Everyone has some interesting opinions about gender. I say this broadly, as a trans person, about most people all of the time. But specifically, I’m thinking about Emily Ratajkowski, who revealed her pregnancy via spoken word poetry, for Vogue, as part of a rambling inner monologue about football and gender binaries.
In a short video directed by Lena Dunham, which she describes as “the opposite of a People magazine baby announcement,” Emily Ratajkowski asks of her pregnancy: “Who will you be?”
In an accompanying Vogue essay, written by Emrata, she muses:
When my husband and I tell friends that I’m pregnant, their first question after “Congratulations” is almost always “Do you know what you want?” We like to respond that we won’t know the gender until our child is 18 and that they’ll let us know then. Everyone laughs at this. There is a truth to our line, though, one that hints at possibilities that are much more complex than whatever genitalia our child might be born with: the truth that we ultimately have no idea who—rather than what—is growing inside my belly. Who will this person be? What kind of person will we become parents to? How will they change our lives and who we are? This is a wondrous and terrifying concept, one that renders us both helpless and humbled.
Her assertion that a person can’t self-determine until they turn 18 is puzzling, but as I’ve already said, everyone has some puzzling opinions about gender, regardless. The rest of her essay, and the video itself, follows similar beats. When her husband informs someone “we’re pregnant,” she “resents” that “his entire family’s DNA is inside of me but that my DNA is not inside him.” One night, she recounts scrolling through a series of Instagram gender reveal videos, and remarks that she feels “impolite” watching them, like she is “peering in on something intensely private.” Later in the essay, her husband is watching football, and this interaction happens: “He makes a remark about how it’d be fun to have a little boy to watch with. “Girls watch football too!” I shoot back. He shrugs his shoulders and laughs.”
Her feeling that she might possibly have a boy persists throughout the rest of her essay. Midway through, Emrata recalls a phone call with a friend about the subject, during which they “immediately agree” on her premonition:
Despite my apprehensions about having a boy, when I call my best friend to tell her I’m pregnant, we both immediately agree on our shared instinct: I’m carrying a boy. “I’m picturing a dark-haired son,” my friend tells me over FaceTime, “I don’t know why; I can just see it.” I nod and study the red fabric of my couch, trying to imagine a baby boy’s tiny body lying next to my thigh.
Musing on her urges, and the urges of her husband and friends and family, she writes: “A lot of our life experiences are gendered, and it would be dishonest to try to deny the reality of many of them.” Emrata grapples with this, for a bit, wondering how a child can escape the constraints placed upon them from birth, by society at large, and their own family, and then ends her essay with the internal realization that she is “undeniably helpless when it comes to almost everything surrounding my pregnancy,” but the thought, she writes, leaves her “surprisingly unbothered.” Congrats to her, then, and that husband of hers. Please know that you don’t have to be 18 to form an opinion about gender. Everyone clearly has lots of them, even kids, and babies, and me, and most especially, Emrata.