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How can I prevent gender confusion for baby about my brother/sister

(41 Posts)
Clumsymumsy22 Wed 01-Mar-17 20:18:36


Not really sure if this is the right section to put this in.

My older brother is autistic and has had anxieties around his gender for about 5 years now. He self diagnoses off the Internet, and will only hear what he wants to hear to make it fit with a diagnosis he's decided he has. He doesn't take on board reassurances or anything to help him reduce his anxiety, and every now and then he comes up with a grand plan to prove whether or not he has something. The latest is he is determined to have an MRI done privately (nhs have said no) to prove he is intersex.

He flits from being his female persona and his male persona, but he insists that he wants to become a woman. We were all calling him by his feminine name and he was about to change it by deed poll, but around Christmas he decided that he was going to stay male and stopped it all. But now he insists that he wants to be female, and talks about having operations such as gender reassignment his Adam's apple being removed. (The inconsistency is why I am referring to the masculine domain rather than feminine). He is massively underweight, and he doesn't eat enough to maintain a healthy body weight, but he doesn't seem to be bothered to do anything about it.

Anyway, I'm heavily pregnant now and birth is imminent. I talked to him today and told him I want him to think of a gender neutral name for his relationship to baby, as I don't want her to be confused. I gave examples and suggested things like 'noo noo' or 'meemaw'. He didn't like these names and said he wants to be auntie name he has given himself

I've explained his inconsistency is confusing for us at the best of times, let alone for a baby or small child who doesn't understand the concept of gender. She will probably decide what to call him anyway.

My partner said that our priority is baby, and this might mean that she will call my brother something that he doesn't like.

I don't know how to address this, as he's adamant that he wants to be referred to as auntie, but he's not consistent with it. I'm scared this will just confuse her.

What can I do? I think I've taken a reasonable step by suggesting gender neutral names but this doesn't seem to be enough for him.

FlaviaAlbia Wed 01-Mar-17 20:23:23

Well, on the bright side, time is on your side and you have years yet before it will get confusing for your DC.

To be fair to him, the names you came up with are fairly ridiculous. In your situation I would just use the name of his choice without a prefix and if he doesn't like it, too bad.

celeryeater Wed 01-Mar-17 20:23:50

I wouldn't really worry about it. It's quite a way off if you are still pregnant, just let your child decide what to call them. They might have moved onto something else by the time it's even relevant.

AnotherEmma Wed 01-Mar-17 20:24:11

This is such a weird conversation for you to be having before your baby is even born! Your baby won't be talking for a long time yet! And when baby does start talking you can just call your brother by their chosen first name, surely?

I think it's really important for children to encounter people who don't fit social "norms" and to learn that's ok, to accept and be respectful towards those people. So if your brother sometimes identifies as male and sometimes as female, sometimes wants to be called uncle and sometimes auntie, that's FINE.

Your child will probably accept it more readily than you do tbh.

smilingsarahb Wed 01-Mar-17 20:24:15

I wouldn't worry about it. Young children are very accepting. If one week he's called uncle and next auntie I don't think they will care or be confused.

PurpleDaisies Wed 01-Mar-17 20:24:31

Why can't the baby just call your brother by his name? Is it really important to give him a label?

AdelindSchade Wed 01-Mar-17 20:30:59

Children are quite adaptable really. It's one of those things that seems like a problem but probably won't be an issue when it comes down to it. Dc will just get on with it.Sounds like quite a lot of hard work for you

MajesticWhine Wed 01-Mar-17 20:37:08

Cross that bridge when it comes to it. If your child asks then you just have to tell it like it is. Say, s/he is sometimes not sure if she is a boy or a girl. I can't see this causing any damage.

AnotherEmma Wed 01-Mar-17 20:42:33

Maybe he identifies as gender fluid and that's ok. He doesn't have to fit in one box or the other if he doesn't want to.

(Using "he" since you do, it's a shame we don't have a good gender neutral pronoun - "they" always sounds clunky!)

Desperina Wed 01-Mar-17 20:43:36

Noonoo or meemaw!? hmmhmmhmm surprised they did not embrace this suggestion.

I think you are making a big deal about something that is not necessarily ever going to be a problem, and even if it was somehow it won't be for a long time. Children are far more accepting than adults.


FourToTheFloor Wed 01-Mar-17 20:49:19

OP I get your concern while pp have enjoyed minimising and taking the piss.

Do you mean in a way that you might pass your dd to your brother and say go uncle /aunty and you'd like him to have a name then?

Pretty obvious she didn't mean the baby will be born talking but fuck me if this place sometimes isn't just filled with sarcastic unhelpful meemaw's.

PigletWasPoohsFriend Wed 01-Mar-17 20:51:22

Noonoo or meemaw

Can't possibly think why they wouldn't like those names hmm

AndNowItsSeven Wed 01-Mar-17 20:51:40

Why can't your baby just call him David?

Ommletta35 Wed 01-Mar-17 20:54:43

I think you are totally jumping the gun and making an issue of something which may or may not happen in the future.

WatchingFromTheWings Wed 01-Mar-17 20:59:22


I hear Sheldon Cooper saying that in my head when I read it. grin

Clumsymumsy22 Wed 01-Mar-17 21:02:41

I'm just preparing as even before children talk they are still absorbing information and learning from it. I think it could help her with being open minded about the subject. Brother wearing women's clothes etc and calling him by his feminine name etc is fine. I just wanted it to be consistent so she will be confident and know who he is.

I've had plenty of reassurance that children will adapt to the situation, and I think I'm just going to let baby choose what to call him when she's old enough.

Thank you

AnotherEmma Wed 01-Mar-17 21:07:34

That's the point though - it sounds like "who he is" is gender fluid, which by definition is not "consistent", and that's ok smile

Anyway I think your plan is a good one smile

FellOutOfBed2wice Wed 01-Mar-17 21:09:56

As others have said, this won't be an issue for ages and even then if it's just normal to the child they won't know any different. I can understand your concern, before I had DD1 I had no concept of kids or their development and when they understood stuff and at what ages etc. I don't mean that in a patronising way- sorry if it sounds like that- I just mean I would have worried in your position before I had kids, but now I have them I know this kind of thing isn't a big deal to kids.

For what it's worth, my 2.5 yo DD1 is very close to my sister- her auntie- and sees her almost daily. However if I say "who's your auntie?" She is perplexed and has to think about it... because she just calls her Jane*, not "Auntie Jane"

*obvs, not her real name!

Clumsymumsy22 Wed 01-Mar-17 21:14:09


yes this is exactly what I mean! So she can learn who people are as they are so absorbent even before they are talking.

There are very few gender neutral names out the for family members and this was meant as a joke when I suggested it to him - I wasn't actually expecting him to take them up. I told him to think about it what he wanted to be called and come up with a name he likes himself.

PurpleDaisies Wed 01-Mar-17 21:18:19

yes this is exactly what I mean! So she can learn who people are as they are so absorbent even before they are talking.

But she will know who he is. confused

She'll just need to be taught the right pronoun when she's old enough or your brother decides what he'd like told called.

Cricrichan Wed 01-Mar-17 21:25:44

Kids don't care. Your child will call your brother whatever and it'll be the relationship between them that will count and not the title. Don't worry about it.

StarUtopia Wed 01-Mar-17 21:29:10

My brother is autistic. Admittedly doesn't have the gender issue. But, he is somewhat 'weird'/quirky.

Our kids think he's amazing! He's just their Uncle R to them.

You have years and years before you need to even be thinking about this.

MommaGee Wed 01-Mar-17 21:29:45

well the names you suggested are ones i hear people on telly use for grandparents so not totally out there.

as for your sibling, your daughter will recognise him and will call him lots of things. my niece always confused aunty and uncle and they usually start with just a first name anyway. is his female name very feminine or similar to his birth name? Just wondering if theres a compromise there

Floggingmolly Wed 01-Mar-17 21:35:35

Noo noo or Meemaw??

IamNotDarling Wed 01-Mar-17 21:42:50

I wouldn't worry until the baby is older. Sounds like your sibling flip flops.

In any case kids make up their own nicknames for people. My DH (not a gender fluid person at all!) was called Clanty HisName by my DN from being a toddler until he was 14, which is a mishmash of aunty and uncle which he entirely made up himself. grin

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