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Layshia Clarendon and her partner explain why they use gender-neutral pronouns with their child

Clarendon says they want to allow their child to chart their own path in life.

Atlanta Dream v New York Liberty
Layshia Clarendon is one of the foremost social advocates in pro sports.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

WNBA veteran Layshia Clarendon and her partner say they want their child to forge their own path in life. As a result, they’re using gender-neutral pronouns with their baby, and will allow them to decide how they wish to identify.

In a special Mother’s Day video, Clarendon and their partner, Jessica, explain what it means to parent in a gender-expansive manner. “Gender expansive” is an umbrella term used to describe people who expand notions of gender expression, according to GLAAD.

Clarendon publicly came out last December as trans and non-binary. (Clarendon has been one of only a handful of pro athletes identifying as gender non-conforming, using these pronouns interchangeably: She/Her/They/Them/He/Him. In this story, I will do the same in referring to them.)

“We know gender is something that an individual person decides for themselves, and it can change,” Clarendon said. “When kids are assigned male or female at birth, then parents give them pronouns. They’re like, ‘You were born with a vagina, and you’re a she.’ Or, ‘You were born with a penis, and they’re a he.’ We were intentional about that. We wanted to create a space for our child where they could have ownership and consent over their bodies.”

Layshia and Jessica opted to not learn their baby’s sex in advance. Clarendon says he wasn’t originally sure whether she wanted kids, preferring to talk out the process with Jessica, who carried their child.

“We really wanted to be intentional,” Clarendon said. “As queer people, so often we get caught up in assimilating like straight people and being like, ‘OK, let’s get the house, the 2.5 kids, the dog, and now we will be normal and we will fit in.’ It was like, ‘Do we want kids? Why do we want kids?’”

Clarendon has been open in their journey of self-discovery, publishing an essay six years ago in which he revealed they were non-cisgender. They revisited those words in December when he came out as trans and non-binary.

“There is indeed no one way to be Trans.” Clarendon wrote on Instagram. “Existing outside of the binary for me is freedom.”

The New York Liberty guard says she wants to provide their child with the same choice.

“We want our child to have every color in the rainbow, and every type of toy, and every type of book,” Clarendon said.