In May, a Toronto couple made international news when they revealed what they’re not revealing: the gender of their baby, Storm.
Parents Kathy Witterick and David Stocker claim they want their baby to grow up free of the constraints gender identification implies.
That way, despite the fact that the child is anatomically well-defined, Storm can decide his or her gender when he or she is old enough to make up his or her mind about what he or she wants to be.
Suffice it to say, Storm’s parents have created a pronoun problem, but that’s likely to be the least of their child’s long-term issues.
In news stories, the couple defended their decision to withhold the gender of their child, saying the idea that “the whole world must know what is between the baby’s legs is unhealthy, unsafe and voyeuristic. We know - and we’re keeping it clean, safe, healthy and private (not secret!).”
That’s an accusation that might say more about the parents than the folks who are curious about the child’s gender. Is it creepy to want to know a baby’s gender, or is it creepy that you think people want to know because they’re thinking about your child’s genitalia and not his personhood? (Sorry. His or her.)
Medical and psychological professionals who commented on the story noted that the parents’ political motives likely would have serious consequences for the child’s mental and emotional health.
They may think it’s kitschy and cool to keep their child’s gender private, but Storm may think otherwise when he or she faces an identity crisis that consumes his or her emotional energy.
It would be easy to write off Storm’s parents as oddballs with extreme progressive notions about parenting, but the fact is that their views about gender identity are increasingly evident across Western cultures.
Last week brought news from Stockholm of a preschool called Egalia where students are known as “friends” and not by gender-specific pronouns such as him and her.
Egalia reflects a core mission of Sweden’s national education curriculum: breaking down gender barriers and promoting equality of the sexes. Practically, this means schools hire “gender pedagogues” to ferret out sex-based biases in toys, games, books and lesson plans so gender stereotypes can be banished from the educational experiences of preschoolers.