A Canadian couple thrust themselves into the media spotlight last week by announcing that they’re raising their child “genderless”. Their four-month old, whom they named Storm, has a sex known only to the couple, Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, and their immediate family, including 5-year old brother Jazz.
The parents have said that they chose to keep the child’s gender a secret as 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?)”. This, of course, made a lot of people either spit out their coffee in disgust or salute the parents for being so bold. The story of Storm and his/her parents has been featured on Today and The View, and, naturally, set the Internet ablaze with debate.
Really, though, what’s the point of getting bent out of shape over this? This is admittedly a strange situation, yes, but in the long run who cares? If Witterick and Stocker (a married couple who do not have the same last names) want to carry out this little experiment, who’s to say that they’re immoral, cruel parents exhibiting their child to an unfair lab experiment? It’s not like the parents are saying “Well, let’s just see what happens, it’ll be fun!”, since they and their immediate family DO know the gender of the child. This only became a story when OTHER people became involved and took offense. It isn’t really anybody’s business other than the parents, but since they chose to expose their decision to other people, that was the risk they took. Considering the fact that they named their other two children Jazz and Kio, it’s safe to say that Witterick and Stocker do things a bit differently than most families.
With the way they are planning to raise Storm, the parents in this story are very obviously trying to challenge societal gender roles. Gender-related issues are hugely debated in today’s societal climate, and polarize people strongly. Stories like this further the debate, and blog commenters go crazy weighing in and placing judgment anywhere they can. Without any doctors and medically-trained professionals saying “this will have a negative affect on Storm”, though, let’s just leave it alone and let nature take its course, okay?
“El Nino” – Redux
The Calm Before the Storm Storm
In an attempt to be progressive parents, Kathy Witterick and David Stocker have decided not to reveal the gender of their 4-month-old toddler, Storm. They claim that they are “giving the child the freedom to choose what he or she wants to be,” and while this all sounds well and good, freedom is the last thing they’re giving…it.
Supporters (read: feminists) are practically foaming at the mouth to profess how cutting edge this is; how Storm won’t have to pick wardrobes or playthings – to say nothing of adult societal roles – based on its sexual anatomy. What they fail to realize, however, is that either way, the child will be an outcast.
Witterick and Stocker may very well succeed at preventing the world from calling Storm a “he” or a “she,” but society will simply resort to “freak” or “mutant” – if the child can’t identify with either gender, neither gender will accept it. No matter how this child chooses to express itself in the long run, it will be ridiculed.
And that’s what Witterick and Stocker believe they’re fighting for: society shouldn’t ridicule, because gender shouldn’t matter. Girls should be good at fishing. Boys should be good at baking. We get it. But doesn’t hiding a person’s gender make their gender that much more of an issue? If gender doesn’t matter, Storm shouldn’t be forced to keep it a secret. The idea of letting your child decide to wear pink or blue without referencing their genitals is a wonderful idea, but telling them that gender is bad isn’t healthy. Gender is as intrinsic to our personalities as sexual preference and moral values. We shouldn’t be telling kids to hide their genders, we should be teaching them how to take pride in them.
Idealistic as this experiment is, it is still an experiment that may or may not go well, and somehow 50 percent doesn’t seem like good enough odds to base a child’s life on. This is not about brave hippie parents standing up to social stereotypes; this is not about thwarting the stigma of genders; this is not about society at all – this is about Storm, and everyone seems to be forgetting that. Storm’s gender will be a single facet of Storm’s complex personality, but it’s the only part anyone will ever focus on because of this. Heavy is the head that wears the androgynous crown.