Are non-binary parents moms, dads, or...?

Seeing beyond gender in parenting and familial titles

When I was a toddler, my mother asked me what I wanted to call my great-grandmother seeing as “great-grandma Katherine” was a mouthful for anyone let alone a toddler to say. In all of my single-digit wisdom, I contemplated the question and decisively declared “KITTY.” Being 3 years old, I certainly was not aware that Kitty was a common nickname for Katherine (and my mother swears there were no cats in the room to sway my judgment toward the feline). I just happened to pick the perfect nickname on the fly, so perfect that from that day forward everyone in our family adopted Kitty as her new name.

Though I relish the opportunity to talk about kittens and use cat-related GIFs whenever humanly possible #catperson, I bring up the re-naming of my great-grandmother not to wedge cats into a conversation but to share a non-gendered example of a familial title. In fact, this is similar to how some non-binary folks choose their familial titles.

About a month ago, I interviewed Van Ethan Levy, a non-binary and trans therapist for my book. We talked about a lot of things but one of the many highlights of our conversation was discussing how non-binary parents chose the names their families use for them.

Some non-binary parents choose amalgamates of “mom” and “dad” like mapa or baba. Others create something unique to them. Van’s recommendation: Find what works for you. Van doesn’t have children but says if they did, they’d probably use “van tite,” the name their brother’s children call them. Van’s family lives in Puerto Rico and in Spanish tito means uncle, tita aunt, and tite gender-neutral.

Choosing what your family calls gives you something special that makes you feel connected that you don’t have to share with the rest of the world, Van says. Not only is that beautiful, it’s also something a lot of other families could benefit from — stepparents, foster parents, birth/first parents, donor parents, or anyone who parents that doesn’t feel comfortable using “mom” or “dad” (or if those titles are already taken).

If you’re a non-binary parent, I’d love to hear from you! What do your kids call you? If you’re non-binary and don’t have kids, have you thought about what you’d want to be called? And if so, what would that be?

Links I Like

  • This devastating essay by Alexandra King about miscarriages, IVF, and pregnancy is a must-read. It truly puts into words so many emotions that often feel impossible to capture.

  • Actor and comedian Tiffany Haddish did an interview in which she discussed donating her eggs and wanting to adopt older children. It’s a short interview but great to see these topics get more mainstream coverage.

  • MRIs are discouraged during pregnancy but sometimes the benefits outweigh the risk. A viral tweet shared some MRI images of fetuses in utero that look, in my opinion, equal parts cool and creepy. I saw a radiologist discussing these images on TikTok (Are you not on radiology TikTok? It’s the hottest corner of the internet) and he said they typically don’t show the images to the parents because they look like something out of a horror film.

Calls for Interviews

Surprise, surprise. I am still looking for people to interview. I’m hoping to feature at least 100 different perspectives in the book and so I will probably be putting out calls for interviews until I turn in my manuscript. I’m currently looking to interview adoptive parents, birth/first parents, and adoptees as well as people who feel they have to have children due to pressure from their families or religion.

If you are interested in sharing your perspective, please fill out this formI’m always looking for new perspectives so fill it out even if none of the above applies to you if you are interested in sharing. If you are open to sharing this with your networks, I’d be grateful and honored. (Note: this form is slightly different than the old one. If you filled out the old one, no need to fill out this one.)

When filling out the form, the more detail the better. Unfortunately, and I mean this because I love doing interviews, I do not have the bandwidth to interview everyone. I will however be using many of the responses in the book. I will be reaching out to people who filled out the form to let them know I am using their replies over the summer.

Keeping It Light

Using this month’s Keeping It Light section to address being a good ally ahead of Pride month. When referring to trans folks seeking out gender-affirming care (hormones, surgery, etc.) you should refer to this as “gender-affirming care” and not “transitioning.” Transitioning implies someone becoming something they weren’t. Trans folks are not becoming their gender, they’ve always been it.

I also want to pass along a resource from Van. The following is a list of mental health professionals who will sign off on gender-affirming care or name changes after one session. This works to prevent gatekeeping and helps trans people get the care and resources they deserve in a more timely manner. View the list.

Until next time,


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