When Beck Laxton and partner Kieran Cooper had their baby Sasha, they decided to raise a gender neutral child. The parents didn’t ask midwives about the gender of the child until 30 minutes after the birth. The mom and dad also decided to not reveal the baby’s sex to anyone outside the family to avoid gender stereotyping. But some recent circumstances having to do with other parents have them releasing the sex of their child after five years.
The couple doesn’t have a television in the home and they purchase only gender-neutral toys. Sasha wears both girls’ and boy clothes, happily engaging with playmates of either sex. The kid enjoys playing with both LEGOs and dolls, yet Beck says that when her child started primary school she became known as that “that loony woman who doesn’t know whether her baby is a boy or a girl.”
The family realized that keeping Sasha’s gender from the other teachers and the prying eyes, not to mention attitudes, of other parents would forever be an uphill battle now that the kid had entered primary school. And so now, the couple has announced that they have son.
Sasha’s mother says that the treatment from other mothers was less than warm:
“…I could never persuade anyone in the group to come around for coffee. They just thought I was mental.”
But she maintains that she saw the first five years of Sasha’s life as a true opportunity to present him with interests that were not sanctioned by gender. She adds that she has no regrets on the genderless utopia that she was able to construct in her home:
“I don’t think I’d do it if I thought it was going to make him unhappy, but at the moment he’s not really bothered either way. We haven’t had any difficult scenarios yet…Gender affects what children wear and what they can play with, and that shapes the kind of person they become.”
Dr. Daragh McDermott told The Telegraph that parenting is only one way by which children find their way to gender identity anyway:
“…the family setting is only one source of gender-specific information and as children grow, their self-identity as male, female or gender-neutral will be influenced by school, socialisation with other children and adults, as well as mass media. As a child grows they develop their own independent sense of self that will include their own individual gender identification.”
Working around people’s gendered expectations of children simply by omitting that information only asks that everyone consider the child’s interests and habits before their gender — a far from “loony” request. A love of frilly tops, baby dolls, or even Disney princesses don’t ultimately shape the girl into being a girl — or a boy for that matter.