Busy Philipps explains how allies need to ‘do the work’ after revealing her gay child uses they/them pronouns

Busy Phillips Birdie Silverstein non-binary

Dawson’s Creek star and abortion rights campaigner Busy Philipps has opened up about how she learned to support her gay 12-year-old.

Philipps revealed on her 31 December that her eldest child is gay and uses they/them pronouns.

The 41-year-old opened up about raising Birdie Leigh, 12, with husband Marc Silverstein on her podcast Busy Philipps Is Doing Her Best.

“For those of you who are my friends listening at home, this is the first you’re hearing that Birdie is gay and out,” she said.

“Birdie told us at 10 years old and we immediately, I mean, obviously, I knew that Birdie knew.”

Phillips added that Birdie’s pronouns are they/them, but admitted that in public she had been “doing a bad job with the pronouns” because she respects Birdie’s privacy.

Shantira Jackson, who co-hosts the podcast with Busy Philipps, said that switching pronouns for someone can be an adjustment, but that it becomes easier over time.

“It’s like any other muscle, any other new language, any other new thing,” Jackson said. “You will get right at it, and it will become second nature.”

She added that she tries to “try to connect that part of my brain with that pronoun” by practising using a person’s pronouns when they aren’t there, out loud, to help ease the change.

Some of Jackson’s friends have changed pronouns during the pandemic, and she’s using the time before she sees them to make sure that she gets it right. “I’m not gonna see you for a year, but when I see you, I’ll have worked on it,” she explained.

Jackson also tries to use less gendered language – “folks” or “y’all” instead of “you guys” or “ladies and gentlemen” – to try to avoid assuming people’s genders. This is something, she said, that anyone can do – whether or not you have a trans or non-binary person in your life.

That’s “a great f**king point”, Busy Philipps said. A lot of people wonder what it means to “do the work”, and a lot of the time the answer to that is “figure it out yourself”, she said. But Philipps added that using less gendered language is “a thing you can do” to be a better ally.

“It’s not their burden to bear for you to figure out how to say they/them,” Jackson said.

“Nor is it their burden to have the conversation with you [about] why,” Philipps replied.

“And if you find that you’re like, ‘I don’t want to do it’, you should go to therapy and talk about it,” Jackson added.