Gender-free upbringing

is what a Canadian couple, David Stocker & Kathy Witterick, is attempting to do with their 4-month old child which they have called Storm.

They decided not to reveal the sex of the child, even to grandparents, as a “tribute to freedom and choice…a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s life-time”

This, as you can imagine, created a storm in a teacup and people then started questioning how they brought up their two other children 5-year old Jazz and two-year old Kio.

They are boys by the way but you wouldn’t know from looking at them as they wear their hair long and the older boy wears pink dresses, nail varnish and sparkly ear studs. Most people assume they are girls and the parents don’t correct that assumption.

The parents believe they are giving their children the freedom to choose who they want to be unconstrained by social norms about gender. Critics say they are imposing their own ideology on their children and setting them up to be bullied.

Well they won’t be bullied at school because they won’t be going. The parents practise unschooling which is based on the idea that learning should be driven by a child’s curiosity so the kids decide what they want to do each day. It seems that the older boy doesn’t want to go to school because people ask about his gender, choice of clothes or hairstyle. The parents deny they are responsible for that and blame the way things are.

I posted on this topic last December about liberal UK parents who home-schooled and wanted to bring up their androgynously-named and ambiguous looking children without gender stereotypes and wondered if it was just a social engineering experiment.

This one certainly is and there are psychologists such as California-based (where else you might ask?) Diane Ehrensaft who wrote a guide for parents of nonconforming children including “girlyboys”. She calls such children gender creative which includes transgendered and gender hybrids but believes gender is innate. Even she worries that Storm’s parents are denying their child a way to position itself on a male-female continuum.

In Toronto, where this family live, Dr Ken Zucker is head of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and head of the gender identity service. He calls it a “social experiment of nature” and says that even making no choice is a choice and only time will tell how it affects the child.

PS Is Canada particularly politically correct? I ask because when I was on a summer school abroad a while back one of the delegates who was Canadian told a couple of us off when we referred to the waitress and said we should have said “server” – which sounds like a thing for dishing out salad.


One thought on “Gender-free upbringing

  1. […] I can go along with some of that, for example women do seem to be more self-critical in managerial roles and suffer “imposter syndrome” more than men but having girls play with boys’ toys seems a bit too PC these days even though there are some parents attempting to bring up their children “gender-free“. […]

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