The Genderless Baby

I came across an article (or 50) yesterday about a genderless baby in Canada. Now it’s not that the baby has no gender, just that his (or her) parents have decided not to tell anyone what baby Storm’s gender is. The following extract is from the Nine MSN website:

The world needs to accept the right of a child to choose their sex, according to the Canadian parents raising a “genderless child”.

A barrage of abuse has been levied against Kathy Witterick and David Stocker who have taken the decision to keep the sex of their four-month-old baby Storm hidden, claiming the baby should not have to conform to social stereotypes, the Daily Mail.

Ms Wittrick said she was fed up with people asking when the pair will come out to tell the world their child’s sex.

In an email, she has hit back at critics, stating that the idea “the whole world must know what is between the baby’s legs is unhealthy, unsafe and voyeuristic. We know — and we’re keeping it clean, safe, healthy and private (not secret!).”

She previously told the Toronto Star: “When will this end? When will we live in a world where people can make choices to be whoever they are?”

The idea of not forcing gender stereotypes onto a child I think is a good one. I don’t like the idea of forcing little girls into dresses and wearing pink from head to toe while they play with their dolls and stay clean. The same goes for making little boys play with cars and trucks and telling them that they are not allowed to play with dolls. If they choose that, then fine, but the idea of forcing things onto children because we believe that that is the societal norm is not fair.

We try to allow our children to do things that they enjoy regardless of what the typical gender stereotypes say. Take my son for example. When he was younger he adored playing with handbags and would go through mine several times a day & it would drive me crazy. It only drove me crazy because I would have to repack my handbag & so many times I got to the shops to find my cards missing from my wallet because he’d thrown them around somewhere. So instead of telling him no, my sister gave him one of her old handbags (pale purple with a bit of bling) and we filled it with things he loved. He had an old gift card, toy keys, toy wallet, and old mobile phone and all sorts of things in there. He would carry it around & tell me he was going shopping and generally enjoy having a bag like his mummy. He still now at 6 years old love to have his nails painted, the last colour he picked only a few weeks ago was green with silver glitter. His school doesn’t allow nail polish but he was satisfied with his sparkly toes!

My husband has twin cousins who are around 9 years old (gosh i can’t remember exactly, how bad is that), anyway when they were around two years old I was babysitting them with my mother-in-law. We took them outside and it was amazing to watch the differences between the two. Both sat in the sand pit with some shovels and buckets, which I consider a gender neutral this to do. The interesting part came when little miss started “cooking” with her shovel as a spoon and the bucket as a bowl. The little man on the other hand dug car tracks with his shovel and “drove” rocks around the sand pit. Neither were given any suggestions on what to do, but this is how it happened.

I guess it comes back to the nature versus nurture debate. These two twins were parented the same way but they both chose gender oriented rolls to play in the sand pit even though the toys were gender neutral. Does it mean that by nature a boy is going to do certain things and a girl is going to do other things?

I don’t know to be honest, yes even after two psychology degrees :P

The things that concerns me for Storm is that by taking away his or her gender, aren’t the parents pushing on him or her an androgenous personality? To me, that’s as bad as forcing a certain gender stereotype onto the child. I think this child is going to grow up confused and not knowing where s/he stands in the world. The baby is only four months old now, but what happens as s/he grows older (I keep going to write it, but can’t). The older siblings (aged three and five years) have been sworn to secrecy, will they request the same of Storm? What school uniform will the child wear, which toilets to go to at school?

The other thing that concerns me is that the mother believes it is “unhealthy, unsafe and voyeuristic” for people to know what gender her child is. Except that she has brought the attention of the world to her child. The world at large is voyeuristic and she has stuck her child in the middle of that. How many people worldwide are now curious to get a glimpse at the “genderless child”? And what happens when someone takes it a step too far and tries to find out what sex the baby is for themselves???

Anyway that’s my rant about it, what do you guys think? Smart idea? Crazy idea? Something you could consider doing?

Let me know xx

4 thoughts on “The Genderless Baby

  1. Wow, so much to say about this but I think you have said it post. It’s naiive to think that by not ascribing gender you are offering a blank slate – you’re just establishing a different kind of bias and as you say, confusion. This is sad, I feel for Storm.

    • I think it’s hard enough for little people to learn who they are without having things complicated by parents forcing them to be genderless. As you say, they are not a blank slate just because their parents want them to be.

  2. 2 out of my 3 girls have a genetic condition where they have male chromosomes. Their private areas are completely female, however they have no reproductive systems( uterus & ovaries). We had this worry as well, with what gender they would identify with. But both are growing up healthy and happy. And that’s really what matters at the end of the day.

    • Mich that’s pretty amazing. I bet your girls are just awesome like their mum despite any chromosomal differences they might have.

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