I came upon a TIME article yesterday that talked about a Canadian couple that wanted to raise their third child (Storm) “genderless.” So what does this mean exactly? The two are keeping the child’s sex secret, and only they, a family friend, and Storm’s two older brothers (Jazz, 5; Kio, 2) are in the know. Why are they doing this? Well, in an email sent out to family and friends immediately after the child’s birth, 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? …).”
While I admire their efforts to combat the restrictions placed on gender–pink for girls, blue for boys; dolls for girls, trucks for boys; baking for girls, sports for boys–I don’t agree that this is the way to go about it. Sure, it does encourage the child to pursue his/her interests without feeling outside pressure of having to conform to one way or another, but at the same time, the child will face so many other difficulties. There are basic ones like, “Which bathroom should (s)he go into in public?” And when the child participates in athletic field days like the one I had at my elementary school, does (s)he count as one of the two boys or girls in the relay? Sure, questions that aren’t that important but ones that are easily overlooked that are so vital, and so important to one’s childhood. The idea of this, allowing a child to not be restricted to being a certain type of person based on his/her gender, is great, and I’ll all for it. I mean, I’m an Asian girl who likes watching sports, sports like basketball and football, and less so baseball, which is the favorite sport in Taiwan. How can I not like this notion? But what the child will face at school from his/her peers, his/her teachers–and what (s)he has already faced from the community–will not be worth it. It will make the child’s life difficult, (s)he will be the brunt of all the jokes, and what the parents wanted to achieve to begin with will all have gone to waste, its effect reversed.
What I propose would be a better idea is to allow the child to do what (s)he likes, pursue what (s)he loves, and though society will still frown down upon things it finds outside of the norm, it will be the better method. It’s a slow process toward achieving universal acceptance–or even increased acceptance–but it’s one that must be taken step-by-step, one that must be taken slowly. The couples’ work is something that is definitely new and definitely the right step toward what we all want to achieve, but that step might just be a little too big, their ambitions and goals a little too far fetched. It’ll be interesting to see how Storm grows up, and maybe–just maybe–I’ll be proved wrong, and (s)he will grow up in a very tolerant and accepting society.