Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gender

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Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gender

Postby Роберт » Tue May 24, 2011 9:36 pm UTC

Interesting blog piece about one family's choice:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookou ... nder-wraps
Spoiler:
Parents keep child’s gender under wraps
By Zachary Roth

When many couples have a baby, they send out an email to family and friends that fills them in on the key details: name, gender, birth weight, that sort of thing. (You know the drill: "Both Mom and little Ethan are doing great!")
But the email sent recently by Kathy Witterick and David Stocker of Toronto, Canada to announce the birth of their baby, Storm, was missing one important piece of information. "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? ...)," it said.
That's right. They're not saying whether Storm is a boy or a girl.
There's nothing ambiguous about the baby's genitals. But as Stocker puts it: "If you really want to get to know someone, you don't ask what's between their legs." So only the parents, their two other children (both boys), a close friend, and the two midwives who helped deliver the now 4-month-old baby know its gender. Even the grandparents have been left in the dark.
Stocker and Witterick say the decision gives Storm the freedom to choose who he or she wants to be. "What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children. It's obnoxious," adds Stocker, a teacher at an alternative school.
They say that kids receive messages from society that encourage them to fit into existing boxes, including with regard to gender. "We thought that if we delayed sharing that information, in this case hopefully, we might knock off a couple million of those messages by the time that Storm decides Storm would like to share," says Witterick.
"In fact, in not telling the gender of my precious baby, I am saying to the world, 'Please can you just let Storm discover for him/herself what s (he) wants to be?!." she wrote in an email.
How did Stocker and Witterick decide to keep Storm's gender under wraps? During Witterick's pregnancy, her son Jazz was having "intense" experiences with his own gender. "I was feeling like I needed some good parenting skills to support him through that," Witterick said.
Stocker came across a book from 1978, titled X: A Fabulous Child's Story by Lois Gould. X is raised as neither a boy or girl, and grows up to be a happy and well-adjusted child.
"It became so compelling it was almost like, How could we not?" Witterick said.
The couple's other two children, Jazz and Kio, haven't escaped their parents' unconventional approach to parenting. Though they're only 5 and 2, they're allowed to pick out their own clothes in the boys and girls sections of stores and decide whether to cut their hair or let it grow.
Both boys are "unschooled," a version of homeschooling, which promotes putting a child's curiosity at the center of his or her education. As Witterick puts it, it's "not something that happens by rote from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays in a building with a group of same-age people, planned, implemented and assessed by someone else."
Because Jazz and Kio wear pink and have long hair, they're frequently assumed to be girls, according to Stocker. He said he and Witterick don't correct people--they leave it to the kids to do it if they want to.
But Stocker and Witterick's choices haven't always made life easy for their kids. Though Jazz likes dressing as a girl, he doesn't seem to want to be mistaken for one. He recently asked his mother to let the leaders of a nature center know that he's a boy. And he chose not to attend a conventional school because of the questions about his gender. Asked whether that upsets him, Jazz nodded.
As for his mother, she's not giving up the crusade against the tyranny of assigned gender roles. "Everyone keeps asking us, 'When will this end?'" she said. "And we always turn the question back. Yeah, when will this end? When will we live in a world where people can make choices to be whoever they are?"
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby greengiant » Tue May 24, 2011 9:45 pm UTC

Reminds me of the Swedish couple who kept their child, Pop's gender a secret. Their fate should make for interesting reading.

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Роберт » Tue May 24, 2011 9:50 pm UTC

Yeah, they certainly aren't the only family to do something similar. I'm fine with similar articles being grouped here. I might have missed a thread that I should have just added this to.

This would really make sense for intersex individuals, rather than just removing their uterus without consent or whatever it is.
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Wodashin » Tue May 24, 2011 9:53 pm UTC

This just seems like parody. It starts sort of out there, but whatever, but as it progresses the parents just get zanier and zanier. I disagree with what they're doing. It seems harmful. I agree that we shouldn't box people in, but it's obvious that it has been detrimental to their son Jazz, and probably will be more so for Storm. There's a difference between having a grown adult know that they are one gender, and letting an infant choose their gender.

I really don't see this ending all too well. Idk. This just seems different than most issues concerning gender. This is changing the child's foundation. Well-adjusted, serial-killer, I don't know how this will turn out.

:?

E: Yeah, it would make sense for intersex children and allow them go in the direction that would be most fitting, but this is probably not that.

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby natraj » Tue May 24, 2011 9:57 pm UTC

How is it harmful to let a child choose how they want to express themselves? And I don't think it is any more "obvious" that it is detrimental to their other kid than any other child who doesn't 100% conform to societal norms, but that doesn't mean we should teach all children that they should always just do everything everyone else does all the time. I mean, if I had a kid who was gay, other kids might think that was weird, too, and that might be "detrimental" since they wouldn't always fit in, but I wouldn't tell them to repress that either.
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Роберт » Tue May 24, 2011 9:58 pm UTC

Wodashin wrote:E: Yeah, it would make sense for intersex children and allow them go in the direction that would be most fitting, but this is probably not that.

If people only did this with intersex children, people would be able to assume that a child is intersex when people did this, which would probably bad because of the current stigma there is in being intersex.
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Wodashin » Tue May 24, 2011 10:04 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:
Wodashin wrote:E: Yeah, it would make sense for intersex children and allow them go in the direction that would be most fitting, but this is probably not that.

If people only did this with intersex children, people would be able to assume that a child is intersex when people did this, which would probably bad because of the current stigma there is in being intersex.


Is there really a stigma for intersex babies?

@natraj: Children don't make the best decisions is all I'm saying. Jazz seems to be upset over his struggle with his identity, at least from the article. Having a gender at a young age is probably important. Having a gay toddler probably won't affect his social standing as a toddler. Most toddlers don't even understand sexual identity and orientation from what I understand.

It's different, but I've pretty much grown up race-less since I'm just so mixed. It's been a psychological pain to not 'be' any particular race. I'd imagine gender would be far harsher.

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Dauric » Tue May 24, 2011 10:12 pm UTC

I'm not all that concerned with the gender issue. I do think there's something to be said for separating "Male/Female" from "Masculine/Feminine"* but that's a-whole-nother issue.

*Male/Female being which physical bits one has, and the associated care and hygiene instructions that go along with them.

The part I'd be most concerned about is their education:

Both boys are "unschooled," a version of homeschooling, which promotes putting a child's curiosity at the center of his or her education. As Witterick puts it, it's "not something that happens by rote from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays in a building with a group of same-age people, planned, implemented and assessed by someone else."


Obviously if they're going to focus on gender independence they're not going to be able to pursue 'traditional' education, the socialization being heteronormative in most/every public school, but are the parents trading their children's future for a social/political statement now?

Is there any good data about adult life for children educated this way? Job opportunities, college admissions, etc. etc.?
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby podbaydoor » Tue May 24, 2011 10:16 pm UTC

I grew up "raceless" (half the time I have to be reminded that I look Asian only when people react oddly in some way, because I don't "feel" Asian) and haven't experienced any particular pain or struggle in that respect. These parents' approaches may not be perfect, but I wouldn't call the principle of the thing a "parody."
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Box Boy » Tue May 24, 2011 10:19 pm UTC

natraj wrote:And I don't think it is any more "obvious" that it is detrimental to their other kid than any other child who doesn't 100% conform to societal norms, but that doesn't mean we should teach all children that they should always just do everything everyone else does all the time.
This isn't really a matter of making the kid conform to societal norms, though.

Since people who associate with a gender 'different' to their biological sex are a rather small percentage of the population (I don't have the exact figures), it's safe to assume that raising a kid while letting them know they're a boy/girl and only changing how you treat them if they start to strongly associate with the opposite/none is usually the best option, since raising a girl who will identify as female later in life as if she was neutral could have negative affects on them that we aren't aware of yet, and I'm against any experiments to find out on the off chance it severely screws up one of the people involved.

Although, I'm all for getting rid of as many gender roles and stereotypes/inequalities as possible, and if they're intersex then I'm not really certain how the situation should be handled beyond keeping both their genitals until they're old enough to decide who and what they want to be.
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Роберт » Tue May 24, 2011 10:23 pm UTC

Box Boy wrote:Since people who associate with a gender 'different' to their biological sex are a rather small percentage of the population (I don't have the exact figures), it's safe to assume that raising a kid while letting them know they're a boy/girl and only changing how you treat them if they start to strongly associate with the opposite/none is usually the best option, since raising a girl who will identify as female later in life as if she was neutral could have negative affects on them that we aren't aware of yet, and I'm against any experiments to find out on the off chance it severely screws up one of the people involved.

Well, don't do that for your kids. I'm not doing it for mine. But I'm not sure that we should never do something different from the societal norms, which you seem to be implying.
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Box Boy » Tue May 24, 2011 10:34 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:Well, don't do that for your kids. I'm not doing it for mine. But I'm not sure that we should never do something different from the societal norms, which you seem to be implying.
Box Boy wrote:This isn't really a matter of making the kid conform to societal norms, though.

Although raising your kids according to their biological gender IS a norm for most modern societies, that doesn't mean we shouldn't follow it to a certain degree, especially since it produces far more well adjusted people content with their gender identity than it does people who aren't*, and I already stated I want to get rid of a lot of norms here:
Box Boy wrote:Although, I'm all for getting rid of as many gender roles and stereotypes/inequalities as possible, and if they're intersex then I'm not really certain how the situation should be handled beyond keeping both their genitals until they're old enough to decide who and what they want to be.
....so I don't really get how you thought I was implying we should always follow them?


* and I'd argue that a large number of people who aren't mainly feel that way due to the way society treats them and the LGBT community, which is more a problem of raising bigots and encouraging it than how you treat a child's gender (although I'm sure there's a large number affected poorly/horrendously by being raised according to their biological sex rather than their gender)
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Роберт » Tue May 24, 2011 10:53 pm UTC

Sorry, the only point I was addressing was the bolded part. That you don't think you should "experiment" because it might "mess the kid up". I think we are mostly in agreement, but if we were talking about vaccinations, schooling, language learning, etc., you could say "don't do anything weird because what if it messes the kid up?" and the point would be basically the same as your point about gender.
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Wodashin » Tue May 24, 2011 11:37 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:I grew up "raceless" (half the time I have to be reminded that I look Asian only when people react oddly in some way, because I don't "feel" Asian) and haven't experienced any particular pain or struggle in that respect. These parents' approaches may not be perfect, but I wouldn't call the principle of the thing a "parody."


I never said that the basis of what they're doing is comical or parody, but their statements as everything went on. It seemed like it turned from gender statements to social hipsterism.

I didn't really say what I meant correctly. It's not like I'm anguishing over race, but I can tell that not looking or feeling like any particular race has hindered me a little in the socializing aspect, since people tend to identify with people of the same race and whatnot.

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Tue May 24, 2011 11:38 pm UTC

It isn't harmful to the child, unless the other parents want to make it harmful--eg, "don't even go near Storm, their parents are 'x' blah blah..."; "my child will not attend the same school as storm"...basically only the kind of bullshit adults can make up (and feed to their kids).

What I do find harmful is that the parents subscribe to the Sarah Palin School of Child-Naming. GAH!

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Box Boy » Tue May 24, 2011 11:47 pm UTC

Sheikh al-Majaneen wrote:It isn't harmful to the child,

The problem is, there's no evidence indicating this to be true, and if you take
Sheikh al-Majaneen wrote:unless the other parents want to make it harmful
to be true then attempting this before we manage to make people more accepting of the LGBT community and 'alternative' lifestyles, then it'll cause problems.
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Wodashin » Tue May 24, 2011 11:57 pm UTC

Sheikh al-Majaneen wrote:It isn't harmful to the child, unless the other parents want to make it harmful--eg, "don't even go near Storm, their parents are 'x' blah blah..."; "my child will not attend the same school as storm"...basically only the kind of bullshit adults can make up (and feed to their kids).

What I do find harmful is that the parents subscribe to the Sarah Palin School of Child-Naming. GAH!


It's funny how hypocritical this is.

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Wed May 25, 2011 12:00 am UTC

Wodashin wrote:
Sheikh al-Majaneen wrote:It isn't harmful to the child, unless the other parents want to make it harmful--eg, "don't even go near Storm, their parents are 'x' blah blah..."; "my child will not attend the same school as storm"...basically only the kind of bullshit adults can make up (and feed to their kids).

What I do find harmful is that the parents subscribe to the Sarah Palin School of Child-Naming. GAH!


It's funny how hypocritical this is.

What? If my parents named me Storm, I would probably go by my middle name, unless it was worse.

If you mean the other part, the onus on the harmfulness is the reactions of other people. By which I mean, its judgmental bigots who are causing harm.
Last edited by Sheikh al-Majaneen on Wed May 25, 2011 12:01 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Aaeriele » Wed May 25, 2011 12:00 am UTC

Box Boy wrote:Although raising your kids according to their biological gender IS a norm for most modern societies, that doesn't mean we shouldn't follow it to a certain degree, especially since it produces far more well adjusted people content with their gender identity than it does people who aren't*

It's a fallacy to assume that simply because the norm produces a decent proportion of well-adjusted people, that not following the norm would produce any less well-adjusted people.
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Wodashin » Wed May 25, 2011 12:21 am UTC

It's also a bit odd to go against the norm to make a political statement at the cost of your child's childhood. Well, maybe the cost. Who knows. It could turn out that it doesn't matter all too much.

@Sheikh: What I'm getting at is how you think it's perfectly acceptable to do social experiments on your children because you read a book about it and thought it was cool, but naming your kid something 'weird' is just TERRIBLE. GAH! Storm isn't even that weird of a name. There are two Storms in my school. Seriously, they can do this with genders but not with names? They could name their kid Gorilladick II of Toronto. It shouldn't matter if gender doesn't matter on the basis that they should be free.

Or how about just not naming them? Yeah, naming the kid was a bad choice on their part. The kid should be able to pick his/her name.

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Enuja » Wed May 25, 2011 12:32 am UTC

Box Boy wrote:I'm against any experiments to find out on the off chance it severely screws up one of the people involved.
Wodashin wrote:It's also a bit odd to go against the norm to make a political statement at the cost of your child's childhood.
Parents affect their children. They can't choose to not do it. We already know that extant gender roles severely screw up everyone growing up in our society. It's a "normal" screwed up, of course, because it happens to all of us, but assumptions and expectations do awful things to all of us every day, whether we are gender conforming or not. If you aren't willing to allow any parents or societies to "experiment" with different ways of doing things (although Box Boy does think people should decrease the importance of gender roles, so I don't know where the line of what is "acceptable" experimentation falls for each of you), be aware that you are simply experimenting with society as a whole without a control group. The way we raise children matters. If we just stick with what we've been doing out of fear of fucking things up, we'll just keep fucking them up the way we've been fucking them up.

Edited to correct an effect/affect error.
Last edited by Enuja on Thu May 26, 2011 5:44 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Wodashin » Wed May 25, 2011 12:59 am UTC

Nonconformity for the sake of nonconformity has never appealed to me. We've had defined genders for thousands of years, before we could even grasp the concept of conformity and social experimentation. It's not like one guy decided to fuck everyone in the future. Things that are so fundamental seem like they'd be more genetically ingrained than anything else. I won't pretend to know though, but that's what I think common sense would dictate.

I'm not saying we shouldn't allow kids to be different, I'm just saying that we should allow them to be different, not force them to be different.

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Hawknc » Wed May 25, 2011 1:04 am UTC

Wodashin wrote:I'm not saying we shouldn't allow kids to be different, I'm just saying that we should allow them to be different, not force them to be different.

Kind of seems like that's exactly what these parents are doing. The kid can decide whether it feels like its gender lines up with what is traditionally associated with its crotchbits, or it can decide otherwise. They're not forcing them to be...anything, at all, really.

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Wodashin » Wed May 25, 2011 1:10 am UTC

Which is sort of forcing them to come to grips with their identity and choose a sexuality when they're a toddler. I really find it hard to wrap my head around the implications of this, but I feel like this will affect the child. Nature vs. nurture I guess. I feel like, by having them grow up like this, they are changing the outcome. It may have been something else, but now it's whatever it will be. That doesn't necessarily mean they choose though. I'm not sure how you could say they are 'choosing', which I guess they'd be doing, but they'd be doing it with the mind of a toddler or barely older and a (perhaps) faulty education. Well, probably faulty education. Aiming it at what the child wants to learn is a sort of terrible way to go about raising a kid, mainly because they haven't learned anything and therefore can't choose a path to learn about because they don't know anything about anything. Reading is a social construct, national language too. Who's to say they have to teach them that? The whole thing just extrapolates into weird places, places they seem to want to go.

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby big boss » Wed May 25, 2011 1:17 am UTC

Hawknc wrote:
Wodashin wrote:I'm not saying we shouldn't allow kids to be different, I'm just saying that we should allow them to be different, not force them to be different.

Kind of seems like that's exactly what these parents are doing. The kid can decide whether it feels like its gender lines up with what is traditionally associated with its crotchbits, or it can decide otherwise. They're not forcing them to be...anything, at all, really.


Except for the minor fact that a toddler doesn't have the mental capacity to choose for themselves... Hell many people much older and wiser than a toddler can't even figure it out. Gender is ingrained in us genetically and pretending like we are blank slates is not going to help anyone because we simply are not blank slates (at least the majority of humanity is not).
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Hawknc » Wed May 25, 2011 1:19 am UTC

Whoa whoa whoa, sexuality? Where are you getting that from? Don't conflate gender identity with sexual identity, they're two different things - in all probability, this child will grow up to be attracted to $gender regardless of whether they're that gender or not. I think it's also slightly inaccurate to say that the child is "choosing" their gender - more like they're not forced to "feel" like a boy when they actually feel like a girl, for example. They can simply be what they feel they are. Beyond that, all I'm getting from your post is "I don't like this, but I don't have any reason beyond my own prejudices about it".

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby TaintedDeity » Wed May 25, 2011 1:23 am UTC

Fucking hell, these parents aren't raising the kid to be gender neutral. They're raising the kid to be what it wants. (What it wants can and will change so there's no worry about toddlers being stupid and not knowing what they want.)
All they're doing is giving the child freedom to play and explore its identity. They're not stopping the child from doing anything, they're just refusing to pigeonhole it.
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby big boss » Wed May 25, 2011 1:34 am UTC

Hawknc wrote:Whoa whoa whoa, sexuality? Where are you getting that from? Don't conflate gender identity with sexual identity, they're two different things


I'm not, I didn't even use the word... I guess my post was slightly vague enough that it could be interpreted that way somehow...
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Wed May 25, 2011 1:36 am UTC

Hawk was probably responding to Wodashin, since I noticed the same thing in his post.
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Hawknc » Wed May 25, 2011 1:38 am UTC

Yes, sorry, I should have changed my post to be clearer about who I was responding to.

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby podbaydoor » Wed May 25, 2011 1:49 am UTC

Wodashin wrote:Nonconformity for the sake of nonconformity has never appealed to me. We've had defined genders for thousands of years, before we could even grasp the concept of conformity and social experimentation. It's not like one guy decided to fuck everyone in the future. Things that are so fundamental seem like they'd be more genetically ingrained than anything else. I won't pretend to know though, but that's what I think common sense would dictate.

People used to be convinced for centuries that dark-skinned people were genetically inferior. It was just common sense, otherwise they wouldn't let themselves be conquered. Thankfully, we are capable of reasoning things through without slavishly aping what our ancestors thought.

Also, there are plenty of examples of ancient primitive villages where people assumed a third gender or switched between genders. The binary isn't as entrenched as you think.

I'm not saying we shouldn't allow kids to be different, I'm just saying that we should allow them to be different, not force them to be different.

That's what the parents are doing.
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Enuja
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Enuja » Wed May 25, 2011 1:58 am UTC

big boss wrote:Except for the minor fact that a toddler doesn't have the mental capacity to choose for themselves... Hell many people much older and wiser than a toddler can't even figure it out. Gender is ingrained in us genetically and pretending like we are blank slates is not going to help anyone because we simply are not blank slates (at least the majority of humanity is not).
You're saying that because toddlers don't have the mental capacity to choose for themselves, it's better that we choose for them, and give them all kinds of gender expectations and roles? That doesn't make any sense at all. If toddlers don't have the mental capacity to choose for themselves, wouldn't it make more sense to not force them into a category? That's what we do with sexual orientation and career choices: why not gender? Even if you think that gender is almost entirely nature instead of nurture, I'm guessing that you believe in the existence of transgender folks, whose mental nature does not match their physical nature. Why is it helpful for anyone to insist on treating people differently before we know what their nature is?

Even if you believe that gender is 100% innate (which nobody does), it still makes sense to check with the person for whom it is innate before we start expecting them to behave in certain ways.

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby addams » Wed May 25, 2011 2:30 am UTC

Enuja wrote:
Box Boy wrote:I'm against any experiments to find out on the off chance it severely screws up one of the people involved.
Wodashin wrote:It's also a bit odd to go against the norm to make a political statement at the cost of your child's childhood.
Parents effect their children. They can't choose to not do it. We already know that extant gender roles severely screw up everyone growing up in our society. It's a "normal" screwed up, of course, because it happens to all of us, but assumptions and expectations do awful things to all of us every day, whether we are gender conforming or not. If you aren't willing to allow any parents or societies to "experiment" with different ways of doing things (although Box Boy does think people should decrease the importance of gender roles, so I don't know where the line of what is "acceptable" experimentation falls for each of you), be aware that you are simply experimenting with society as a whole without a control group. The way we raise children matters. If we just stick with what we've been doing out of fear of fucking things up, we'll just keep fucking them up the way we've been fucking them up.

You are funny. And; You are right.
Nearly every parent messes up their children. That is what the children say. Few do it on purpose. That is what the parents say.
A child that has parents that care that much about the child, should be able to over come the moment when he/she decides to conform to gender stereotypes. It will make for an interesting life story.
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby RockoTDF » Wed May 25, 2011 4:01 am UTC

Why do the parents need to go as far as to ignore gender? Why can't they just let the kids do what they want, and tell them "it's ok for boys to wear dresses and girls to roll in the mud?" (etc, etc) It seems to me like going as far as they have is adding a layer of *potential* future problems and *potential* ridicule with no extra benefits to the children. If the behaviors/roles associated with gender wither away, doesn't gender itself disappear? Isn't that probably a more effective long term goal for both the kids and society?

Also, it really bothers me that these parents decided that it was a good idea to base their parenting decisions off of a children's book. Especially one this drastic.

Unschooling sounds to me like homeschooling without any standardization. Sounds like a terrible idea.
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Hawknc » Wed May 25, 2011 4:15 am UTC

As someone who is very much cisgendered and always felt at home with being male, I probably can't explain it very well, but my understanding is that there is more to gender dysphoria than simply wanting to wear a dress or play with trucks. (There are plenty of cross-dressing men who would still identify as male, for instance.)

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby mmmcannibalism » Wed May 25, 2011 4:22 am UTC

Unschooling sounds to me like homeschooling without any standardization. Sounds like a terrible idea.


To me, when someone actively says they are unschooling their children, it feels like they really mean they don't want to have to teach anything and hope the kid just goes out and learns it all.

On topic.

I feel as if actively opposing gender roles while raising your child is probably a far more effective approach then this gimmick(not quite the word I want). While I hate to use feelings as an argument, this sort of thing feels more like the parents just really hope their child isn't normal** so they can be proud of their tolerance.

**and I really really don't like how the word normal sounds, but in-congruent with current societal norms seems far too technical.
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Enuja » Wed May 25, 2011 4:36 am UTC

RockoTDF wrote:Why can't they just let the kids do what they want, and tell them "it's ok for boys to wear dresses and girls to roll in the mud?" (etc, etc)
Different parents are going to make different choices. This particular choice takes a lot of work, is extremely unusual, and I have no idea how effective or how risky it is. Nobody else knows how risky or effective it is, either, because it hasn't been done enough to have any real data on it. However, I do know that when parents try very hard to not require gender roles for their children, lots of the other adults and children* around that child persist in enforcing gender expectations. If the society as a whole did as you suggest, it might be very effective. But society as a whole doesn't buy into that, so these parents are trying to short circuit the huge societal influences that say the exact opposite of that. A fair number of parents do as you suggest, and I applaud them for it. But I also applaud, and am very interested in, this more comprehensive method.

The choice to not reveal a child's gender addresses the very real influence of everyone around the child on the child. It's not a solution for a non-existent problem. We don't know how well it work (and I'm quite certain it would be much more successful in some social contexts than in others), but the only way to find out how well it will work is to try it. I am very happy to allow individual parents to decide how they will present gender to their children and how they will present the gender of their children to the world. Those of you who have a problem with this: how is your position any more well supported or valid than the position of all of the people who have a problem with little boys who like wearing pink dresses or having their nails painted? This sounds icky to you, so don't it with your children. But why object to the choices of parents trying very hard to be the best possible parents for their children?

*And story books and television shows and gendered language and a whole host of other details of our society.

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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby M.C. » Wed May 25, 2011 5:52 am UTC

Who, in the day to day life of this quite annoyingly named child, will actually see the non-disclosure of gender?

All anyone will see is the child, make assumptions of gender based upon the behaviour which the child exhibits, and all will be well in the world.
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby Belial » Wed May 25, 2011 12:02 pm UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:To me, when someone actively says they are unschooling their children, it feels like they really mean they don't want to have to teach anything and hope the kid just goes out and learns it all.


That is not how unschooling works.

Wodashin wrote:We've had defined genders for thousands of years, before we could even grasp the concept of conformity and social experimentation.


In a word, bullshit. For one, you're assuming that in addition to not being advanced, that our ancestors were stupid. If you're capable of observing your life and thinking about issues of conformity, an idea that has no bearing on our level of technological or scientific advancement, then your ancestors thousands of years ago were capable of doing that too, and probably did.

Second, you're assuming that because some idea of gender existed for thousands of years that this makes it innate, and likewise that it has remained the same over that period. Nope! The traits and activities assigned to the different genders have fluctuated wildly across cultures and through time. And there have always been people who fell outside them, and various social structures to deal with those people. Which would tend to imply that they are, surprise, completely fucking arbitrary!

Anyway. So this kid gets to explore their own gender without having gender imposed on them by outsiders. Good. Has anyone ever seen the way people, not just parents, interact with young children? The gender enforcement starts early and hard. People will start putting your kid in a box immediately if you let them, and teaching them behaviours and attitudes that will become so firmly ingrained that years later those same kids will be arguing on forums and idiotic journal articles about how they've been genetically programmed since the days of our savanna ancestors. It's a bad scene. Some enlightened parents try to deal with this by swatting those folk away. This couple has decided to handle it by short-circuiting that behaviour at the root. Good luck to them.
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Re: Parents choose not to assign/disclose their baby's gende

Postby KestrelLowing » Wed May 25, 2011 2:55 pm UTC

I just can't help but think that they're actually alienating their child from other adults though. Specifically not telling them the sex of the kid basically states to other adults that the parents don't trust you and that you should stay away from this child because you're going to be the reason they end up being unhappy with having a certain biology.

Just think about the people you can't really tell if they're male or female. Sadly, the majority of people are kind of freaked out by that - I am too because I want to know. Perhaps, honestly so I know how to interact with them. And yes, this is the whole point of not telling the baby's gender, but it just alienates a lot of people. You focus that discomfort onto a baby and I think that would feel like deliberately ostracizing your baby.


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