very emotional and has resonated with thousands of people on Twitter.
Jackson’s original tweet has been retweeted 40,000 times and liked 313,000 times, with many expressing their admiration for the adult’s parenting skills.
“I wish more parents were more accepting like this, and not so quick to judge,” one person wrote.
Another said: “To everyone who has ever freaked out about ‘But how will we explain this to the children?!?’ - kids are way more open to understanding than you give them credit for.”
While the story has received a very positive reaction on social media, some have been less accepting of the explanation of non-binary gender identification.
"The tweet getting so much attention was very unexpected, and the responses have been harder to deal with than I would have thought," Jackson says.
"I've had messages telling me I should die and compare this interaction to child abuse, whilst other people have been supporting me in incredible ways - from beautifully kind messages to donating to the fundraiser page my partner and I have for our fertility journey as a transgender couple."
"It's been a very emotional couple of days seeing so much interaction with my experience from all perspectives."
Jackson and their partner Reuben Lisgarten, who are both transgender and non-binary, are currently raising money for a fertility treatment in an effort to have a child together.
People who identify as non-binary may identify as a combination of different genders or as none at all, as the National Centre for Transgender Equality explains.
“People whose gender is not male or female use many different terms to describe themselves, with non-binary being one of the most common,” it states.
“Other terms include genderqueer, agender, bigender and more."