Beyond mummy or daddy: Names for non-binary parents

shecallsmethey asked:

“Question that came about after telling my brother I’m Genderqueer (It still amazes me how well he’s handled all of my coming out moments): Is there a word for parents who go by they/them? Is it up to the parent?”

Hello shecallsmethey!

So glad that your brother is amazing you and is amazing! It’s always lovely to hear about people who are taking things in stride and asking really compelling, thoughtful questions like this one.

There seem to be two secondary questions here: the first is what word can be used to describe someone who parents but who is non-binary, and the second is what can children call their non-binary (or genderqueer, etc.) parent? For the first, I think the word parent is the fairly easy answer, and works here just like partner or spouse (check this out). The much harder question is the second question. What children call their parents (e.g., Mum, Dad, etc.) is of course up to the parent, but getting others onboard if one chooses something out of the ordinary and/or non-gendered will be challenging.

This question is very timely in my own life as I’m getting ever closer to the decision to have children as a non-binary transgender person. What would my kids call me? What might the repercussions be if I am not called Mum, Dad, etc. particularly when my children are little and unable to explain the nuances of my identity to people who are unsure of who I am in relation to my child? Obviously, I imagine strange, awkward or otherwise sad-making situations where my little one is upset because they learn that other people think me, them and our family structure is/are weird. Or, when they learn that other people think I’m not their real parent or something because they don’t call me Mummy or Daddy. I try to move past these things in order to find something my children can call me that I love and they can say, and not just something that would pacify the imaginary chorus of others. It’s tough.

While I don’t have an answer yet, my partner and I have talked about two approaches that feel good to us:

1) Instead of saying “you have a Mum (my partner’s choice) and a TBA” we would say “you have two parents and one is called Mum and one is called TBA,” so making our titles personal and less tied to a particular role. This would require much repetition over time.

2) Getting rid of titles altogether and using our names with our children until something organically arises from their own efforts with language and sticks around long enough to become a nickname. This is how I came by the lovely little name that my nieces and nephew call me: Wizzie (for real).

Both of these will provoke interesting and challenging situations for us and our children, but they feel better than the alternative.

If you are a GNP user or non-binary-identified person or someone who for any reason doesn’t use Mum, Dad, etc. with your children, please let TIMP know whether in comments below or on Tumblr (via non-anonymous or anonymous comments)!

Thanks for the question, shecallsmethey!

Be well,



  1. This wasn’t helpful at all? Shecallsmethey asked a question that the poster gave a round about non-answer to. We need ideas, not shitty comments like “why not call them ‘it’?”


    1. Hi Ollie,

      I’m sorry that my answer didn’t meet your needs. I’m not sure where you are seeing the suggestion “why not call them ‘it'” in my response. This is not something I would ever suggest unless I was addressing someone who uses ‘it’ as their preferred gender pronoun (very rare).

      The ideas I share are a) using ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’ but changing how they are used and b) using our name not one of these titles, whether forever or until kids develop language and make up their own way of referring to us.

      I would love to hear your own take on this question, if you would like to share with me and TIMP readers.

      Take care,


      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is still not helpful.

        So I am non-binary also!

        When I become a parent I will be using the term Ren or Renny instead of mom or dad.

        ^ something along those lines is something that the person asking the question was asking.


  2. Zaza
    Nibi (NB/non-binary)
    Par (short for parent)
    Per (^same)

    First initial Last initial and make something cute out of it. Ex:
    – my initials HD = Haddy maybe?
    – friend JG = Jayge (like gauge)
    – friend NR = Nurry/Narra/Namray

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think baba is one of the best cause easy to pronounce and goes well with papa, and mama, another more gender neutral one would be Nana if both parents were non binary, these titles seem more simple in a modern setting.


  3. something i found a while ago was using ‘Ren’ or ‘Renny’ instead of mum/mummy or dad/daddy. thi such a cute nickname (deriving from paRENt i believe) and can be used by any one, even parents of the same gender that want different names

    Liked by 2 people

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