So a Toronto couple has decided to keep their baby’s gender a secret. Only Storm’s immediate family knows what’s between Storm’s squidgy legs. Is it any wonder this story recently went viral? That the baby’s name is Storm should tell you all you need to know… Well-intentioned parents land a truly crackpot idea and decide to run with it. Their hope is that people will get to know Storm as a person, not a gender. And while the ideology behind the decision is laudable, the reality of a ‘sexless’ baby is laughable.
Unfortunately for Storm and his parents, we don’t live in a genderless society. And I’m not sure we totally want to. As a parent, which would you rather give your child: a limited window of freedom from oppressive stereotypes, or a guaranteed (and much longer) period of bullying and harassment? Frankly, I know which I would choose. After all, you don’t want to raise a sheep who will do whatever it takes to conform to the herd. But by the same token, no one wants to be the black sheep, either.
By the time poor little Storm reaches school age, presumably he/she will be ostracized from his/her peers, as will his cross-dressing older brothers. It’s no secret just how cruel and adept kids are when it comes to seeking out difference. Think of it as a bruise jabbed over and over again.
Case in point: I remember a girl at elementary school who was bullied. Her suffering was daily and relentless. Even though there was nothing obviously ‘wrong’ with her, somewhere along the way somebody or other had decided that this girl (I’ll call her Katie) carried with her those infamous invisible germs known as ‘cooties’. Every recess kids ran around tagging each other, shouting ‘Katie’s cooties’, further spreading her plague.
I have no doubt that there is a Katie in every school. And, having been teased myself, I can only imagine her agony. School is a gory enough battlefield without adding a fresh layer of ritualistic torture to each day. High school must have come as a tremendous relief to Katie, a proper do-over. Talk about chrysalis.
Better to get your child used to dealing with the cruelty of inequality early on, I say, because — like it or not — it is ingrained in every institution from preschool to the funeral parlour. Better still, encourage your child to excel in school, so he/she can push for real (legislative) change.
I fear that cooties may be the least of Storm and Co’s worries. That’s not to say that boys shouldn’t be caught dead wearing pink — or pigtails, for that matter — just that the fallout may not really be worth the short-lived perks of living la vie en rose.
Julie M Green (aka Little Green Mom) is a novelist and freelance writer who rants and raves about all things mommy at Little Green One. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two-year-old son, Jackson. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter.