Couple Raising Their Child as Gender Neutral Refused to Reveal Their Baby's Sex to Family & Friends

gender neutral baby
BBC

A couple in England is coming under fire for raising their baby as gender neutral, and refusing to tell friends and family what the baby's biological sex is. Parents Hobbit Humphrey and Jake England-Johns told The Daily Mail they hoped the decision would prevent people from treating their child differently based on their perceived gender, but some critics are calling it extreme.

  • The parents say they desperately want to protect their baby from facing "unconscious bias."

    Hobbit Humphrey and Jake England-Johns
    BBC

    The couple shared their story on a recent episode of the BBC One show Inside Out, and explained that they've gone to great lengths to keep their baby's life as gender-neutral as possible. So much so, that little Anoush (who's called "Charlie" on the program for privacy reasons), is frequently dressed in both boys and girls' clothing. The parents also use the pronouns they/them to refer to the child, and have yet to reveal the baby's sex to close family and friends. 

    In fact, the child's grandmother, Camille, admitted she had no idea what the baby's sex was until she changed the kiddo's diaper one day -- 11 months after the baby was born. 

    "'It was a struggle," she admitted. "But as with any learning, over time it became embedded and they became 'they.'"

    The couple insists they're not trying to make matters more difficult for the child -- they're only trying to create more awareness, and allow their child to discover their gender identity for themselves.

    "'Gender neutral' refers to us trying to behave neutrally towards the child, rather than trying to make them neutral," dad England-Johns explained. "We're not trying to make them be anything. We just want them to be themselves."

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  • When Anoush is older, England-Johns says, the child will be allowed to decide their own gender and preferred pronouns.

    But for now, the parents aren't making that call for their child.

    According to The Daily Mail, the parents -- who are both circus performers -- said the decision was all part of a conscious plan they agreed to before Anoush was born. 

    "So much of gender bias is unconscious," their mom explained. "When I got pregnant we then were having a discussion about how we were going to mitigate the unconscious bias. And we figured that the only way we could do that was just not to tell people."

    Humphrey added that she and her husband wanted to "create this little bubble for our baby to be who they are" because "eventually they will get told by somebody that pink is only for girls and blue is only for boys, and you can't play with that because you are a particular sex."

    "That's still a thing that happens these days," Humphrey continued. "We're just trying to protect Anoush from that."

  • Of course, not everyone is on board with the couple's decision. In fact, some people find the move to be extreme.

    The couple admits that sometimes dressing their child in both boys' and girls' clothing can elicit "confused looks from old ladies in the park." But the longer they've embraced their decision, the easier it has become to navigate the discomfort of others.

    "We are quite good now at holding space for people's discomfort in us saying, 'Actually, we don't tell anyone, we're not telling anyone for now,'" England-Johns told the BBC. "We're just letting Anoush be a baby."

    Humphrey agreed that at first, it was challenging being not only new parents, but also dealing with people's confusion and criticism over their decision.

    "But in the end it has proven to be a really beautiful thing," she added. "And we've had a lot of important conversations from it."

    So far, the parents have found their method to be pretty successful, too.

    "It has had the effect we wanted, of letting our baby develop its own interests regardless of gender," the mom shared. "So, for example, while they love having a doll's tea party every morning, they also are really fascinated by motorbikes and machinery."

    Most importantly, it seems like Anoush is being raised in a family that respects every individual's sense of self -- which I think we can all agree is a positive thing.

    "Anoush is the most lovely little human," England-Johns boasted to the BBC. "They're into everything, they're really active -- just a delight."

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