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StoryCorps: “The difference is in everybody’s heads.”

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Photo: StoryCorps

Jonathan Hankins and partner Maura Barnett are expecting their first child and discuss raising him with their gender nonconforming values.

Maura: One of my favorite memories when we actually went baby clothes shopping for the first time, my favorite part of that trip was definitely leaving the boy aisle. [Laughter] Although the dungarees with trains on it are really cute, it felt very limiting. I loved when you took my arm and said “lets go look in the girl aisle.” And that was my favorite part —looking through the things with pretty polka dots. And I loved that we got different items for Sagan that are gender nonconforming even though he will be two weeks old. [Laughter]

I remember writing you letters-2

Jonathan: I think some of the best stuff we got came from the girls section. [Laughter] Once we had all of our kind of little outfits we had bought, there really wasn’t that much difference.

Maura: No.

Jonathan: The difference is in everybody’s heads. It’s not in the clothing.

Maura: We think it’s in everybody’s heads, but when we take him around and he has the outfit on with the purple monkey with the tiara and the purple pearls, then we’ll probably learn about some of the challenges that we really do have.

Jonathan: Hopefully we’ll find ourselves in a better place to provide a safe environment for him to be that creative individual. I have great hopes that the rest of the society around us as he grows up will find itself dragged to a little bit better place. And when he is our age, he will find things more natural that we feel like we have to struggle for right now.

Maura: “Struggle” is an interesting word to use because I think we have both been really blessed. We’ve both had long lives of experimenting with our choice in partners — doesn’t matter what gender they are. We’ve loved people we wanted to love, and it hasn’t felt like a struggle to me. I think we will pass that confidence along to him, that he’s in a secure and safe environment and a loving environment, and I think he’ll be just as blessed we’ve been

Jonathan: I hope so. I think that will be a great legacy to give. I think passing along the kind of tolerant, accepting, loving home that our families provided will be a great gift to him.

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