‘Theybies’: the rise of gender-creative parenting

The recent controversial feature on parents raising gender-neutral “Theybies” broadcast on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes documentary strand caused quite a stir. Ideologically motivated parents were seen declaring their belief in referring to their children purely via fashionable they/them pronouns, in the name of letting toddlers decide who they really are, rather than simply letting biology settle the matter for them, as is traditional.

“We’re not trying to eliminate gender,” protested one social scientist and “gender creative expert” wheeled out to justify the experiment. “We’re actually trying to show how limitless gender can be.” Critics may protest that children need limits, and that such child-rearing methods will simply make kids confused, but supporters may equally argue parents have the right to raise their own offspring how they personally feel fit.

The latter argument may have some merit: but what happens when these same people capture our institutions and try to raise other people’s children along these same bizarre intersex lines too, whether other kids’ parents like it or not?

‘They’ came from outer space

One common practice amongst such parents is giving their Theybies weird, non-identifiably male or female names, like Zoomer, Searyl, Zyler, Sparrow or various other things which sound like Pokémon. Another oddly-named gender-neutral infant is Tala, who lives in the English county of Hertfordshire, but at least Tala has an excuse for being so unusually christened – for Tala is an alien.

Unveiled by Hertfordshire County Council in 2022, Tala is a cute cartoon mascot intended to encourage small children to use local library services. Tala replaced the now vanished Bookstart Bear, a previous incumbent who was also happily genderless – but for completely innocent reasons. Wishing to appeal to boys and girls equally, previous librarians had quietly failed to address the hitherto irrelevant issue of Bookstart Bear’s genitalia, pragmatically referring to the beast in promotional literature simply by name, not pronouns, so as not to put one gender or the other off from borrowing books.

Tala is fundamentally different. Intended as a “vibrant community asset”, Tala’s very name is an appeal to the Great God Diversity, having various meanings in global languages like Arabic, Polynesian and Filipino. But Tala also has very definite pronouns – they/them ones, like a true Theybie. “We hope that families love Tala as much as we loved creating them!” said council representatives, thereby getting toddlers grammatically confused as soon as they so much as set foot inside a library building.

Learning an alien language

When stubborn parents of local Hebies and Shebies heard Tala referred to as “they” by library staff, they took to social media to complain about this “trans alien” in their midst, concerns later amplified by prominent British trans-sceptical feminist Maya Forstater. In response, the council denied Tala was transgender, calling the idea “grossly misleading and wildly inaccurate”. But their denial sounded disingenuous: “In the absence of a gender for this alien creature, we simply use gender-neutral language when talking about them to the public.”

Gender-neutral such language may be, but it is not politically neutral; promoting gender-neutral pronouns to babies helps entrench such concepts in the public mind, particularly that of the next generation.

Accordingly, the queer-friendly press jumped to Tala’s defence, with Pink News mocking Forstater’s “truly confounding obsession with the sex, gender and reproduction habits of a made-up library alien”. Hard-left website WorkersLiberty.org (inadvertently accurate slogan: “Reason in Revolt”) acted similarly, although it did take time to note approvingly that, as Tala wore gender-neutral dungarees and bobble hat, the tiny alien “sort of dresses like a queer university student” of lesbian tastes.

The basic implication was clear: local parents and TERFs like Forstater were just suspicious loons, seeing an imaginary agenda of leftists trying to queer their kids where none in fact existed. But were they really so paranoid?

The elephant in the schoolroom

Tala’s case is not without parallel when it comes to using kids’ books as a Trojan Horse (or, as below, Trojan Elephant) to proselytize LGBTQ+ themes to unknowing children. In 2019, Muslim parents in the UK rebelled against the imposition of the gay-friendly teaching-scheme “No Outsiders” in their primary schools. Partly created by a gay teacher named Andrew Moffat, who in 2014 had resigned from his post following parental complaints about him promoting homosexuality to his students, the scheme posed as a pro-tolerance, anti-bullying platform.

As such, liberal media commentators, like Alice Thomson of the London Times, mocked Muslim parents who questioned it as primitive, God-bothering fools, incredulously writing: “They even questioned books about Elmer the patchwork elephant because he is rainbow-colored and so might be teaching their children to be gay.”

Except, as a more honest analysis of the affair on UK Muslim website islam21c.com observed: “Invariably, when describing the “No Outsiders” … programs to the media, Mr Moffat will show the mildest of books, ones that include cute cartoon animals [like Elmer] not fitting into a group because they are a different colour or shape and how they overcome that … It will be stated that the program merely highlights the existence of diversity when it is really much more than that.”

Islam21c.com examined the actual pedagogic academic papers of “No Outsiders”, concluding their authors truly sought to destroy sexual normativity amongst primary-age students by “disrupting [the] heterosexual matrix”. Heterosexual parents were constantly “asserting their majority status” via “the casual and unrestrained use of pronouns”, the academics complained, or showing people photos of their (disappointingly non-gay) wives or husbands at the school gates, and these hideously straight trends had to be counteracted.

However, as Moffat had earlier found, many parents did not appreciate their kids being surreptitiously turned against their normative upbringings in this way. Therefore, as previously shown on MercatorNet, it was thought better to present such schemes as ones in which “homophobia and heteronormativity were challenged as cultural phenomena (like racism)” – i.e. to disingenuously disguise “No Outsiders” as an innocent anti-bullying reading resource, centred upon the theme of not persecuting those who look or act different from their schoolyard peers.

Enter Elmer the Elephant.

Fifty Shades of Grey

The best-selling Elmer books were born in 1968, created by British author David McKee, who was inspired to write them when his mixed-race daughter had racial abuse hurled at her in the street one day. Elmer is an elephant who, like McKee’s daughter in 1960s Britain, was a different colour than all the other animals around him – multi-hued like a patchwork quilt, not grey.

To blend in, Elmer paints himself grey too, using berry-juice. But when rain washes this off, his fellow elephants decide they prefer him this way after all. Accepting his differences, they paint themselves like rainbows too, something initially just an allegory for racial harmony: but which, viewed through woke eyes, has now become a metaphor for queering children instead.

In 2014, Elmer was celebrated by left-wing UK newspaper The Guardian as having “become an LGBT hero!”, with McKee obligingly observing how “I find it interesting that sometimes people write to me and refer to Elmer as a girl in the stories – as Elma.” Like Nelly gone wrong, the elephant had by now indeed packed away his trunk (the one previously hanging politely unseen and unmentioned between his legs) and said hello to the gender circus.

Pink elephants

By 2021, Elmer’s UK publishers Andersen Press had teamed up with gay rights charities to create “new [Gay] Pride assets” for use in schools, “with elephant characters in the colors of the Pride, Lesbian, Bi and Trans flags” for an educationally essential new nationwide brainwashing festival called “School Diversity Week”. Now, rather than simply discouraging racism, “Elmer celebrates everyone’s true colours”, even those of pansexual bigender two-year-olds.

Elmer has even been the subject of a 2011 US doctoral thesis, “Reading Queer Subtexts in Children’s Literature”, which concludes colourful Elmer “is a walking Gay Pride flag”. Apparently, the playful beast “is both gay in the sense that he is delightful and happy and in the sense that he is queer.” Furthermore, “the [hetero]normative assumptions in the text turn out to be false”, meaning Elmer “becomes such a perfect allegory for the closet in which many homosexual children exist.”

Accordingly, Rainbow Elmer’s books are today sold in gay bookshops and appear in LGBTQ+ curriculum guides for teachers. One such document, used in Scotland, takes a leaf from the Andrew Moffat playbook, pointing out that “Although nothing in the story references LGBT people directly, it can be used to start a longer conversation about diversity and difference, and LGBT people or families can be included in those discussions.”

So, when commentators like Alice Thomson smear Muslim parents as paranoid for suspecting their kids might secretly be being groomed to be gay by elephants, they are really just trying to put others off from voicing their (in fact wholly legitimate) concerns by discrediting anyone who speaks out as a delusional extremist nutcase, precisely same tactic used today with Tala the trans alien.

From the 1950s to the 1970s, there was a popular learn-to-read series of books used in British schools called “The Gay Way Reading Scheme“, whose cheerful slogan, “Learn to read the Gay Way!”, ensured they ultimately had to be pulped (their chief competitors, “Through the Rainbow“, benefitted only temporarily …). These days, it increasingly seems that learning to read “the Gay Way” is the only option our kids now have.


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