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

Tell us what you think!


  1. This is just wrong. I agree with you all. Not only is he going to be confused when he hits puberty; he is already obviously confused. This is not how a 5 year old should be spending his childhood. Just Ridiculous.

  2. Tatianna says:

    Poor child doesn’t even want to go to school! That should be your first clue! They are scared and confused. God made man and woman. That’s how it should be! I understand pink and blue, maybe dolls and trucks, but your gender is part of your identity and should be explained to a child, that they should be proud and have that confidence, instead of making them keep a secret from everyone. They are going to be so frustrated their entire life! I pray for these parents to help this child explain the difference and to be proud no matter what you are.

  3. Candice says:

    This is ridiculous. Boys and girls play with each others toys. Its not always a preference Kids will play with whatever you give them. I f a child grows up only playing with a box and is never exposed to playing with anything else they will content with playing with that box. You shouldn’t ask your children to hide secrets for you. Secrets are an adult idea and can be harmful to children. Children by nature until a certain age tell the truth sometimes with brutality because that’s all they know.These people are teaching there children at way to young an age that it is OK to be deceptive. I have always thought it a great thing that kids do say the darnedest things because they say whats on there mind no qualms about it. Let children be who they are, I f you want to dress your children in non gender clothing OK. But don’t make them lie for you that is hurting your children. when kids go to school they want to fit in and be played with just like everyone else for the most part they don’t care if its a boy or a girl they are playing with but they don’t want to be confused either. Kids have it hard enough let them be themselves and they will figure out the rest with support and guidance not lies. When i was a child a played with trucks and GI JOE’s because i thought those toys were cool, did it change or confuse me Nope. My son has very thick curly hair which he keeps shorter now because it is earlier to manage but for many years (until he had to take care of it himself) it was kept long and everyone thought he was a girl no matter what clothes i put him in. For the first few years i thought my child is going to have some sort of weird complex because of this but he and i liked it long so we kept it that way. My son is now a normal 13 year old who dresses how he wants and has his hair how he wants and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. In the long run that is what it all boils down to, if you don’t care they won’t care, Just teach your child to be confident in who they are and not what they are and they will go far.

  4. Jessica says:

    So, how are they going to decide on what clothes to put on that baby to keep the gender a secret? A child shouldn’t have to keep there gender secret just as they shouldn’t have to keep there preference hidden either.

  5. Asmoday says:

    this is horrible. Boys are boys, and girls are girls. This whole androgyny proliferation of society is getting out of hand. What’s everyone supposed to say? “oh how nice! That’s a good thing for kids to decide whether they’re a boy or girl!” It’s everywhere now. Transgender this, transgender that. Can’t people see there’s an agenda attached to this? onlyin America. Wake up idiots!
    Furthermore, shame shame shame on those parents. Transgender is a very rare medical condition/disorder. Its a psychological or hormonal (or both) disease!! Not a cute “oh little billy wants to wear a dress for Halloween”. Wtf is wrong with people? This transgender crap isn’t about tolerance, It’s about indoctrination.

    • Lilly says:

      Identifying as Transgender is NOT a medical condition, disorder, mental illness, disease, or etc. The fact that you would even consider the fact of calling it that is extremely childish. Also, being a Transgender person is not an act of indoctrination. It is simply an act of people rising up and showing who they truly are and being proud of it. People who are like you are the reason why so many people have never come forward to talk about how they feel. I can only hope that you don’t raise any child to be like this either.

  6. DianeCass says:

    First of all, naming a child Storm is already a hint that these parents tend to go against the norm. The world is already full of challenges and problems – so why create a new one for your child. Let them be children for as long as they can. Give them a chance to get a running start! Teaching little ones to keep a secret about their sex is absolutely cruel as well as confusing.

  7. Sonja says:

    A human brain, regardless of sex, is not fully developed until the age of 24. Until such time, we reach full maturity, we are unable to fully comprehend the long-term consequences of our actions. If you’ve ever raised/been close to a young adult you do not need to hold a PhD to recognize this. As a 44-year-old mother of 3, I am willing to admit to making bad choices based on lack of experience and/or an emotional state. All that said, how can we expect a toddler/pre-school child to comprehend this train of thought. Furthermore, teaching a child to lie—and this is no little white lie—goes against human values/mores!

    I am not close-minded.My daughter has two trans-gender friends and she herself explored bi-sexuality in college. It wasn’t something I fully understood and at times I completely disagreed with the reasons behind their decisions. Yet, I learned to completely support these pre-teen/young adults during the stage of self-expression, experimentation and choice to explore gender roles. Whether the stage is long-term or short, traditional teenage trauma (ex: a hetro-sexual break up, not making the team, sex vs. abstinence) or a question of gender identify, it is vital to support a child, as you would any of these emotional situations,. Keep in mind, experiments are often just that. Gender exploration, could simply be a form of sexual discovery, or a way to challenge the status quo, an act of teenage rebellion and even an attempt to part of the “hip crowd”. But it could actually become a long-term choice. Regardless of reason, short-term or life-long, our job as parents, care givers and role models is to provide consistent love, support and gentle honesty. It’s okay to disagree, be confused even shocked. Rather than judge and react like a kindergarten student and laugh, simply ask questions. I promise it will be uncomfortable initially for everyone. When emotions prevent understanding or even tolerance, find a support group (yep, they’re out there), family therapist, etc. and work through the issues together.Remember you are the adult. Your limbic system is fully developed. Now is the time to set a good example and aim to create intelligent, tolerant and honest adults; because society needs more people like that. No matter where they fall on the gender spectrum.

  8. 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.

  9. 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…

  10. 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.

    • Lilly says:

      The parents would more than likely not call their child “It” or have any others call the children
      “It”. They would most likely have the children be labeled with They/Them pronouns.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

    • 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.

  17. Erin says:

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

  18. 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!!!

  19. 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

  20. Tracie says:

    The whole idea is sick.

  21. 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.

  22. 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

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

    • 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.

  25. Amanda says:

    That’s just asinine ! Psychos

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