Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Genderless Child

     I don't know how many of you have heard about the parents in Toronto, Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, who recently had a beautiful, healthy, and generally normal baby that they named Storm. The name is a little quirky, but that isn't what is truly insane here. The parents have decided not to tell anyone (including the child's grandparents) his/her gender. There is nothing questionable about Storm's gender. He/she was not born a hermaphrodite; Storm's parents have simply chosen not to tell.

See the Yahoo News story here:

     Now don't get me wrong, I've got a little feminist in me and I'm the last person who is going to cram a child into a "gender" roll and tell my son that he can't be a cook because that's women's work, or tell my daughter not to play sports because people might think she's "butch." However, there is a line between allowing your child to have a free spirit and be them self and just not parenting the child. In our society of acceptance and tolerance gender rolls are nearly non-existent; people are free to be themselves and generally suffer very little harassment or ridicule because of it. So why have Witterick and Stocker taken such extreme measures to prevent their children from being gender identified by those around them?

     This couple has two older sons, age 2 and 5, whom they allow to pick their own clothes in stores -often they choose clothing geared toward girls- and to pick whether they will let their hair grow out or keep it short. 

     The parents reportedly came to choose this somewhat radical style of parenting when, during Witterick's pregnancy with Storm, their five year old son Jazz was "having some 'intense' experiences with his gender." Okay, I'm not going to down-play a child's feelings, but how intensely can a five year old actually feel about his own gender? Is it possible that the child was just naturally curious about his body and gender and what that means and his parents, as so many do, over-interpreted his feelings and in this case turned curiosity into a gender crisis?

     In addition, the five year old -who reportedly prefers to wear girl's clothes- has asked his mother to notify others of his gender because it upsets him when he is mistaken for a girl due to his long hair and clothing. I'm all for free spirits, but there is a point at which giving a child too much freedom can do them more harm than good, and sadly, I think Witterick and Stocker may have found it.

     So, tell me, how do you feel about these parents' radial approach to gender identity? Would you ever consider this for your own kids? Maybe a milder form? Comment below!

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