Four month old Storm looks much like any other baby, with blue eyes and blonde hair. But his/ her parents have decided to raise their child without gender – and have not revealed to anyone whether the perfectly healthy child is actually male or female.
David Stocker and Kathy Witterick from Toronto didn’t want their child to be stereotyped. They didn’t want the inevitable blue or pink clothing that arrives as soon as you announce your baby’s sex. So they decided to raise Storm without gender.
Their belief is that without being cast into a role as male or female Storm will develop his/ her own personality, likes and traits without the straightjacket that societal norms can impose.
In an e-mail, Ms Witterick wrote that the idea that, “the whole world must know what is between the baby’s legs is unhealthy, unsafe, and voyeuristic.”
It’s a test of the old nature v nurture debate really. And does gender matter that much to a baby? Or is this a bizarre experiment that’s bound to go wrong eventually?
Storm’s has two older brothers, Jazz, aged 5, and Kio, 2. Their parents allow the boys to pick out their own clothes and decide their own look. Jazz often wears dresses, braids his hair and loves to wear pink nail polish. Ki meanwhile wears his hair long and likes to dress in purple.
“As a result, Jazz and now Kio are almost exclusively assumed to be girls,” says David Stocker, adding he and Kathy Witterick don’t out them. They leave it up to the boys to correct assumptions about their gender.
Is this the ultimate freedom for children to develop in their own way, or is it simply placing unnecessary pressure on two young boys? Again it can be seen as an interesting experiment, but is it healthy to test out your own theories on the assumption of gender roles through your children?
Stocker and Witterick are rather unusual parents. And only time will tell whether their children benefit or suffer from their unconventional approach.