Parents Raising ‘Genderless’ Children

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

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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  1. Avatar of Maria Maria says:

    The Navajo practice that before a child has declared who they want to be, they must go through a ceremony, usually around puberty. Up to that time they are never referred to as “he” or “she.” They are called the first or third child or the youngest or oldest member of a family, on a day-to-day basis. However, any male-or female-born person who gives any indication as being the gender opposite their birth sex, is noted by the family and given a chance to choose how they wish to live their life. At the right time, the family invites the entire family and tribe to what we might call a naming ceremony or rite of passage ceremony. They have a big party and feast and gather sagebrush into a large circle, in the middle of which is a bow and arrow or a club and a wicker basket or a clay bowl. The child is put inside the circle and the circle is set on fire. Before the entire circle goes into a blaze, the child picks the object that defines how he or she wants to live for the rest of their life. If it is a male and he picks the clay bowl or basket, which are female items, then he becomes a she from that moment on and is taken to a hogan and dressed as a woman and named by one of the family, usually a grandmother. The opposite is true for a girl. After that time they are known by their official tribal name and work with either the women or the men. Some of these girls grew up to be great warriors or hunters.

  2. Avatar of Paula Paula says:

    Im not one to judge but this could be bad parenting bcuz not giving a gender is to me in itself confusing to the child or children. If gender was to be optional why are we born with them specific to us? Just a thought…

  3. Avatar of Katie Katie says:

    “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. ”

    I think that right there is all the proof in the world that, regardless of the parents’ intentions, this is ultimately a harmful thing to do to your children. Also, calling your child “it”? Talk about dehumanizing your child! We even refer to animals by gender.

  4. Avatar of grace grace says:

    This is weird. Is it abuse? It seems so. Why deny your child the opportunity of being the gender that they are? It’s ridiculous for these parents to have this hippy, we are all the same approach. Yes, we are all the same. But, what makes children thrive, learn, grow, and make friendships is how they can relate to other people and children. I think it’s to much pressure to be so unique and separate at such a young age. I hope that this will not cause any problems for these kids in the future.

  5. Avatar of Britney Britney says:

    I think it’s emotionally damaging because we all search for identity. Apparently the Jazz knows he is different because he is afraid others will laugh at him. Why put your child through unnecessary torture at such a young age. Give him a gender identity so he can be comfortable around other kids so he can learn the necessary social and development skills. Not giving him a identity will prove tobe more damaging. Their kids can still choose what gender they like best but also be aware of the sex they are born with. The best thing the parents can do is teach tolerance and acceptance. Taking away their gender won’t make them more open minded whereas education about gender roles and sexuality will.

  6. Avatar of Jennifer Jennifer says:

    I don’t think that’s a heathy approach to genderless parenting. I’m raising my daughter to be a decent person, not to be a prissy fainting violet but by all means she will be a lady. She will have the life skills to thrive and adapt.

  7. Avatar of Stacy Stacy says:

    This is some crazy thinking. Really, you are the gender you are born…who they chose to be when they get older is a whole different topic. These people are so small minded in so many ways. Irregardless of what you tell or don’t tell your children, they will be who they want to be unless someone steals their innocence away!

  8. Avatar of Dyanna Dyanna says:

    To me, this is ridiculous. I am all for allowing your child to develop without “pushing” them into one thing or another but genders are necessary! Hiding your gender is, in my opinion, absurd and sets a dangerous precedent. If the child was comfortable with his decisions, he would not be afraid to go to school. This is very bad parenting as far as I am concerned.

  9. Avatar of Doris Doris says:

    Ok, First of all the male decides the gender (sex) of the baby. The infant’s plumbing which starts developing while in the womb is what will ensure if this child is a boy or girl upon delivery. To say you will raise children of non gender is a pipe dream. Did the delivering doctor sign those birth certificates? Sure they did. Bet they also list the Gender..of your children. The only part of this I do agree with is that “kids are kids” toys are toys and colors are colors. Kids should be able to choose what they like the best. These are age appropriate choices they should be making. Not do I want to be a boy or a girl ? What does a five year old know about sexual preferences? If he ever visits a zoo and watches 2 animals mating are you going to teach him that all animals have no gender? I really don’t think you have thought this out into the long term. There will come a time mentally and emotionally when kids can explore and weigh out options and what works out for them, to make them happy. You are the parents, it’s not about you and you in the spotlight. This is about kids. Young kids who should be enjoying being just a kid. Your jobs are to give them the tools over the time you have with them for them to then take those tools and build their own lives their own way. I just feel like you are forcing them in a way into this “freedom” you as parents decided on. It’s the opposite extreme of what you say you are trying to prevent. Children learn from watching you. They also want to please parents especially at the age of 5. I guess my point is that they are both way too young to understand or choose any of what you are handing them.

    • Avatar of Doris Doris says:

      Gender by the way refers to the body type you are given. Not what your mind,emotions or heart try to tell you. So actually the parents are off base hear because one thing they want to protect them from is what nobody can control. Except yourself and that can also fall short.

  10. Avatar of Erin Erin says:

    This to me is disgusting and more proof of how fast our society and morals are decaying, so sad. Poor children.

  11. Avatar of Andrea Andrea says:

    This is TERRIBLE! How can any parent in their “Right” mind think this is ok to do to a child!! I think the Parents need mental Help!!!

  12. Avatar of samantha samantha says:

    I don’t see why someone would do this to their children. god creates both females and males for a reason and its not to pretend that we dont have a gender

  13. Avatar of Tracie Tracie says:

    The whole idea is sick.

  14. Avatar of Africa Africa says:

    I can even see…maybe…keeping the gender “secret” for a week or two, to just celebrate life and health. But after that, it really is the parents who are magnifying an issue they wish to diminish, as stated in the article. Besides, life is confusing and hard enough without wishing nature Wasn’t.

  15. Avatar of Susan Susan says:

    I can see not doing the whole pink or blue thing but not even saying if you had a boy or a girl? Seems a little extreme

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. Avatar of Amanda Amanda says:

    That’s just asinine ! Psychos

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. Avatar of Sara Sara says:

    Some people just shouldn’t be allowed to breed.

  24. Avatar of brandy brandy says:

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