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Non-binary parent calls Piers Morgan ‘childist,’ leaving him speechless

Sofia Lotto Persio March 6, 2019
Non-binary parent Ari Dennis called Piers Morgan a childist while discussing their gender-open approach to parenting.

Non-binary parent Ari Dennis called Piers Morgan a childist while discussing their gender-open approach to parenting. (ITV)

Florida-based non-binary parent Ari Dennis rendered Piers Morgan “speechless,” while also accusing the ITV host of holding ‘childist’ views.

Dennis, who uses they/them pronouns, appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain (GMB) on Wednesday (March 6) to talk about one of Morgan’s favourite topics: gender.

Dennis’ parenting philosophy was first featured in an NBC News piece in July focusing on “theybies”—children that are not assigned a gender until they pick one themselves.

Several other media outlets have since picked up the story, interviewing Dennis about their experience. Dennis explained in an interview with local news channel 10News that their approach is to not impose a gender on their children, but let them decide what feels good to them once they have the ability to understand what their gender identity is.

When the non-binary parent appeared on GMB, Morgan questioned their choices in raising their two theybies—eight-year-old Hazel and Sparrow, who is one.

Non-binary parent Ari Dennis thinks it's a form of "childism" to force children to adopt a certain gender identity they did not choose.
Non-binary parent Ari Dennis rejected Piers Morgan’s opposition to gender-open parenting as a form of ‘childism.’

While their approach may be unique, Dennis isn’t the only parent thinking about how to raise their children free from gender stereotypes.

Celebrities like Kate Hudson have recently opened up about wanting to raise a “genderless” child and even Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are rumoured to have chosen a gender-neutral colour scheme for their baby’s nursery.

Morgan, who has previously ridiculed non-binary understandings of gender, approached his interview with Dennis in his trademark polemic style.

This time, he perhaps inadvertently ended up making his interviewee’s point.

“I let them be what they are, which is a toddler.”

— Non-binary parent Ari Dennis on their gender-open approach to parenting

He said: “The idea that you as a parent would even countenance the idea that a two-year-old child has any ability to form any serious perception of gender, frankly—and I put it to you respectfully—is utterly ridiculous and actually damaging to that child.”

Dennis answered: “In that case, as you say, if a two-year-old child genuinely has no ability to conceptualise gender, isn’t it toxic and bizarre that at two, we are telling someone you are a boy because of your anatomy?

“Doesn’t it make more sense that, if a two-year-old genuinely has no ability to process what their gender is, as you said, that I don’t tell them what their gender is and I don’t emphasise gender constantly? I let them be what they are, which is a toddler.”

What does it mean to be childist? Non-binary parent explains term to Piers Morgan

In the case of their older child, eight-year-old Hazel, the child eventually identified as demigirl—in Hazel’s words, “kind of a girl and I’m kind of person”—and decided their own name at four, while also preferring the use of “they/them” pronouns. Hazel’s parents changed their legal name two years later.

But Morgan objected: “Allowing a three-year-old child to decide their name on a whim. Everyone with kids is going, ‘What?’ Kids will come up with all sort of nonsense at that age.”

“Childism is the normalisation of the mistreatment of children just because they’re young.”

— Non-binary parent Ari Dennis on the meaning of a childist

Dennis replied: “What you’re expressing is a bit of childism, which is assuming that someone has to be a legal adult to have the capacity to know themselves and I think a child can explore identity.”

The term “childism” struck Morgan as odd, and he asked what it meant. His co-host Susanna Reid came in to help: “You’re against children making their own decisions.”

Dennis offered their own definition of being a childist: “Childism is the normalisation of the mistreatment of children just because they’re young, assuming they can’t have opinions and ideas, mistreating them, treating them like property, or denying their identity or autonomy.”

After the interview, Morgan was quoted in the Daily Mirror as remarking: “Not much leaves me speechless. That interview has left me completely and utterly speechless.”

More: childism, childist, gender-neutral pronouns, good morning britain, LGBT parenting, piers morgan

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