While plenty of couples choose not to find out the sex of their baby-to-be during pregnancy, there aren’t many who choose to keep mum about it following the birth. On the heels of the “princess boy” hullabaloo and uproar over a J.Crew ad featuring a boy wearing pink nail polish, writer Jayme Poisson from the Toronto Star recently profiled a family who is doing just that.
Kathy Witterick and husband David Stocker are parents to two sons, Jazz, 5, and Kio, 2, as well as a third child, Storm, a 4-month-old baby whom the couple is raising to be genderless. According to the article, the only people who know whether the two boys have another brother or a sister are Witterick and Stocker, Storm’s brothers, a close family friend and the two midwives who helped deliver Storm at the family’s Toronto home. Not even the couple’s parents know the sex of little Storm.
When the couple announced Storm’s birth to friends and family, they wrote: “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? ...).” Adds Stocker, “If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs.”
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Although Storm is the first of their children whose gender is being kept a secret, the couple’s older children, who are home-schooler, are encouraged to choose their own clothes from the girls and boys sections of stores and decide whether or not to cut their hair (older son Jazz likes to wear his in 3 long braids). Because of the boys’ love of pink and purple, long hair, and occasional dress-wearing, the brothers are often assumed to be girls. Their parents leave it up to the kids whether or not they want to correct others’ assumptions. They explain that they want their children to be free to choose who they want to be and not feel constrained by gender norms.
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Reader reaction to the Star article has been fast and fierce. One reader wrote, “Never has an article left me so upset. These parents are turning their children into a bizarre lab experiment,” while another replied, “The choices of Kathy and David so similarly match who I hope to be as a parent. They addressed many of the societal challenges I face everyday.”
Do you think it’s desirable—or even possible—to raise kids without a gender?