May 24 2011

Gender-free baby?

Published by at 1:06 pm

I’ll be on Byline with Brian Lilley (Sun TV) today to discuss this:

While there’s nothing ambiguous about Storm’s genitalia, they aren’t telling anyone whether their third child is a boy or a girl.The only people who know are Storm’s brothers, Jazz, 5, and Kio, 2, a close family friend and the two midwives who helped deliver the baby in a birthing pool at their Toronto home on New Year’s Day.“When the baby comes out, even the people who love you the most and know you so intimately, the first question they ask is, ‘Is it a girl or a boy?’” says Witterick, bouncing Storm, dressed in a red-fleece jumper, on her lap at the kitchen table.“If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs,” says Stocker.

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Véronique adds: Believe it or not, I don’t have a strong opinion on that one. I don’t know much about the philosophy , politics or ethics of gender identity. There are a few things I know for sure and others that I suspect. Of the few things I know for sure is that social expectations of gender – girls in pink, boys in blue, dolls and trucks etc. – are at best nice tries. I have a son who likes ballet and nail polish, along with Nerf guns and fire trucks. I have a daughter who is mesmerized by big trucks and sparkly high heels. They were raised in a house with equal numbers of Thomas the Tank Engine and Polly Pockets. I hate shopping. My husband likes a clean house. People can try raising a gender-free baby and at best, they’ll get a boy who likes long hair or a girl who likes motorbikes. They’ll still have a boy or a girl. Unless their child develops/ was born with a gender identity issue in which case no amount of dressing in blue or watching High School Musical was going to make a difference anyway. I say this as someone with a transgendered relative: these things run deeper than your childhood toys.

One of the things I suspect is that people with gender issues – real ones that require treatment, surgery and therapy – see studies explaining why they are all mixed-up with the same disdain I feel when I listen to world population experts quote studies proving that mothers of big families all secretly wish they had 2 kids: with eyes rolling way, way back. My point is, we’re all wierd to someone else. Storm’s parents are wierd. I’m wierd to  most of my kids’ classmates’ parents. I had three babies at home. Some people consider this tantamount to child endangerment. I never had an epidural. Some people consider this downward crazy.

Another thing I suspect is that Storm’s parents love him (or her) very much as they love their older sons and it seems that they are well cared for. There’s a lot more to worry about and get scandalized over in child welfare than parents who appear a bit nutty. I mean, seriously. Some people manage to starve their kids to death. In Canada. Under the watch of child welfare authorities.

In the end, isn’t it ironic that parents who want to deny the importance of gender will give more importance to their child’s genitals than any of my colour-coded babies will ever get? Ironic but sad for the kid who never asked for the scrutiny. But he or she won’t be the first child to pay for his parents 15 minutes of fame.

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