Baby's gender kept under wraps... thoughts?

jeff's picture

Interesting idea... thoughts?

"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."

Whole story at:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110524/ts_yblog_thelookout/pa...

lonewolf678's picture

Hmm

The birth certificate exists, not to show someones gender in the future, but at the present time of birth. Hence "Birth Certificate". Just to be clear I'm not Transbashing.

jeff's picture

Nope...

Sex, not gender.

Sex = between legs
Gender = between ears

---
"Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are." - Kurt Cobain

lonewolf678's picture

Yeah,

I always mix them up. I can't say I speak for Trans folk. It was a "thought" after all.

jeff's picture

I think...

it is more about influencing how people will interact with the baby knowing the sex. Like a girl baby would be surrounded by pink stuff and more delicate things, boy baby might get bluer, butcher things. So, I think it's more about avoiding that trap than concealing the sex.

---
"Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are." - Kurt Cobain

lonewolf678's picture

I agree.

Totally seems that way now that I actually think more about it.

whateversexual_llama's picture

i am jealous of that

i am jealous of that baby.

which is ridiculous. but true.

also, the writing of this article made me sad, just in the phrasing. They talk about the other kids "escaping" the parent's parenting, as is unconventional parenting is abuse.

the mouse that roared's picture

The article it linked to was

The article it linked to was much less judgmental--this article was basically a negative summary of the longer one.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. --Anais Nin

Super Duck's picture

Unpopular opinion time.

Something similar has been done before, by the way. (And in Sweden!)

Gonna get flamed, but oh well. This is just... weird to me. I don't know. But I've obviously never had a child, so I ran it by the nearest person who had. (My mom, probably not the most credible source, but oh well.) She thinks it's a little strange too.

My mom thinks that the best way to go is to raise your child as their birth sex, but only until they express an issue with it. And then you should be supportive. You don't have to raise them in super rigid gender roles either; it should be fine for your son to play with dolls, for example. This is one rare occasion on which I must agree with her. She also went into a rant about how it's a social experiment for publicity, but I'm not so sure on that. I think their intentions are good, but it's just too extreme.

The thing is, the vast majority of people are cisgendered. For example, in the article it states that they have two other children, both boys. The older boy is very feminine and gets mistaken for a girl, but he still says he's a boy. No one should raise their child in super strict gender roles, but I think this is just a little too extreme.

jeff's picture

Uhh...

It really isn't extreme, since it only affects older people and makes them think about it. The kid won't know or remember any of this stuff. It's not like the kid's going to go to high school and need a special bathroom because no one's allowed to know its sex.

---
"Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are." - Kurt Cobain

the mouse that roared's picture

Look, gender itself is a

Look, gender itself is a form of violent oppression. Why would you want your child actively participating in that? It's a social construct, one that is significantly harmful. Let the child pick and choose. Allowing a baby ambiguous gender from birth allows that baby to choose with more freedom how to express their gender later on. Gendering begins from birth and it's an onslaught.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. --Anais Nin

Super Duck's picture

hahaha what

I don't think it's "violent oppression" or anything. I love being a girl. I don't think it's some terrible, horrible thing; I actually LIKE having a gender. Now, I know not everyone feels the same way, and that's okay. If I had a child who didn't want to be either a boy or a girl, then I would respect their wishes.

I'm sorry, but I just can't see HOW simply having a gender is just so bad and terrible. I know I sound like a giant asshole but I'm just like... what.

Maybe I just don't "get it." I'll admit, I probably don't. I'm a feminine female who loves being a girl and has never had an issue with her gender. It would make sense that I don't "get it."

But the idea that it is detrimental to raise your child as either a boy or a girl until they protest and want to be something else is absolutely laughable to me.

the mouse that roared's picture

First:

Laughing in response to someone else's (non-joking) post is not a way to have a constructive conversation.

Second:
I am not discussing anyone's gender identity or expression here. People should be free to identify and express their gender however they desire. This is about the gendered system itself, where the binary of male and female have built-in power plays.

Sexism is alive and well in Western culture, however "liberated" most people like to think women are. On an institutional level, for example, only 15% of elected officials in the US are women. In families and relationships, the vast majority of those experiencing sexual assault, harassment, and abuse are women (with a disproportionate representation of queers as well). The model of a successful person in the workplace is a masculinized one, while women--in the home and the workplace--are encouraged and molded to better fit with "caring" types of positions and roles. In terms of the minutia of daily life, to speak generally, men (especially those who are unaware of male privilege) dominate discussions, usually walk around at night without fear of assault, can find complicated and (more) realistic portrayals of themselves in the media that do not have solely to do with sex (See the Bechdel Test ), and feel safe from spying, rape, and harassment even within their own homes. Women cannot say these things. They are second-class citizens, a sex class if you will.

My goal is not to take away your enjoyment of being a girl, or feminine, or any of this. Feminine women can get this. Masculine women can get it. Androgynous women, etc.--men, too, can get it, although from a different perspective. Anyone along the gender spectrum can understand. It simply can be most easily visible to those labeled female on a daily basis. My goal is to show you the extent to which women and men are still unequal in this society. The existence itself of gender, and its expression, are the source of this inequality. This is how gender, in large and small ways, is a form of violent oppression. As the world stands, most people have to have a gender, or at least interact in a highly gendered society. But how it is expressed and awareness of how gendered dynamics play out is vital first to understanding how sexism works in society, and then to dismantling this patriarchal system--to the extent that we can.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. --Anais Nin

the mouse that roared's picture

And Third:

As mother of Storm Kathy Witterick puts it, "It is demonstrated in research and the day-to-day world that gender stereotyping causes suffering to both men and women." (Her letter today) Given this suffering, and the pervasiveness, the saturation of gendering in our society, it seems quite reasonable to me that someone would want to remove a child from that system as much as possible. By the time the child hirself demands it, much suffering would already have occurred. This is suffering of a different kind than the bullying and consternation gender-bending people experience. It is the suffering of being placed in a box that arbitrarily determines how one should act and how much power one has in society, the suffering of constraining an identity that might otherwise be freer and stronger.

In terms of this child's agency (as much as children have agency when they are four months old, or are minors/dependents at all for that matter), Storm's parents are keeping this arrangement as is until she hears otherwise from their children. There is not coercion involved--in many ways, there is less coercion than arbitrarily gendering a baby would result in.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. --Anais Nin

Dracofangxxx's picture

Lol what

How does gender have anything to do with this? You're talking about sex. If there's a woman out there but inside she's thinking "omg I have no gender at all", it doesn't MATTER. Gender really DOESN'T matter. I mean, to anyone but yourself, I guess.

To each their own, I guess.

Anyways... Woo, you can use big words and talk about statistics! But in the end of the day, where are we? The USA. Were women can walk around and show their ankles and wear belly shirts and not worry about getting stoned.

Personally, if women CAN be politicians, and women CAN do whatever men can, I don't CARE how many women DO. There's just facts that women like to do certain things more and men like other things. And when it comes to taking care of the baby that flies out of our vaginas, I think women want to take care of it more than sticking it into the arms of someone else. That's just how it is- Women have babies, take care of babies, men work. It makes sense to me. But if a woman chooses not to, then she CAN! Neither is "degrading". Gender roles aren't degrading, it's the attitude that assholes have against them.

See, myself? I like to think positively. The acceptance of LGBTQ stuff is moving FORWARD in the USA- And that's good enough for me. As long as it isn't going backwards, I like to think that I'm thankful enough that we're not like some other lame country that DOESN'T accept it.
-
That's redick!

the mouse that roared's picture

So

I'm a bit confused about what you're trying to say in some parts of your post. What do you mean I'm talking about sex? I'm not saying that these things are occurring simply because of the differences between what's between people's legs. That's just biology. Gender is everything else--how it's projected onto you, how you experience it, how you identify and express it. Ideally, gender wouldn't exist. As it is, gender identity, etc.--as I said earlier, I don't care how you identify. I'm talking about how the gender binary itself is misogynistic.

If the Seneca Falls Convention has measured women's status in society by the level of revealing clothing they can wear without being killed, we wouldn't have a lot of the rights we have today in this country. And if prejudice stops at the institutional level, then suicide rates for LGBTQ teens in states like Massachusetts that grant nearly-equal rights would be nonexistent. Just because a woman is legally able to do these things does not mean that there are not societal expectations and pressures that limit her career. Attitudes like yours--a woman's biological capacity to carry children somehow explains a mysterious desire to be a caretaker the rest of her life--reinforce this and add to pressures on the home front and workplace. It is impossible for working women to meet demands in both places without taking a cut from one or the other.

Yes, we are in the US. Yes, it is easier to live here as a woman than in other countries--I know. I've lived in very conservative environments abroad. But that doesn't mean we should sit on our haunches and relax, or that we are somehow free. Because we aren't. Women get the short end of the stick, but men and women alike are limited and constrained by gender. What if I said that because things are better for queers in America than in other places, we should just stop fighting for queer rights? I like to think positively too. But I first like to think without deluding myself, or being satisfied with a culture that constantly subjugates women.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. --Anais Nin

Dracofangxxx's picture

I'm saying,

that the "violent oppression" people have on gender isn't true. There's a slight amount of sexual bias that I rarely see anymore.

Have you ever had a child?
Because once you carry something nine months within you and give birth to a human being, maternal instincts SHOULD kick in. That's the same reason why women who get abortions are often emotionally scarred as well- The body doesn't like not taking care of it's children. And men are less likely to take care of the child. That's why when children are born, they often look more like the dad- The father sees that and wants to take care of it more.

It's not gender bias or anything by saying men are usually the take-home people. They bring in the money and stuff. That's how it's been FOREVER because women ARE physically weaker and more creatively intelligent. Women can see a greater range of colours to be able to distinguish between berries and plants while foraging.

I mean, men and women CAN do the same jobs. Gender regardless. But less women DO some of them... I don't believe anyone is REALLY out there to get women anymore. I mean, jeez. This is 2011. As far as I've seen, there's not exactly any pressures for women TO be housewives, in fact... the opposite.

Honestly, I hate the pressure of people saying I HAVE to work and I HAVE to go to college. That's a CHOICE that I DECIDE to make. Maybe I want to be a housewife! Maybe being lazy all day and just taking care of my kids sounds good to me! I mean, that's the easy life. As long as I CAN do whatever I WANT to do, I am not complaining. Because I ask for equality, not to be treated like some special butterfly. Who cares if a dude is like "lol you're a woman, you can't play viola"? Then I'll practice my ass off and make him realize he's wrong!

I mean, whatevs. I don't know ANYONE like that. The sex subjugating is practically gone now. There are MUCH worse things to be worried and angry about. I'm a woman- BIG DEAL! Nothing special about being a man OR a woman. Equal. Equality. Let them think what they want. You can't force anyone to think the way you want, but you can force them to allow you the same rights.

And as I said... This is SEX discrimination, not gender! If you're a genderqueer or transgender/transsexual, they rely on your body to determine it- If you walked up and were like "Oh I'm a woman even though I have a man's body", people wouldn't automatically subconsciously go GET BACK IN THE KITCHEN, FEMALE!

Or maybe they would, that makes me chuckle :P

I don't know- There might be SECRET degredation of females that isn't apparent. But the longer we have the RIGHTS, the more normal it will be.
-
That's redick!

whateversexual_llama's picture

re: violent oppression if

re: violent oppression

if you do not fit the societies prescribed gender role (and I do not mean housewife vs. G.I. joe, I mean meeting the standards of being a woman and a man in dress, performance, behavior, bathroom use, etc), you are at a higher risk of being lashed out at, with violence or hateful speak. You are at a higher risk of being the victim of a hate crime.

If you are born with "abnormal" genitalia, i.e. genitalia that is not traditionally male or female, you will be surgically altered, often without the parents being notified, never with your consent.

Gender is assigned nonconsensually; this is unacceptable.

allowing a child to choose their own gender is NOT forcing your ideals onto your child, it is letting your child participate in consentual gender. This may not be SAFE (see: violent oppression) in all circles of society, but it is a step.

Furthermore, if you do not believe that the feminist movement and women's rights deserve media, attention, and work, shame on you. open your fucking eyes.

Dracofangxxx's picture

Lol

Everyone's at risk for a hate crime over ANYTHING they do or are. That doesn't mean there's VIOLENT OPPRESSION over everyone.

People CAN be dicks, but that's hardly violent oppression.

And yeah... You know why they fix abnormal genetalia? So that the child, when it grows up, can decide if it wants to have babies or not. And surgery at a younger age, when the body parts haven't finished growing, is easier and better. Would you rather grow up feeling like a freak because you were born with malfunctioning and wrong looking genetalia?

What if, at birth, they could have surgically fixed you to be the right body? Whatever you wanted? You wouldn't be complaining, right?
but they can't know what you want. It's best to fix it early instead of later.

Anyways, when did I ever say I disagreed with this? I think it's a really good idea- But I don't believe in gender/sexual oppression. I don't see it, so I'm not really feeling motivated to fight for it. I'm not a feminist. I don't feel or see any reason TO be. I've got equality. The minute I feel like I should fight for it, then I will... But it's absent for me.

Don't go tiger hunting in Antarctica... You'll just be disappointed :U
-
That's redick!

whateversexual_llama's picture

Re: "Everyone's at risk for

Re: "Everyone's at risk for a hate crime over ANYTHING they do or are. That doesn't mean there's VIOLENT OPPRESSION over everyone."

Number one, not everyone is at risk for a hate crime because not everyone is part of a minority group. You (almost) never hear of rich heterosexual white men being attacked as a hate crime.

Number two, even if everyone is at risk for a hate crime, that doesn’t mean hate crimes don’t exist. People are still being attacked for their identity or their perceived identity. That is still violence. That violence is still saying “no, don’t be that. be this and I won’t kill you.” That is violent oppression.

Re: "Anyways, when did I ever say I disagreed with this? I think it's a really good idea- But I don't believe in gender/sexual oppression. I don't see it, so I'm not really feeling motivated to fight for it. I'm not a feminist. I don't feel or see any reason TO be. I've got equality. The minute I feel like I should fight for it, then I will... But it's absent for me."

How can you say you don’t see any reason to fight for equality? The fact that you have it, that you live in a place where you can’t see the inequality is simply a sign of your privilege, not a sign of its nonexistence.

You don’t see rape happen because it often happens at night. ..when you’re sleeping. Does that mean it doesn’t exist? No! According the the US Department of Justice, there were 191,670 victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2005. According to the same source, 91% of all rape/sexual assualt victims are female. If you do the math, that's 174,420 women you don't know who are now dealing with physical injury, post-assault trauma, or are DEAD. How dare you say they don’t exist or don’t matter

You don’t see women get paid less because that happens in private banks. ..to which you are not privy. Does that mean the stats don’t exist? No!
image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/0/0c/Income_inequity_US.p...
article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male–female_income_disparity_in_the_United_States

Rape and wage gaps are both clear examples of gender oppression that you don’t see that have a very real affect on the world in which you live. Women are being targeted and harmed just for their gender/gender expression. The same is true for transwomen except they get the added joys of being denied housing and jobs in addition to rape and assault.

If you aren’t identifying as a feminist, you need to wake up. If you aren’t willing to fight gender oppression, you at least need to give a shit about it.

Oh, ps, about intersexuality... "freaks"? I think they only feel like freaks because of societal pressure.

Dracofangxxx's picture

It's not that I don't fight for equality...

I don't NEED to.

Anyways... you misunderstand a lot of what I say. And I don't want to deal with this anymore.

It's not like I'm not part of that statistic. I'm not absent to sexual abuse either...

-
That's redick!

whateversexual_llama's picture

uhm, so, like, if we're

uhm, so, like, if we're always misunderstanding everything you say, do you think maybe for the sake of your own sanity you should consider re-reading and rephrasing before you post? Like, don't get me wrong, I like love adore blunt harsh honest you, I do a lot, and I'm not telling you you ought edit any of yourself out. But I hate getting mad at you for things you didn't mean to say. Seriously.

And also, I'm really sorry I brought up the sexual abuse. I knew that from former posts of yours and if I had remembered, I would've found a different statistic. Truly.

Dracofangxxx's picture

I do read over it,

And it makes sense to me. So, just nevermind.
-
That's redick!

the mouse that roared's picture

Thanks for keeping on the

Thanks for keeping on the discussion, both of you. I have as of late been feeling too angry and raw about this (not you in particular Dracofangxxx, but you didn't help) to find the proper response and words. Thanks for saying what I would have liked to have said, and probably more sensitively, whateversexual_llama.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. --Anais Nin

the mouse that roared's picture

And just to throw it

And just to throw it in--then this is really closed--not everyone who is intersexed sees restructuring of their "abnormal" genatalia as "fixing" it. Read up on intersex identity.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. --Anais Nin

Super Duck's picture

I must've misunderstood you;

I must've misunderstood you; your original comment made it sound as if simply having a gender was a bad thing.

But... I honestly don't see how women have it that bad in America, at least not compared to, say, the Middle East. I mean, yes, there are still a few things that aren't so great, like the things you mentioned, but I wouldn't say we are "oppressed" here. But things are like that because people are assholes. The majority group almost always wants to hurt the minority group.

Also, this mother is actually setting her children up for bullying and pain. I realize that she doesn't mean to, and she thinks she is doing the right thing, but like it or not, the majority of society probably won't know how to react to this. And she went public with it, so now the world knows about these children.

the mouse that roared's picture

Change a few words: "I

Change a few words: "I honestly don't see how queer people have it that bad in America, at least not compared to, say, the Middle East." Does that mean it doesn't matter? Where is your line of oppression drawn?

Also, we don't know how this story hit the media. They may not have wanted this story to be covered this way, or at all.

In terms of this mother caring for her child's well-being, this is what she has to say: “When faced with inevitable judgment by others, which child stands tall (and sticks up for others) — the one facing teasing despite desperately trying to fit in, or the one with a strong sense of self and at least two 'go-to' adults who love them unconditionally? Well, I guess you know which one we choose.” (http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/babiespregnancy/babies/article/995112...)

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. --Anais Nin

Just Dave's picture

I'm a gonna...

...have to go with Super Duck with this one. It does seem extreme.

But also, I'm really confused as to how this will help Storm at all. It just seems like their kid's gonna feel socially ostracized from a young age. I don't really see why that should happen if it can be avoided.

jeff's picture

Uhh...

I highly doubt this kid will make to preschool without the sex being known, so not sure this will have any impact on the kid at all.

---
"Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are." - Kurt Cobain

whateversexual_llama's picture

i mean, that brings you to

i mean, that brings you to the question: does telling 6 month or 1 year old infant "you're a beautiful princess" vs "what a big strong boy" over and over and over and over and over again have an effect on its development?

I think so. *shrug*

MacAvity's picture

But -

Don't babies that age usually just get 'What a cute baby!' regardless of sex? Princesses usually come a bit later, no?

whateversexual_llama's picture

i've read some fascinating

i've read some fascinating studies on this. i'm having trouble finding the ones i've seen in psych textbooks from school, but...

"Overall, the sex differences between boys and girls in the first year of life are minimal. Boys may be a bit more active or fussier and girls more physically mature and less prone to physical problems, but that may be the extent of the significant differences. Yet, baby boys are bounced and roughhoused, whereas girls are talked to more. Mothers tend to ignore the emotional expressions of their infant sons, while fathers spend more time with their boys than with their girls. Even during infancy, their names, their clothing, the "sugar and spice" messages in baby congratulation cards, and their room furnishings shape girls and boys. According to Marilyn Stern and Katherine H. Karraker, adults will characterize the same baby as strong and hardy if they think it is a male, and delicate and soft if they think it is a female. In these and other ways, gender-role socialization has already begun in earnest."
~ http://social.jrank.org/pages/272/Gender-Role-Development.html

aaaaalternately:

"studies that have addressed the question of whether adults and children respond differently to male and female infants because of actual differences in the infants or because of preconceived sex stereotypes are reviewed, and the overall conclusions from these studies are evaluated. Twenty-three studies were identified in which neutrally clothed infant stimuli were labeled male in some conditions and female in other conditions. The strength and consistency of gender labeling effects on perceptions and behaviors in these studies were appraised. The results indicate that knowledge of an infant's gender is not a consistent determinant of adults' reactions, but more strongly influences young children's reactions. The implications of these findings for research on early sex role socialization are considered."
~ http://www.springerlink.com/content/n18858k384585k87/

however
if you compare the first statement to the second, the quote was "perceived as male." Since gender perception is an amalgamation of factors such as setting, dress, and prior knowledge, as opposed to the more basic system in the second statement, the first might be more applicable.

jeff's picture

I know...

many couples who learned the sex of their in utero spawn just so they could know what color to paint the room. ;-)

---
"Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are." - Kurt Cobain

whateversexual_llama's picture

right. and so they could

right. and so they could decide if they'd use the baseball mural or the ballerina one. >.<

loreonpravus's picture

This was in the paper today

This was in the paper today (yes, it's Sunday, the web version is faster than the print). It's Storm's mom's response to the frenzy. Thought you guys might want to see it.

http://www.thestar.com/news/article/998960--genderless-baby-s-mother-res...

Just Dave's picture

That...

...is one smart momma. I actually really like this lady and her motivations. Probably the most harmful thing from all of this is all the media attention they are getting.

However, toward the end, she started to sound a little weird. She talked about her 2-year old as if he was very, very mature:

"Jazz has a strong sense of being a boy, and he understands that his choices are not always acceptable to his community. He chooses freely to do them anyway, because he also has learned to respect difference, love himself and navigate the world in a way that is true to his own voice."

I think what she is saying is awesome, but is it possible she's projecting her own view of the world on to her son?

Her motivations are solid, and her heart is definitely in the right place, but I personally like the approach she took with her older son.

whateversexual_llama's picture

Jazz is the 5-year-old; Kio

Jazz is the 5-year-old; Kio is the 2-year-old. for the record.

but yes, yes, yes, i love this mother. =]