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.  

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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.”

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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?

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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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182 comments

  1. Can’t we just let kids be kids? Kids are forced to grow up so quickly nowadays and with all the horrible things going on in the world today, let them worry about gender identity later.

  2. That’s not quite the same thing, I dressed tom-boyish as a kid too and played sports year-round, but I also loved playing with barbies and having tea parties 🙂

  3. Profile photo of Erika Erika says:

    Gender, like culture, defines who we are, our values and belief systems. I don’t fault the patents for wanting to protect their children from the often damaging, narrow and perpetuating gender ideology out society bestows upon us. However, this is not a proactive way to protect our children; in fact it is taking something that is inherent as our American belief in freedom. Why not, instead teach our children about the importance of individuality and empower them, as male or female, to be the best human they can be? Teach them gender defines us only inasmuch as we want it to. We are fortunate to live in an era of unprecedented opportunity, even for those considered minorities, in which we can choose not to limited by gender and the responsibility to, hopefully, one day defy or create change in societal weaknesses, such as, that of what it means to be a man or a woman. I think this question can very well be and should answered on an individual bases; why not teach them this instead?

  4. If the child and parents are truly entirely happy and comfortable with their decision to live that way then why be bothered by possibly being made fun of?

  5. Profile photo of Shelly Platz Shelly Platz says:

    Why would anyone do this to their child? Life is hard enough without MAKING your child different!

  6. Profile photo of Sabine Sabine says:

    The fact that he doesn’t want to go school because of this says it all. He is definitely not comfortable with the way he is raised as a "genderless" person. He is probably made fun of a lot already. He is a miserable child from what I see and the parents should wake up.

  7. The last story I heard about something like this ended up un suicide! PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS TO YOUR BABY!! A boy is a BOY no matter what you dress him like and you are burdening him with extra load he will not know how to handle. The same thing with a girl she is a GIRL no matter what! We need to think parents are here to help children not to make life more complicated!!!

  8. This is insane. There is no such thing. It’s either a girl or boy. There is a difference and if it’s a girl brought up as a boy, or boy brought up as a girl, there will such misery. Let them pick?? you gotta be kidding. They are what they are.

  9. Profile photo of Brittney Brittney says:

    I’m all for having a child be happy for who they are, but this just seems like it is making this child more insecure then it is helping him. I don’t want my son to be only known for one thing in his life, but knowing he is a boy is one thing he should know in my opinion. i’m just going to teach him not to judge people for their gender among lots of other things, but this route is definitely not for us.

  10. Profile photo of youngmom92 youngmom92 says:

    I totally agree with you! That is the only reason why a parent would hide whatever is in the child’s underpants. The children are going to grow up insecure and depressed because of how other people are treating them. It might be so bad that they start hurting themselves or even take there life!

  11. Profile photo of SammysMOMMY SammysMOMMY says:

    their situation makes me question if the kids are hermaphrodites!

  12. Profile photo of Jessica Jessica says:

    I do the same thing with my daughter. I dress her n boy and girl clothes. Often think she is a boy but I just ignore it. Once she is older she can pick whatever clothes she wants to wear. Mix and match; I don’t care.

  13. Profile photo of dschlitter dschlitter says:

    That all sounds very strange to me. It’s one thing to let your child be comfortable with who they are , but to simply ignore their gender is very odd to me. Clearly it’s not working if the child is too scared to go to school. I think they are doing way more harm than good. These parents are making gender a bad thing, so how will these children ever be comfortable with who they are.

  14. Profile photo of Kelly Kelly says:

    Totally not appropriate. The kid should be in school, he’s not the parent and the parent needs to be the parent. That’s an issue with society, kids are more in control than the parents. Without an identity, how will the children be able to stand up for themselves? Keeping their gender secret? Sounds like the parents are more concerned and worried and not sure how to help their children to be strong and secure in who they are. They are creating situations that will be more difficult for the children later on and especially when they mature. They will need counseling later on, potentially more depressed and could be mad at their parents. They may feel powerless to self defend, low self worth. Kids are going to be picked on anyways and a parent, I think, would want their child to be strong in their identity, whatever gender they are. This is not helping the children to be strong in their identity. Immature of the parents.

  15. I was wondering the same thing about how a five yr old is "Choosing" to not go to school!!! Is he/she being homeschooled instead or just missing out on his/her education because their mom is afraid of what’s in their underwear???

  16. Profile photo of Brandie Brandie says:

    Totally don’t agree. Look down, what do you see? Penis? Boy. Vagina? Girl. Can’t get anymore obvious.

  17. Profile photo of Danielle Danielle says:

    This is ridiculous. This choice in parenting is not for me. My daughter wears plenty of Buzz and brown and green monkeys and is called a boy based on her outfit. I don’t however hide the fact that she has a vagina and I certainly wouldn’t want to make a big thing about hiding it from her…it’s HER body! She was just as pleased to find that as she was to discover that she has a bellybutton. If you make something taboo, it will be taboo forever. And, to repeat Amy, how does a five year old "decide" whether or not to attend school?!?!?! My mom would have pushed me out the car door and waved bye as she drove off…haha

  18. Profile photo of diana diana says:

    These parents that are doing this need their heads checked. This is wrong and I feel bad for the children that this happens to. Children get bullied enough sadly why add to it?

  19. I dont agree with this at all. They are obviously effecting their children in a negative way if a 5 year old is already that self conscious and being worried about being picked on. That should be the last thing on a 5 year olds mind. You can still let your children have freedom without having to make them completely confused. I have a lot of family and all the boys and girls play with whatever they pick up whether a boy picks up a doll or a girl is playing in the mud with a truck what does it matter. All my family has been this way and all the kids have grown up happy and secure with who they are as an individual. Children need some sort of guidance though that is our job as parents to help them mold into a secure and happy adult. I think they are trying to do a good thing but causing more harm than good for their children.

  20. Profile photo of Amy Amy says:

    It’s insane. And how does a kid decide not to start school.

  21. Profile photo of Kevryn Kevryn says:

    I dont think this is healthy for the children. I dont think you should have to force anything on your children but they are children and not ready to make life changing decisions yet. he is going to grow up really confused about who he is and where he belongs in the world

  22. Profile photo of marylove marylove says:

    I don’t think it’s abuse but I don’t think it’s smart either… They are keeping their children from being who they are. They are going to really get confused as they get older, like it isn’t already confusing enough anymore. Their 5 year old already doesn’t want to go to school so he doesn’t get made fun of! That’s pretty bad if he understands that already!

  23. Ummmmm that is just weird…I am not opposed to boys playing with girl stuff or vice versa but they should know their identity and trust in the fact if they want to change it when they get older they will!!! People do some really twisted th
    ings to their kids…I’m sure this mom probably still breastfeeds the 5 yr old boy, who essentially thinks he is a girl and has opted to not go to school for fear of being made fun of!! Thanks Mom as if bullying wasn’t enough of an epidemic!!! Smh this just makes no sense!!

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