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Busy Philipps on respecting her nonbinary child's pronouns: 'You don't have to understand it'

·2-min read
Busy Philipps opens up about raising a femme-presenting, nonbinary child. (Photo: Sarah Morris/Getty Images)
Busy Philipps opens up about raising a femme-presenting, nonbinary child. (Photo: Sarah Morris/Getty Images)

In December, actress Busy Philipps announced that her older child, 12-year-old Birdie, is gay and uses they/them pronouns. Now, in a new interview with Health — in which she appears on the magazine's June cover — the 41-year-old star opens up about being a supportive parent to Birdie, whom she describes as being "femme-presenting nonbinary."

The Girls5eva star previously admitted on her Busy Philipps is Doing Her Best podcast that she's struggled to get Birdie's pronouns right, saying, "I f*** up sometimes, but I’m trying my best at that, too." Her own mother — whom Philipps and her family recently surprised over Mother's Day weekend after more than a year apart — is experiencing her own growing pains. 

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"My mom is older and wants to understand the pronoun conversation more," Philipps, who also shares 7-year-old daughter Cricket with husband Marc Silverstein, tells Health. "There are some really good books out there — like What's Your Pronoun? Beyond He & Sheby Dennis Baron. I said to my mother, 'Here's the deal: You don't have to understand it.' That's how I feel about all human rights — you don't have to understand it. You can choose to believe what you want, but you don't get to have jurisdiction over anyone else's body or belief system."

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The interview — for which Philipps poses topless to encourage other women to get mammograms, her breast still visibly bruised from a recent biopsy — also sees the former Dawson's Creek star sharing how she approaches parenting from a mental health perspective. 

"I think the secret with kids is leading by example," she says. "I make a concerted effort to be aware of how I talk about diet and exercise around them — like, what my intention and goals are with those things. I'm also lucky that I have a partner in Marc, who does cycling and works out for his own mental health. We talk about therapy in our house and never shy away from hard conversations. 

She adds, "I've always been open — but not in that 'I'm not a regular mom; I'm a cool mom' way. I don't want to be my kids' best friend. I want them to know by watching me what my values are and the things that are important. You can tell your kids to stand up for what's right until you're blue in the face. If they don't see you doing it, they never will."

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