Mother Who Raised Gender-Neutral Child Called ‘Loony’ By Other Parents

boy and girl genderWhen 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.

(photo: Shutterstock)

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    • Cee

      When a child wants to be/play/act outside of their gender specific role, they usually ask for it. It’s like the boy that wants a purse, barbie, to wear pink or whatever. Or the girl who doesn’t want a dress and wants to cut her hair…usually it is the child that takes it upon themselves to ask for this. If you go to the website Born This Way where mostly gay people have a picture of themselves clearly not taking on their stereotypical gender role accompanied with an explanation, which mostly says that they ASKED their parents for a dress, for a baseball bat, or something..princess. (hah, couldn’t resist).

      This kid, however, didn’t ask for the situation. He likes pink, glitter and dolls. But that liking seems to be subjective because when you are constantly being shoved into a situation, you will take a liking to what you are handed because it is what is there. The things that he seems to like, mostly if not entirely seem to lean towards a very stereotypical girl, which is not gender neutral (wouldn’t you say oh hater of anything frilly) and could have been shoved parents who decided to conduct a social experiment with their child. THAT is what would render this extremely ridiculous and not just loony, but terrible. The child does not stand a chance to make his own decisions when he is being misguided because one thing is to raise the kid in a utopian world and another to raise him in the real world.

    • Andi

      I don’t think it’s wise or charitable or cool in any way to turn your child’s life and identity into a social experiment. Especially when s/he is too young to know what’s going on or have any say in the matter. Sorry.

    • carla

      This is kind of along the lines of how my mom raised me. I knew i was female, but when we were kids my mom made a conscious decision she was gojng to raise my sister and I “like boys”. To her, this meant she was going to be educated so we could be strong, independant thinks and kind humanitarians. We had whatever kind of clothes or toys and it really did run the gamut from girly to boyish basics. Legos, barbies, ninja turtles, bikes, and tons of make believe. We’re blue collar so its not like we had tons of stuff to begin with.

      Mom even removed the TV from the house from when I was 7-12 years old when she noticed that we rotting our brains with it too much. We read and played lots of games instead. Both of us now are college graduates. I’m working at a great startup and my sibling is wrapping up a Ph D.

      I think its really interesting that people flip out so much about the sexualization of children, but then they get crazed as well about the DE-sexualization of a small child in the first 5 years of life. The woman is right that much of gender is social construct. In the past (victorian?), little boys were dressed in pink as blue was seen as too feminine a color.

      This woman is trying to allow her child the freedom of choice for as long as she could. She has as much right to do this as others have to teach their children religion. She’s building the mental framework with that family’s ideals, ethics and morals. Is the child happy and loved? If yes, then leave them alone as you wouldn’t want your family under public scrutiny.

      • carla

        Yikes! Typos galore. Sorry. I’m on the mobile after a very long day at work.

    • mel

      It seems unfair to subject your child to bullying and teasing when they are so little because you want to do a social experiment. If your boy wants to play with Barbies, just let him! If he wants to play with Legos and Transformers, let him! if he wants to do both, let him! I liked playing with Barbies, Legos, Power Rangers, Polly Pockets, Hot Wheels, all kinds of things as a kid (I’m a girl). I never thought about my “gender identity” and no one should be putting that kind of weight on a child that young. And you may say “oh, my child should just ignore bullying and be himself!” but childhood bullying is very cruel and harder to deal with than teenage and adult bullying.

      • Shannon

        Mel, I absolutely agree!

    • Shannon

      What this article doesn’t tell you is that she does not allow her son to wear what she describes as “hyper-masculine” clothes (anything with skull print or cargo pants), but he is allowed to wear a pink, glittery bathing suit (what many would describe as ” hyper-feminine”). Also, her son attends a school wear uniforms are required. She has insisted that he wear the “girl” blouse with his pants ( he did not request this). So rather than trying to be “gender neutral”‘ all she has done is deprived him of ANY gender for the first five years of his life while trying to encourage him to be more feminine.
      And she does this to avoid “gender stereotypes”. Gender is not a stereotype. It is a matter of chromosomes.
      If she wanted to truly be gender neutral, why withhold his gender as if it were something for which to be ashamed? She still could have let him choose which toys, etc..he preferred without conveying some twisted message that he should be ashamed of his maleness. And part of our job as parents is to help condition our kids to be able to function comfortably in society. Whether she like it or not, gender IS part of society, and now he is completely unequipped to handle it.
      She is projecting her own radical feminist views on her son and has turned him into a social experiment, while subjecting him marginalizing, bullying, and a chronic feeling of “not belonging.” This poor kid.

      • Shannon

        Couple typos there in my comment….my apologies! (Stil trying to get used to this iPad!)

      • Alex @ barefootwithoutagun.blogspot.co.uk

        YES, YES, YES. Absolutely this.

    • John Wise

      What a sick couple, emotionally abusing their son to advance their Frankfurt School, Cultural Marxist agenda.

      “We will make the West so corrupt it stinks”
      - Willi Munzenburg

      They are succeeding, as shown by this disgusting story.

      • Anon

        You’re disgusting, you bigot.

        I found this story sad. I’m planning on raising my son as gender-neutral as possible.

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    • Makenna

      I’m planning on raising my son as gender-neutral as possible, though not so far as this couple went. He wants to play with My Little Pony? Fine. I don’t care if he picks out the pink tutu at the store. And as long as his hair isn’t longer than mine, I don’t care how he wears it. I dislike gender stereotyping. It irritated me when I was subjected to it. I do NOT like pink, and I did NOT want to play with dolls as a kid.

      What concerns me is if this child is happy and healthy. I hope his mother lets him choose to be more feminine.

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    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jen-Clark/100000568225513 Jen Clark

      Isn’t this the same lady that wouldn’t allow her son to wear “hyper-masculine” clothes like cargo pants and skull prints, Yet was allowed to wear dresses and girl bathing suits. And when his school required uniforms she insisted he wear the girl one? being gender neutral in my book is lets say you have a girl, and instead of shoving make up kits and cooking stations at her, you allow her to play with all toys boy or girl, wear clothes whether they be boy or girl, and introduce her to all hobbies and interest masculine or feminine. I don’t see what she did as “gender neutral”, it sounds more like gender shaming to me. Yes there are gender stereotypes, but keeping your child hidden from them as well as hiding their gender from others, and trying to force girls into being masculine and boys into being feminine, doesn’t really help and can leave them unprepared, I believe the children should make their own choices about what kind of toys and clothing they want, (within moderation of course, as in, no, my daughter won’t be getting that micro miniskirt and those 6 inch stilletos if she ever asks for them”