Raising a genderless baby


Kathy Witterick and her husband, David Stocker, are the happy parents of a 4-month-old baby named Storm. But only they, their two older sons, one family friend, and the two midwives who delivered Storm know whether the baby is a boy or a girl. And the parents want to keep it that way for as long as possible. Or as long as Storm and his brothers are comfortable keeping it a secret from the rest of the world.

Because in the Witterick/Stocker household, kids rule. Even when it comes to gender identity.

According to a report in the Toronto Star, Witterick and Stocker sent out an email to friends and family after Storm's birth that read in part: "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? . . .)."

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In another email, Witterick wrote, "In fact, in not telling the gender of my precious baby, I am saying to the world, 'Please can you just let Storm discover for him/herself what s(he) wants to be?!'"

Storm's brothers, 5-year-old Jazz and 2-year-old Kio, have reportedly been choosing their own clothes (from the boys and/or girls sections) since they were 18 months old. One of Jazz's favorite recent purchases was a pink dress that "really poofs out at the bottom." Jazz wears nail polish and a pink stud in one ear. Both boys decide when and whether to have their hair cut. They're both often mistaken for girls, but apparently don't mind.

The parents admit that there are drawbacks to all this. "I regret that [Jazz] has to discuss his gender before people ask him meaningful questions about what he does and sees in this world, but I don't think I am responsible for that-the culture that narrowly defines what he should do, wear and look like is," Witterick told the Star.

So, in fact, the parents have made gender a pretty large issue in their children's lives, but blame society. The outside world is focused on their gender, but not, of course, because the parents have made it so.

Since when is gender a "choice"? Since when is it bad to be identified as a girl or a boy based on one's body parts? I guess since Mommy and Daddy say so. I wonder if the Canadian healthcare system is generous when it comes to gender transformation surgery.

Marcia Segelstein
Marcia Segelstein


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