Parents Raising ‘Genderless’ Children

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 by from Buzzworthy Bulletins

genderless baby

Baby Storm’s gender is a family secret. It’s parents, Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, decided to hide it’s gender “in an effort to provide the child freedom to eventually decide on a gender identity, without the influence of societal expectation and narrow, traditional gender roles.”  

Baby Storm’s five-year-old brother, Jazz, was raised the same way and is often mistaken to be female, due to “his penchant for wearing his hair in braids and sometimes donning a dress.” And even though Jazz is old enough for school, he elected not to start last year because he doesn’t want to get made fun of.  

Witterick said, “People – children and adults – would immediately react with Jazz over his gender. That’s mostly why he doesn’t want to go to school.”

Yes, children should be raised to feel comfortable and confident with their sexual preferences and identities, whether they are typical or not. But a part of growing up includes developing an identity; and creating this “expectation-free zone” may do more damage than good. How can you create an identity if you can’t say whether you are a boy, or a girl?

Dr. Harold Koplewicz, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, said, “The fact is that gender differences are not all socially invented, and they’re not all chosen – there are differences in male and female brains that show up rather early in children’s development. It’s not just a stereotype that girls tend to develop language skills earlier, and find it easier to sit still, while boys tend to be more rambunctious. Some of the typical variation in boys’ and girls’ play – the trucks vs. dolls – is based on those inherent differences between the majority of boys and the majority of girls.”

Koplewicz says that the most disturbing part of this story is the secret Witterick and Stocker have asked their sons to keep. Not only does he say it’s unhealthy to keep family secrets, but he also says, “Gender is a part of who we are, even if we hope that it wouldn’t matter as much as it often does. Pretending it doesn’t exist isn’t a good message to send to a child – or an infant. It magnifies, rather than reducing, its importance.”

What do you think? Is this the end of gender roles as we know them? Do you think Storm’s parents are brilliant and making ground-breaking gender role changes, or are they abusing their children? Could you keep your baby’s gender a secret?

What do you think? Parents Raising ‘Genderless’ Children

Kim ShannonEditor

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

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153 comments

  1. Avatar of Ashleigh Ashleigh says:

    This is definitely something that I would never do, however in our house, we do not have gender specific toys. My girls are allowed to play with girls/boys toys and if they find a shirt that’s more boyish, I’m not going to not let them wear it.

  2. Avatar of cassie cassie says:

    This is odd to me but I wont deprive one of my kids from playing with a toy that is “intended” for the opposite sex they are. Ive even allowed my son to play dress up with his younger sister using her dress up clothes and vice versa. Not to mention some boys in my family have walked around the house in our high heels. At the end of the day, they know they are boys and I can say “have walked in my shoes.” As well as my daughter putting on daddies work boots or shoes daddy left out. They know who they are and what they like and know what makes a boy a boy and a girl a girl…there are “parts” involved (anatomy, HELLO!) A CHILD IS A BLESSING NO MATTER WHAT SEX. Apparently, dinosaurs and dolls can play in perfect harmony together, no matter which sex is holding them.

    • Avatar of cassie cassie says:

      They will find out who they are regardless of society! It’s not going to hurt to tell the child they are a boy because they have a penis and testicles or a girl because she has a vagina.

  3. Avatar of Amanda Amanda says:

    That’s just asinine ! Psychos

  4. Avatar of Catherine Catherine says:

    I agree that it is child cruelty, they should have the parents psychologically examined and order parenting classes. No child should be born having to “guess” if they are a male or female, so sad.

  5. Avatar of FieryMexican FieryMexican says:

    They are keeping the gender a secret? That child is obviously a girl. As far as Storm’s brother, they can’t keep him out of school forever and I believe kids can play with each others toys but to put a dress on a boy, that’s just ridiculous! These parents need to get over the fact that they had genders which were unpleasant to them. If you wanted a girl and got a boy, suck it up! They should have done gender selection before they got pregnant. Changing your childs gender at the expense of your child, makes you an @$$ and you don’t need to have kids because, you are obviously too selfish to be breeding. To me what they are doing should be considered cruelty because, it directly affects the child’s mental state.

  6. Avatar of Ianto Ianto says:

    I was raised this way. At different times in elementary school and junior high, I made different choices, and again as a young adult.
    And now, I am happily married to someone who loves me for who I am, not the clay I wear.

    I support these parents, fully.

    • I’m really glad to hear this. I have no personal experience here so it’s unfair for me to speculate. However, I think that this is a powerful and enabling opportunity the parents have given their children, albeit, with it’s own set of consequences different than some of what typical kids have (both good and bad). If all of society caught up, this wouldn’t be a situation that caused alarm and bullying, but the Opportunity for all children to be themselves and set a new, healthier norm. Brava!

  7. Avatar of Jessica Jessica says:

    Boys were meant to be boys, and girls were meant to be girls. End of discussion. Why on earth, as a parent, would you want your child to be the opposite of what they were created to be?!?! People’s stupidity never ceases to amaze me, and by amaze, I mean disappoint. And this might upset a lot of people, but the truth is God created males to be workers outside of the home and provide, he created females to raise the children and take care of the house, work inside the home. I am not saying a female can’t work, and I know some have to, I have to. But I definitely would rather be at home with my 4 year old and 2 month old. It’s just the way it’s supposed to be. Now that doesn’t make females stupid, or unable to do anything either. Females work just as hard, just in a different way.

  8. Avatar of Sara Sara says:

    Some people just shouldn’t be allowed to breed.

  9. Avatar of brandy brandy says:

    Wow insane. I hope people that read this dont do it. No way this is mentally healthy.

  10. Avatar of Melissa Melissa says:

    Obviously it hasn’t worked out well with the five year old if he doesn’t want to go to school. He doesn’t sound very confident or comfortable with himself to me!

  11. Confused, how is it possible to raise a “genderless” child? Wouldn’t their genitalia decide if they’re going to be a male or female?

    • Avatar of FieryMexican FieryMexican says:

      It’s a new fad to hide the child’s gender and let them be “free”. I wonder if they too are “Genderless” and their daddy plays barbies with them while in dresses?

  12. Avatar of Erin Erin says:

    I kind of understand what these parents are getting at, but it’s too extreme. I think it’s healthy and appropriate to offer children of both genders a wide variety of toys and experiences, such as trucks, dolls, Legos, play kitchens, play tool benches, etc, regardless of their gender, so that they can figure out for themselves what they like. Who says boys don’t want to play with dolls, or girls don’t want to play with trucks? I saw something on Facebook that basically said, “Why don’t you want your son to play with dolls? Are you afraid that one day he might turn out to be…A DAD?! But to totally disguise the gender of a child is a really strange and confusing thing to do to the child.

    • Avatar of Sarah Sarah says:

      I totally agree with you. There is a natural preference toward the gender specific toys, but give each a chance to choose which they prefer. These parents are taking it too far.

    • Avatar of Elizabeth Elizabeth says:

      I played with trucks and guns with my brothers when I was a kid and my brothers played with dolls with me, although I much preferred the trucks and guns! I can go from girlie girl to tomboy in 2 seconds flat.

      • I think this underlines the values the Parents were trying to encourage. You are made to be exactly the way you are and unless society condemns you for it to the point you actively resist yourself, you’ll tend in that direction; otherwise people feel dissonance within themselves (which in extreme cases, typically caused by society, ends in suicide). What these parents were teaching their kids wouldn’t be strange to people if everyone adopted the same set of principles. We all preach “be yourself” but maybe it’s time to teach our kids to actually do it and not teach them to condemn others for being themselves.

  13. Avatar of Lisa Lisa says:

    This is ludicrous. Screwed up parents now raising innocent children that will end up being screwed up to. It’s so sad.

  14. Avatar of paula paula says:

    This is the most ridiculous thing I have have ever heard. This world ids confusing enough for this beautiful babies.

  15. Avatar of Emily Emily says:

    Brittany, what is disturbing is even though this is an opinion based comment section, you took it to the same low every religious extremist takes it to. What really needs to be said is the choices that the parent is making is not helping a child be boy or girl. Children and babies need us to dress them and feed them, an until they are old enough to recognize the differences of life, than we give them freedom. Yes, dress a boy in a pink polo, but put some pants on him. Put a dress on a little girl. When hormones and individuality come into play than a child’s personality will show through
    Very sad for this child that he is insecure and can’t go to school cause he is worried about being bullied.

    • Avatar of Riah Riah says:

      Thanks for this kind comment. I feel it’s most important a child knows its gender but I also feel it’s important for that child to choose their clothes and toys. My daughter is the most active rambunctious child I ever met. She loves taking things apart and playing with car and trucks just like I was but my in-laws think I’m treating and teaching her like a boy when all I’m doing is allowing her to choose what she wants to play with and dress like.

  16. Avatar of LorieAnn LorieAnn says:

    um I’m confused. Why is this even an option? why are these parents doing this to their children. And if the child is a boy, why are you dressing him as a giril? when are toddlers able to make solid mature decisons? were the parents raised this way? if not why torture your children? you are just setting your children up to being outcast instead of allowing them to grow and be strong. Also they are being called ‘IT!!!”, that alone is ridiculous. Dogs aren’t even called it!

  17. Avatar of MrsA MrsA says:

    That’s nice. Go around calling your child an “it” instead of “he” or “she.” Let’s just take the personhood out of children. Wait… that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

    Good grief. Teach your children to be strong, not to not even know whether they are boys or girls, or to confuse the rest of the world.

    When did it become a problem for the world to know whether you are a male or a female?

  18. Avatar of Adriane Adriane says:

    I hate gender stereotypes. I’m a mother of three and an Electrician working in a male dominated job. I think it’s ridiculous to hide your child’s sexual identity. In the end I think it’s going to screw the kid up more than anything else.

  19. Avatar of Chelsey Chelsey says:

    I don’t think it matters what a parent imposes on their children as far as gender is concerned. In the end, as a child grows they will find their own identity whether or not it’s the one the parents wants or not. I have two girls two years apart and I have raised them both the same. I dressed them both in girly clothes, they have feminine names, and they both have totally opposite identities as far as gender goes. My oldest refused to wear anything remotely feminine and has even told me several times she wants to be a boy. I thought it was just a phase at first, but I realize now it is who she is. She goes to school dressed in boy clothes and to my knowledge nobody cares. As for my youngest, she would she would ride a pink unicorn over the rainbow into fairy princess land if she could. Yes I dressed them like girls, but not to that extreme. Your child should be loved for the unique individual that they are becoming, and no more.

  20. Avatar of Megan Megan says:

    There is a fine line to this.
    I personally don’t like the set stereotypes for male/female.
    It’s totally driving me nuts that most things for girls are pink and related to princesses…
    I don’t think color is or should be gender specific, and as for the princess idea… there are better and more empowering ideals to raise your daughter with.

    It’s a great idea to help your child find their own identity, and not give them limits on what they can achieve to be… but not giving them some sort of guidance as to what those limitless options are, could back-fire.
    They’re kids… they have no idea what this world is about. You can teach your child that their gender is he or she, but that they’re not limited to society’s ideas of what that means.

    Again, a fine line… probably some trial and error, but hopefully the end results are an adult who knows who they are, are comfortable with it, and who exceeds through life without stereotype restrictions.

    • Avatar of Elizabeth Elizabeth says:

      It is completely revolting to walk into Target in the toys section and one isle is labeled “boys” and it has legos and trucks and army men and guns and all kinds of fun toys like that, and the next isle is labeled “girls” and absolutely EVERYTHING is all pink and princess-y. I like dresses and makeup and girly stuff but I also like trucks and guns, and power tools, but at the end of the day I’m still a woman with boobs and female genitalia and nothing can change that.

  21. Avatar of Nikki Nikki says:

    I believe that society is a bit closed minded when it comes to parenting techniques. I don’t think it’s right to have the other children lie about the babies gender. There are many children who as they grow don’t feel right in their own bodies. I think they should know their own gender and when they are older decide what works best for them. However you shouldn’t force them to chose gender specific toys either.

  22. Avatar of kdhodapp kdhodapp says:

    They aren’t groundbreaking parents. It is one thing to let your boy play with dolls or your girl play with trucks. That is the child’s decision and preference. It is another thing entirely to force your child to essentially lie to everyone around them by keeping a secret that big. It has to be confusing to the child and upsetting to be called “It” instead of he or she. It isn’t like there are other pronouns that could be used. Obviously the kid has a problem with it if “it” doesn’t want to go to school. If “it thinks kids will pick on “it” then “it” understands enough about what is happening to know there is something wrong with the situation.

  23. Avatar of Brittany Brittany says:

    This is sick and wrong. They are disgusting human beings. It is a god issue. God chose for those children to be the sex they are and those filthy people are trying to change that. They don’t deserve children.

  24. Avatar of Sara Sara says:

    We aren’t talking about parents Choosing gender, this isn’t a GOD issue! We are talking about the parents not telling others the gender of their child and giving them neutral names in some strange effort to avoid gender rolls or stereo types being imposed on to their child. It seems like there is something missing in whatever they are trying to accomplish since ” he (Jazz) elected not to start last year because he doesn’t want to get made fun of.” obviously he is not comfortable in his non-gender roll either…
    PS since when does a 5 year old get to elect to go to school or not? Parents be parents, you are responsible for the adult they become. When he elects to not get a job and elects not to contribute to society and elects to be a burden on the rest of us… that’s on you!

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