In August, Vogue published the highly anticipated cover story of the magazine’s September 2018 issue, over which Beyoncé was given full editorial control. In a rare as-told-to personal essay, Beyoncé divulges intimate aspects of her mysterious private life: She’s happy with her post-twins FUPA, she “come[s] from a lineage of broken male-female relationships,” and she’s raising her daughters, Blue and Rumi, and her son, Sir, without confining them to the expectations of traditional femininity and masculinity.
Of her daughters, Beyoncé writes, "They don’t have to be a certain type or fit into a specific category. [...] They can explore any religion, fall in love with any race, and love who they want to love.”
Similarly, in raising Sir, “I want him to know that he can be strong and brave, but that he can also be sensitive and kind,” Beyoncé writes. “I want my son to have a high emotional IQ where he is free to be caring, truthful, and honest. It’s everything a woman wants in a man, and yet we don’t teach it to our boys. I hope to teach my son not to fall victim to what the internet says he should be or how he should love.”
Beyoncé’s approach to parenting reflects those of other stars who, in recent years, have been vocal about raising children outside of gendered stereotypes.
Jada Pinkett Smith
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, parents to Willow and Jaden Smith, have openly discussed their philosophies when it comes to their children and gender roles, including the challenges they’ve faced in accepting their kids’ modern approaches to self-expression.
“The greatest gift that I can give my children is the freedom to be who they are," Will Smith told BET. In an episode of Red Table Talk earlier this summer, Jada Pinkett Smith admitted that allowing their kids to find their own gender expression hasn’t always come easy or felt natural to the couple.
“When Jaden got asked to do the women’s campaign for Louis Vuitton, this kind of gender fluid fashion, you know, Will called me,” Pinkett Smith said. “He's like, 'Nope. My son is not supposed to be in a Louis Vuitton ad wearing skirts. No, no, no, hold up… Is this a good idea?’"
Pinkett Smith says she told her husband, “‘You know what, Will? This is what he wants. This is his expression.’ And he said 'OK, OK.' But it was tight. He was afraid, it was uncomfortable. Because you know, as dads, expectations... 'macho, macho,' you know?"
In a 2010 interview with Vanity Fair, Angelina Jolie disclosed that one of her six children, whose birth name is Shiloh, was exploring their gender expression. “She likes to dress like a boy. She wants to be a boy. So we had to cut her hair. She likes to wear boys' everything. She thinks she's one of the brothers." In 2008, the child’s father, Brad Pitt, told Oprah Winfrey that the child prefers the name John, but the family has not since publicly announced whether or not they are transgender.
Singer Pink has two children, Willow and Jameson, and has said she is raising them without labels. “We are a very label-less household. Last week, Willow told me she is going to marry an African woman,” she told Sunday People in 2017.
Many took these comments to mean that Pink is raising her kids in a gender-neutral way, but she clarified to People in April that even “gender-neutral” is a label to her. “I feel like gender-neutral is in itself a label, and I’m label-less. I don’t like labels at all […] I believe that a woman and a girl can do anything,” she said. “I believe that a boy can do anything [too]. So I have boys that flip dirt bikes and I have boy friends that wear dresses. It’s all OK to me. It’s whatever floats your boat. So that’s the kind of house that we live in.”
Since Paloma Faith gave birth to her first child in December 2016, she has refused to publicly comment on her child’s name or pronouns, referring to her child as they/them to the press. Her reasons, she says, are both to protect the child’s privacy, but also to ensure that “they’re given all the opportunities to be the person they want to be.”
In an interview with The Mail, Faith said, “I’m not in denial of gender, but I want my child to feel that everything is available to them. And I have absolutely no problem if my child grows up not feeling an affinity with the gender they were born with, or if they’re homosexual or straight or whatever.”
In June 2018, Zoe Saldana told People that she and her husband aim to raise their three sons outside of gendered stereotypes. “[We] are raising our kids in a very gender-fluid environment, where our roles are, we swap back and forth,” she told the magazine.
“When you look at parenting, the whole thing about matriarchy and patriarchy, and Daddy’s little girl and Mama’s boys—my husband and I find that completely ludicrous and absolutely unhealthy for the upbringing of a child. You’re giving them a very distorted and limited view on what a female role is supposed to be in a family and what a male role is supposed to be.”