Tori's Blog

Raising A Gender-Free Child?

Friday, August 12th, 2011

A close friend sent me this article a month or so ago and I initially breezed over it and sent a corresponding reply with a rather predictable opinion as to what I thought about it. This morning I finally read the article and all the corresponding responses in detail.

Similarly to the discussion around home vs. hospital birth or “better” ways to give birth, parenting philosophies are often freely expressed with strong opinions. Although I would like to say that I am completely open and tolerant of others’ choices, I am afraid I am not yet that evolved. I do find myself, at times, thinking “what the … ?”

I have been birthing babies long enough to have seen just about everything. The family in this article have chosen to raise the youngest of their 3 children “genderless”, meaning they have told no one the child’s sex and do not plan to. They will allow the child to “decide” when he or she wishes to divulge the mystery of  being either a “boy or girl”.

I know such a family. This family also practices “un-schooling”, which basically means the children receive no formal education. When our children are small we can impart pretty much any ideal we wish on them. It is only as they grow and interact with the world around them that we see how they are impacted by those ideals.

I have two friends who were raised in “hippie communes” – their words. As soon as they were adults, both changed the name they were born with to a classically traditional name. And both freely express that they had to work harder in learning to manage the world once they left their nests.

I, in no way attest to know what is best, even for my own son. Parenting, like life, is often a “fly by the seat of your pants” process.  I do though believe that we have a responsibility to try, as best we can, to prepare our children to thrive in the world around them. Gender simply isn’t a philosophical issue. We are born either male or female. Is it really fair or healthy to pretend otherwise? I’d love to know what you think.

Your Comments

  1. “Gender simply isn’t a philosophical issue. We are born either male or female. Is it really fair or healthy to pretend otherwise?”

    The majority of people are born male or female (however there are many people born intersex with either both or ambiguous genitalia), however that deals with sex classifications, not gender categories. The parents in this article aren’t denying that their child has a biological sex, however they know that the majority of our society still associates particular sexes with particular genders. If a child is born male, people automatically assume they are a boy. However this assumption of gender is social constructed and not always accurate of the child’s personal feelings. So it’s not that the parents are ignoring the society around them, but they are trying to allow their child to navigate these societal structures with as little outside influence/pressure as possible.

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