More parents in the United States are bucking the traditional gender norms. Norms like playing with toys and wearing clothing that is created for their gender. Raising a child in a gender neutral or non-binary home.
Parents who support the choice of gender flexible toys and clothing, argue that allowing children to have a choice will make the child feel more secure and safe in their lifestyles. They believe that the boy or girl who are allowed to choose their own traditions will be more capable of differentiating from the other as opposed to a person who is assigned a gender preference from birth. This trend begs the inevitable question of whether or not gender fluid toys and clothing are a “good parenting choice?” There is no clear answer to this question.
In 2011, a couple in Toronto, Kathy Witterick, and David Stocker, allowed their child, Storm (an intentionally gender neutral name), to live without a gender preference. They chose not to reveal the Storm’s gender to anyone outside of their immediate family-the couple already parents to 2 sons.
In replace of the traditional birth announcement, they sent an e-mail to family and friends saying that “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? …).” In another, more recent example, famous couple Dwayne Wade and NBA player and actress, Gabriel Union has also sparked controversial debate when they announced that they would raise their prepubescent child who was born a male, in a non-binary manner. Both couples, very public decision, sparked, a continental debate on the topic of gender and children. These parents believe that children are pressured at too early an age to adhere to strict gender social “norrms” of gender.
They encourage a gender neutral environment in their homes in order to encourage the child to eventually make a choice of their own gender. However, there are drawbacks to such a choice, it can be hard for a child to maintain this gender neutrality outside of their home.
As a result, the child can become a target of bullies and often excluded from many functions and events. In fact, Witterick and Stocker got so much public backlash from their choice that they eventually declined further interviews to the press. Since the time of Wade and Union’s announcement, their son has decided to transition to a female. Today as more and more parents make the decision to raise a neutral gender child, there are many blogs, books and other resources that offers parents the support and guidance that they need to raise a child in that way.
It is believed that gender is established in a fetus as young as 20 weeks old. It is also believed that at this 20 week old mark, is when the parents begin to form an emotional attachment to the baby’s sex. The gender neutral position, allows the child to discover their own personality and gender preference this means that bringing a child to a home that is surrounded by pink or blue will probably heavily dictate which sex the child ends up associating themselves with.
While this is a hotly debated subject in the U.S. and in other countries, whether or not raising a child as gender neutral does more harm than good. Only time will tell.