Raising a “gender-free” child

“Boy or girl? It’s a secret — and an international controversy,” Video courtesy of HLN, CNN.com, 2011

Toronto couple Kathy Witterick and David Stocker have attracted attention for their decision to raise their child, Storm, without sex or gender. Giving Storm “the freedom to choose who he or she is wants to be” has incited fierce debate. The couple has been praised for their brazen defiance of a “culture that’s obsessed with gender” and labels – as well as criticized for allegedly making gender “a bigger deal than it necessarily needs to be” and implying that “gender is wrong” and therefore must be hidden. Critics also point out that the child will bear the brunt of any negative repercussions, such as bullying, name-calling, or social exclusion.

At the time of media exposure, Storm was four months old – too young to actually have a say in how he/she is being raised. The preference of incorporating or excluding gender-specific material in child rearing is therefore not that of Storm’s but of his/her parents. In addition, if or when Storm is able to act on his/her own accord, dressing in traditional gendered clothing could be seen as an act of yielding to oppressive societal standards, and not doing so could lead to ostracism.

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