Thought Catalog

Couple Aims to Raise Genderless Child by Keeping its Sex Secret

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Toronto couple Kathy Witterick and David Stoker are raising their latest child, Storm, to be gender free. That is – they just aren’t telling anyone (family, neighbors, friends) what’s between Storm’s little legs. Parentalcentral.ca gives us the couple’s logic:

When Storm was born, the couple sent an email to friends and family: “We’ve decided not to share Storm’s sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s lifetime (a more progressive place? …)”…

Witterick and Stocker believe they are giving their children the freedom to choose who they want to be, unconstrained by social norms about males and females…

In an age where helicopter parents hover nervously over their kids micromanaging their lives, and tiger moms ferociously push their progeny to get into Harvard, Stocker, 39, and Witterick, 38, believe kids can make meaningful decisions for themselves from a very early age.

“What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children. It’s obnoxious,” says Stocker.

By everyday standards, these parents are pretty radical on the whole spectrum of child-rearing styles. Some of their friends and family have protested against their decision to keep Storm’s sex to themselves on the basis that it’s a set-up for a childhood of bullying and ridicule.

The couple’s plan does appear just a little hard to stick to, if only because it seems logistically difficult to keep such a ‘secret’ – even being up to the child, I imagine the decision is most likely going to be demanded of its parents as it enters the social world of children and, for example, enjoys the basic benefits of modern society – doctor’s visits, public schooling, etc.

Regardless, the couple’s idea seems pretty great and innovative, if only to raise awareness of a notion we so take for granted – a notion that continues to be the source of relatively widespread injustice and oppression. Kids are thrown into this system from the moment they’re born, bombarded with their gender identities even before they leave the hospital. On that note, Witterick commented wisely, “We thought that if we delayed sharing that information, in this case hopefully, we might knock off a couple million of those messages by the time that Storm decides Storm would like to share.”

Now who wants to bet on how long it’ll take the psychos with the “God Hates Fags” signs to show up at the kid’s house? TC mark

image – Paradox

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    • Angel

      I think this sounds like an awesome idea.

    • EmiliaBedelia

      A similar couple did this a few years ago. I want to say in Sweden and I want to say their child's name was Pop. I think not disclosing your child's gender is a decision that continues to inflict a whole series of 'choices' (to use Stocker's word) onto the kid, regardless of how liberal minded and progressive the parents think they're being. I honestly think things like this constrain more than they liberate. This is the kind of shit that happens when people mis-read Judith Butler.

    • erin pea

      oh toronto.

      • Dan

        EXACTLY what I said to myself.

    • paulie

      BUT! For this to be successful you've gotta rob the little kid of the liberty to run around naked in public.

    • valentine_kitchenson

      “What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children. It’s obnoxious,”
      Is this not one of the biggest decisions you can make for your child? I mean, it's not a terrible idea, but it does stray from the norm. You're essentially choosing for your child to characteristically stick out like a sore thumb. They're not letting their child's true gender be personified. It's like “Oh, you're a girl but we don't want you to embrace your feminine side,” or “Oh, you're a boy, well you're never going to be very masculine.”
      That statement just seems to be a bit contradictory.

      • A.G.

        i agree that it's a decision in itself to let a child make the decision, but i think the point is that no one actually has a “true gender” as you say. A person's gender is socially constructed, maybe you mean sex? Even then though, science is influenced by society and so a person's sex can also be socially constructed to a point.

    • Something

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    • http://www.noahtourjee.com Noah Tourjee

      K heres the problem. You can't use a human life to raise awareness for a cause. Believe me – this is the next step for Humanity, if we want to live up to our potential – by ridding ourselves of the detrimental socially constructed ideas about gender. Unfortunately, this is putting the cart before the horse. You can't jump start this change. You're throwing a child into a world that will violently oppose its upbringing. I'm not saying raise your white flag and give your baby boy a football, but this is a foolish extreme. Those parents want to let their kid make meaningful decision for them self – awesome! But calling your kid storm and telling it to pick a gender before tossing it into the fire of life could seriously fuck it up. In an ideal world, we would all understand that sex and gender are two different things – and this wouldn't be an issue. But who knows, maybe I'm wrong? Maybe it takes “crazy” things like this to jump start a revolution. If that happens, I'll be the first to  come back here and edit this comment to say something completely different.

      • Dwyane wade

        yeah this is right on. this is not going to “jump start a revolution” by any means, this is a non-issue that's going to be completely swallowed up and the only victim will be the kid itself.

      • Brown

        The kid isn't going to be genderless forever. They're not telling him/her to pick a gender. They're obvz not hiding the gender from the kid either, because the kid will see her vagina or his peen. Storm is only 4 months old at the moment. I don't think there's a logical reason for a child to have a normalized gender until they enter some kind of normalized institution, like kindergarten. Once Storm goes to kindergarten he/she can announce “I'm a whole lotta woman/man!” But at least until then Storm will be protected from a lot of unnecessary, potentially harmful messages about his/her identity that usually we enforce on children. This isn't going to jump start social change, but it might allow the child to form an identity that isn't based on arbitrary, possibly inaccurate ideas about gender. 

      • Luis Alvarez

        “Detrimental socially constructed ideas about gender”? Sorry, but this idea that gender is a social construct is completely wrong. In everyday English, not the English of left-wing academics, gender and sex are interchangeable.  There are sexual customs that are not biological, obviously, but the misuse of “gender” as a social category is a political move. The word becomes politicized. Gender is treated as something that is foisted on people when in fact it is a natural instinct of men and women to differentiate themselves socially. The social is an outgrowth of the biological, and as long as our biology remains as it is, men and women will choose to express themselves in different ways socially. The men who want to act like women and vice versa will always be a small minority outside the norm.

    • Charles

      My only objection is to the name “Storm”.

      • http://www.noahtourjee.com Noah Tourjee

        Recently seen bleaching hair white and flooding NYC for a week with endless rain.

    • Pamela N Red

      I guarantee if he's a boy it will come out very soon. I raised two and they are quite proud of their parts and reveal them at an early age.

    • guest

      EMILIABEDELIA is correct, this has happened before: http://www.thelocal.se/20232/2

    • adam

      This kid is going to cause a shitstorm.

    • http://typicalnut.blogspot.com Bema

      It will be hard to keep his gender a secret when he starts growing a beard.

      Or someone kicks him in the nuts.

      • ashleywr

        Except sexual organs don't determine gender (per se). And beards can be stopped.

        • http://typicalnut.blogspot.com Bema

          Sexual organs don't determine gender, if you were raised in isolation.
          However, once people know your sex they will inadvertently socialize you to
          its corresponding gender.

          How exactly do you a stop a beard? That would be useful to know in case I'm ever mugged by one.

        • ashleywr

          Right, I'm just saying that even if people know your sex you can still live as the opposite gender. 

          And you stop a beard from growing with hormones. :P

    • Tinkikiwi

      Something I'd do if I ever had children. For me it's not a social cause or awareness or anything. I believe that gender is elevated in importance to the point of being utterly ridiculous.

    • KatM

      Idiot parents. When the kid decides to play doctor with the other neighborhood kids, someone will figure out the gender, duh.

      I hope they have enough money for a sex change operation if it changes its mind of its original gender. Or psychotherapy. Or both. Whatever.

      I got a chuckle out of this. Ha. Stupidest thing I have ever read today.

      • ashleywr

        Or, Storm won't need psychotherapy because he/she won't have lived a life of the wrong gender, Storm will just be the right gender when Storm chooses. And Storm can always pay for the operation, it's not exactly mandatory.

    • ooIIIoo

      My parents did this, now I am a flamey female gay boy & no one understands me ;(

    • shoehorn

      children who stick out in ways which are not “good looking” get treated like shit by their peers and grow up unable to trust or truly connect with other human beings. i'm sure these people are well-intentioned and not heartless, but this is not a good idea at all.

    • http://goldenday.tumblr.com Kia Etienne

      not to be funny, but which bathroom does the child use when they are out and about?

      • guest

        lots of little boys use the women's bathroom when their mom takes them (ditto with little girls and their dads). maybe the kid will just go to whichever bathroom his/her parent takes him/her into, for a while.

        what i'm wondering is how anyone is ever going to talk about him/her? it isn't conducive to speech to say 'his/her' all the time– what pronoun are they going to use?

        • Cirilosg

          it.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NIXN3DJWBJE5IYL7HRPASNRVJ4 123456789

      Storm is a girl from the X-men. If they wanted the child to be genderless they should have chosen a name that doesn't associate with a specific gender

    • Waicool

      this social experiment is so wrong on so many different levels.  Wouldn't this couple be more effective developing a genetically engineered “sexless” child to accomplish their revolutionary goal.  Maybe they could adjust their experiment to produce only blue eyed blonde haired kids.  Oh wait, I think someone tried that already.

      • Reallyyyydude

        you are so dumb.

      • ashleywr

        They're giving their child the choice, and not forcing it upon them.

    • Reallyyyydude

      Whatever a person has between their legs doesn't define their gender. Your opener sucked.

    • Button_on_a_calculator

      WHY THE FUCK

    • alexrax

      Social statement, future of humanity, challenging the norms, cool.

      But this is a fucking kid. A kid who's purpose in life is not to live out some self-righteous fantasy about an “ideal world”. A kid who wasn't created so that its parents could feel superior to all their friends and neighbours. Kids should not be used for experiments, and especially not to gain international media attention.

      This honestly makes me kind of sick.

      • Guest

        All these ulterior motives you have assumed the parents have are straight up bullshit, baby. Pick a logical reason for disagreeing with this.

    • angelikap

      I'm not against the sentiment per se, as the way our culture views sexuality and gender is totally messed up, but my parents (this is obvs. completely anecdotal) apparently knew a couple who raised their 2 children to be gender neutral and they ended up completely messed up, and one of them committed suicide. I know I know correlation/ causation but the I don't think the point is that it's definitely wrong to bring your kids up in this way, but within our current societal construct, you could be creating one very confused and badly adjusted child.

      I think a more reasonable solution would be to tell your child of either sex they can be whoever and whatever they want from a young age, don't assume because you have a little girl she wants to play with dolls, boys want to play trucks etc, and ask your family not to shower them with colour co-ordinated clothing and products which will make them a sucker for gender-targeted marketing as they get older.

    • Diff

      I must confess that when I first saw the child's name, my thoughts turned to Tim Minchin's beat poem.



      If anyone's interested.

    • Uhnonnymus

      Storm is totally a girl's name.

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