More and more parents are giving their children complete autonomy when it comes to their gender identity.
Last July, news broke that Searyl Atli Doty, an eight-month-old baby received a health card that did not specify the infant’s sex. The first baby ever. In place of the “M” or “F,” what appeared instead was a “U,” which stands for either unspecified or unknown, according to this article on CNN.
This was in accordance with the child’s parent’s wishes.
Kori Doty, Searly’s parent who identifies as non-binary trans, said in a statement,
It is up to Searyl to decide how they identify, when they are old enough to develop their own gender identity. I am not going to foreclose their choices based on an arbitrary assignment of gender at birth based on an inspection of their genitals.”
Doty revealed in an interview with CBC that this decision stemmed from a personal experience while growing up. She said that the gender assignment made on her behalf, which she said was inaccurate, followed her throughout her life.
While Searyl might be the first baby issued a non-gender-specific health card, the infant is far from being the first whose sex was kept hidden by parents.
One example is Storm, who made headlines in 2011 when discovered that the 4 month old’s parents decided to raise it genderless.
Newspaper The Star reported that no one outside of the immediate family, other than a close family friend and the two midwives who helped deliver the baby, knew what genitalia Storm was born with. David Stocker and Kathy Witterick, Storm’s parents, said that this was their way of giving their child the freedom to choose who he/she wants to be. They would not constrain Storm to what society imposes on them by virtue of the genitalia they were born with.
What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children. It’s obnoxious,” said Stocker.
Huffington Post followed up with the family in 2016, five years since the original story broke out. Stocker revealed that Storm has since picked a gender identity, female. He added that no one other than their immediate circle is still privy to the child’s assignment at birth. He also disclosed that Jazz, Storm’s older brother, also identifies as female.
Another relatively recent example is Sasha, who was also raised as gender-neutral by Beck Laxton and Kieran Cooper.
They encouraged Sasha to play with all sorts of toys. Sasha also wore hand-me-downs from her older step-siblings, a girl and a boy.
Sasha’s parents chose to raise her in a gender-neutral manner and keeping Sasha’s sex a secret. They did this for the same as the previously mentioned families. Each family wants their child to have the freedom to determine one’s identity.
Unfortunately, all three families caught a lot of backlash from the public.
Each family was called “selfish” for imposing their political beliefs to their child. Others criticized them for supposedly using their child as the subject of their social experiment.
However, Time Magazine took take on the subject. They noted that there is a clear difference between sex, which refers to the reproductive organs, and gender, which ties to a person’s identity. Time also pointed out that the critical take that the child may become confused is a projection of someone’s own biases and prejudice.
Certainly, the idea of gender-neutral parenting is not widely recognized. Nonetheless, the idea is slowly picking up speed as parents are putting the choice in the hands of their children.
New Companies are emerging, which manufacture products to supporting gender neutral upbringings.
For instance, UK retailer Tootsa produces gender-neutral clothing as a way of promoting their message of letting children be children. Now children can be kids, instead of forcing children into boxes dictated by society. Other parents allow their children to pick what clothes to wear, or toys to play with. So instead of sex choosing for the child, they can develop their own identities.
Experts have yet to agree on whether the concept of gender neutrality would be healthy for children.
Parents cited conflicting responses, with some saying there is a need for children to identify as male or female or run the risk of confusion of his/her own identity, while there are those who praise this move, saying that this will allow the child to develop on his/her own, without any societal restrictions.
Ultimately, whether an offspring is allowed to choose his/her identity, will, somewhat ironically, be up to the decision of the parents.
What do you think? We would love to start a respectful discussion about babies and gender. Is it a choice? Whose choice is it?
ThePinkCrib_RJ is a full-time mommy and a part-time blogger. When she’s not chasing after her kids, she writes down her thoughts on her lifestyle and parenting blog.
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