A couple in Toronto has kicked off a controversy over gender and parenting by keeping their third child's gender a secret. Kathy Witterick, 38 and David Stocker, 39, say that four-month-old Storm will be able to decide for him or herself what gender he or she wants to identify with. After the birth they explained to relatives and friends: "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? ...)."
They already have two children, Jazz, 5, and Kio, 2, who are boys. Witterick and Stocker are also trying to avoid forcing them into the constrictions of a single gender identity: "As a result, Jazz and now Kio are almost exclusively assumed to be girls," Stocker told the Toronto Star. It's up to the boys to correct mistaken impressions.
"Everyone keeps asking us, 'When will this end?'" says Witterick. "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?"
The gender experiment seems to be one dimension of Witterick's educational philosophy of "unschooling", an offshoot of the home-schooling movement which allows children to learn whatever they like.
The couple's unusual decision for Storm provoked a lot of comment, almost none of it supportive. Even Time magazine's health reporterBonnie Rochman, said "The way Storm's parents handle the de-genderizing (is that a word?) of the youngest member of their family is confusing at best and creepy at worst." ~ Toronto Star, May 21
I believe the parents of this child -- by not revealing his or her gender -- are seeking publicity, in an effort to make a lot of money (movies, books, etc.).
Either that, or they are extremely liberal in their philosophy. This type of philosophy -- let the child do anything he (or she) wants -- usually backfires when the child is old enough to play with other children and cannot share toys or respect other children's opinions. This inability to have one's own way usually results in a rude awakening for the parents of the child, who then realize that they must become firmer with their child, so that the child does not become a "misfit" in society.
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