Submitted by Danny Grubb
In the last week or so there has been a Gender discussion raging which we can blame in large part to a rather adorable 4-month old named Storm. The parents, Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, have made a point out of not telling anyone Storm's sex. This is generating much controversy and some unintended headaches for Storm's parents.
Of course it isn't anyone's business what the sex of the child is. Everyone more or less agrees on that. What is being discussed is the "idea" of not telling anyone else the sex of a child.
How Will The World Know How To Treat The Child?
That's one of the more common questions in the comments of articles regarding Storm. The question people should be asking is "How would I treat the child differently if I knew whether or not it was a girl or boy?"
Gender bias is something that happens so automatically for most people that the absence of that one basic input when talking to another person is enough to make people feel like they're speaking to an alien.
The reason for this is because interaction with other individuals is so much easier if we can make certain assumptions about them. In a rather brilliant way, Storm's parents have given Storm a shield from these assumptions.
What Are People REALLY Afraid Of?
What strikes me is that the same groups that are usually at each other's throats when it comes to sexual orientation are at each other's throats again in this instance.
Sexual orientation is not driven by whether or not your parents choose to tell other people a child's sex. Just like painting a boy's toenails doesn't teleport him to the nearest pride parade.
This part of the outrage is funny and depressing at the same time. Funny in the sense that you should always laugh at willfully ignorant people and sad in the fact that invalidating the outrage doesn't change minds.
Rest assured that Storm's parents will impart the knowledge necessary to (1) take care of the parts between Storm's legs properly and (2) what sex Storm is. The things that they will try to not impart are things like dressing the part of a boy or a girl, or how to determine what toys are appropriate for girls or boys. This will empower Storm to make more complete decisions about how to play and interact with others.
Storm's parents want to raise a well-adjusted child with a world view that is more nuanced and larger than the average person's. I say congratulations on taking such a bold step and telling people who disagree with you to buzz off.
These parents aren't under the microscope because they are abusing their children; they are under the microscope because they are parenting differently than most. For a while at least, Storm will have to learn to make decisions about how to dress and act and play without other people's assumptions as a guide.
As Storm learns these things, let's all learn a little about what assumptions we make about boys and girls. Let's all listen a little closer to what we encourage and discourage based on Gender bias in our own children's lives. None of us are immune from things like Gender bias. But if more parents can show the courage to tackle big problems in bold ways such as Storm's parents have, and if the rest of us can learn something about ourselves from their example, then maybe the world will become just a little better one Storm at a time.
You can read Kathy Witterick's response to the Media here: http://www.thestar.com/news/article/998960--genderless-baby-s-mother-responds-to-media-frenzy