A Canadian couple have caused controversy by declaring that they will bring up their 4 month old baby to be ‘genderless’, and allow the youngster to choose their gender.
The child, named Storm, is the youngest of two other brothers, who are also allowed to dress as they wish. Jazz, who is five, favours pink dresses and hair braids, according to the Toronto Star, while 2 year old Kio has long curly blonde hair. Both boys love bright colors, and are often mistaken for girls.
The couple have decided to go one step further with their latest baby, and refuse to tell anyone whether their baby is a boy or a girl.
In an interview, parents David Stocker and Kathy Witterick defended their actions. “If sex is what is ‘between the legs’ and gender is what is ‘between the ears’, neither is confused for any of our children.”
“What we noticed was that parents make so many decisions for their children. It’s obnoxious.”
The decision has drawn a lot of attention from academics, who although intrigued by the idea, do not believe it will work.
Clinical psychologist Dr Brenda Todd revealed that this experiment has been tried before; in the 1970’s by a feminist academic and her husband, although it only had limited success.
“I think it’s interesting that this family want to do it – maybe we should all try to bring our children up in a genderless way – but I don’t think it’ll have much impact long term. When the child gets older, the influence of the peer group is likely to be much stronger then that of the family, so like it or not, it will become gender aware.”
Dr Todd also referred to research carried out on children aged between 9 and 36 months, which found that stereotypical preferences were evident even then.
Professor Melissa Hines, from the University of Cambridge, had the same opinion.
“It raises all sorts of interesting questions. But, quite simply, we don’t know how it will work. In reality, it’s not going to be possible to do because you’d need to raise a child in isolation and that’s not going to happen. I think it would be very hard to continue once the child becomes older because they will realize there is a difference and it’s importance in society. So it will want to convey it, so it’s unlikely the parents will be able to keep the experiment up.”
Successful or not, the parent’s revelation has drawn interest and controversy in equal measures.