It was all the talk on the web last week: a Toronto couple’s decision to keep their infant’s sex a secret in order to allow the child to develop his or her own gender identity.
Kathy Witterick and David Stocker’s parenting choices ignited a firestorm of controversy. The couple has been lauded for their decision, they’ve also been widely criticized for imposing their ideology on four-month-old Storm.
Now, the couple is defending their decision in response to the wide array of criticism’s they received after their story went viral.
Here are just a few of the comments in response the blog I wrote on the genderless baby:
Children, including babies are not laboratory mice. It is as if they are doing a social experiment on their children, close family and also their neighborhood…We are born with a defined gender (at least most of us) and it is not our parents right to decide to blur this definition. They are not wise.
This article actually enrages me. My oldest son (who is 5) likes pink, but I will not allow him to wear a dress…he knows dresses are for girls. Both of my boys have dolls, but they love to play dinosaurs and cars too. I take my kids to get their hair cut, make them go to school…I think its a responsibility as a parent. I think these parents letting their children dress in dresses, not go to school, and not cut their hair are not fulfilling their role as parents…its horrible when you let your child do “whatever they want”. What do the parents then do? Whatever happened to discipline?
I love this idea simply because this child, for a while at least, won’t be faced with gender prejudgment and attempts to expect (at best) or force (at worst) him/her into the prescribed gender role. I especially get a kick out of the idea that people will be frustrated that they don’t know whether to give this child the usual societal male privilege or not. How awful the prospect must be of giving it — however unintentionally — to a girl.
In my opinion, this couple has, with the best of intentions, simply exchanged one set of pressures imposed on their children with another. Before the children would have coped with gender biases and now they must deal with another set of biases.. So, what did they gain?
oh PUH-LEASE. Stop using your kids to purport your own self importance. I can’t stand parents who use children as a way to differentiate themselves and their status in society. Experiment on yourself – your “celebrating” gender neutrality is nothing but a self-centered gimmick at a poor child’s expense
I love it! Bravo to the parents willing to give their child every chance to figure out who they are without social pressures (or as little as possible). I had always planned on requesting gender-neutral clothing and toys for our first child, so that we could let them decide who they are, and in a practical sense, use the items again. I love this story and I wish I could hear about more of them!
As the BBC reports, in an e-mail, Kathy Witterick told the Associated Press that the idea that “the whole world must know what is between the baby’s legs is unhealthy, unsafe, and voyeuristic”. She goes on to say that 4-month-old Storm is still learning to recognize him or herself and it would be inappropriate to impose a gender identity on the child. The mother of three says the argument that children need a sex taught to them in order to feel safe in the world does not hold up in their experience.
Witterick said it’s important to challenge traditional thinking. “The discussion that emerges not only “outs” people (in their rush to judge, they demonstrate the prevailing views), but also has the effect of helping people examine whether they truly do believe the status quo to be the best that we can do. Is this the best that we can do to grow healthy, happy, kind, well adjusted children?” Witterick writes.
Witterick, 38, and her husband, David Stocker, 39, are also being criticized for the way they’re raising their two sons, 5-year-old Jazz and 2-year-old Kio. The boys choose their own clothing and hairstyles. Jazz’s favorite color is pink, he has an earring and likes to wear his long hair in braids. The boys are generally assumed to be girls but Witterick says “Jazz has a strong sense of being a boy, and he understands that his choices to wear pink and have long hair are not always acceptable to his community.”
While I appreciate the concept and do believe that society places way too much importance on gender, I think this couple is probably doing more harm than good for their children, although I believe their intentions are good. Mostly, I’m still wondering how neither of those boys – who know Storm’s gender – haven’t spilled the beans. Also, isn’t forcing to little ones to keep a secret so many people want to know putting an awful lot of pressure on a child?