The first time my oldest child told me that gender existed on a spectrum, we were parked in the driveway, sitting in our old Honda minivan with the engine idling and the radio off. Miriam had just returned from a youth group weekend and we were catching up.
“No, sweetheart,” I said to my precocious 14-year-old. “Sexuality is on a spectrum; you can be straight, gay or lots of things in between. Gender is either male or female.”
Miriam corrected me. “No, Mom. Gender is on a spectrum, too.”
At the end of high school, Miriam came out as non-binary. That, too, was a confusing surprise. My husband David and I listened intently, nodded in all the right places, and said we would do everything we could to be supportive. We had no idea what that meant. I would be lying if I pretended it’s been easy.
For the first 18 years of Miriam’s life, I was sure I was raising a daughter. And I was. Until that daughter told me they were neither female or male, and that I should switch to “they/them/their” pronouns when referring to them in the third person.