What’s in a name?

“Is this a girl?”

An elderly lady, seeing my baby, asked my husband and me this question as we were waiting to get on the funicular to visit Bergamo’s Upper City over the weekend.

I smiled and replied: “His name is Lorenzo.” Except that in Italian – “Si chiama Lorenzo” – you don’t need to use any pronoun.

Nacho, my husband, said: “I guess we have to wait for him to tell us when he knows.” (Again, no pronoun needed in Italian.)

I was thankful that the old woman didn’t pay attention to Nacho’s remark because I wasn’t ready to get into a conversation about gender early on a Saturday morning.

But Nacho is right. When Lorenzo, who is eight months old now, grows up, it will be up to him to know how to answer that question.

Well, kind of. Because even as I write this, I need to be constantly making a choice about the pronouns I use. Since Lorenzo was born with a penis, this is all I have to go on for now, so I use the masculine pronouns. I could be choosing to use a non-binary pronoun like they.

If I were speaking German, I would simply say das Baby, which uses the neutral gender, and I would choose the wor…

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