Parents Keep Baby's Gender Secret: Would You?

Jacqueline Burt Cote

boys in wigsTo borrow a quote from Lady Gaga, 4-month-old baby "Storm" from Canada was born this way ... we just don't know what way that is, exactly. Storm's parents, Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, made the decision to keep Storm's gender a secret from everyone except the baby's two siblings (both brothers), a close friend, and the midwives who were present for the birth. Sorry, grandma!

That's right, the already "unconventional" parents (Stocker teaches at an alternative school; the couple's sons are unschooled) are not sharing baby Storm's sex with anyone for the time being, "in a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation." Witterick and Stocker think it's "obnoxious" how many choices parents make for their children, and want to shield Storm from society's messages about gender roles for as long as possible -- ideally until Storm is old enough to decide for him/herself what he/she wants to be.

Okay. I'm not judging what Storm's parents are trying to do -- I get it, I really do, I even think it's kind of a cool idea. When my 5-year-old son gets into my eyeshadow and his big sister laughs and says, "Boys don't wear makeup," my standard reply is "That's not true, David Bowie wore makeup." I'm not set on raising a manly man and a girly girl. I agree with the argument that our culture pigeonholes kids before they even know who they are, not just gender politics-wise but in terms of all-around personality. Labels are bad, fight the power!

I am, however, afraid that in an attempt to make Storm's gender a complete non-issue, Witterick and Stocker are going to end up making gender the defining issue of that child's life. If by some chance Storm was going to grow up to be a transgendered person anyway, then this would definitely be good preparation. But assuming Storm is going to identify with whatever sex he/she actually is, then all of this seems like just a well-meaning way of inadvertently giving a kid a complex where there wouldn't have been one in the first place.

Would you keep your baby's gender a secret?


Image via Arkansas ShutterBug/Flickr

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