Central to parents’ concept of their unborn children, gender is something that most moms and dads to-be can’t wait to discover, usually choosing to learn their baby’s sex well before delivery day. “Is it a boy or girl?” is undoubtedly the question most frequently aimed at expectant mothers around the world, so it’s no wonder that Toronto parents Kathy Witterick and David Stocker are sparking an international debate about the meaning of gender, identity, and the ideological values some parents place on their children.
In an unorthodox approach to parenting, the couple is refusing to reveal the sex of their four-month-old child, Storm, in an attempt to protect the infant from societal stereotyping. First revealed to the world in the controversial Toronto Star article titled “Parents keep child’s gender secret” by reporter Jayme Poisson on May 21st, 2011, dad David Stocker says, “If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs.” The couple is not only withholding the child’s gender from pupils, but even from the child’s own grandparents. Poisson reports, “The only people who know are Storm’s brothers, Jazz, 5, and Kio, 2, a close family friend and the two midwives who helped deliver the baby.” Storm is now the only recorded infant in Canada with ambiguous genitalia. “Please can you just let Storm discover for him/herself what s(he) wants to be?!” Witterick is quoted as writing in an email to The Star.
The parents decision not to disclose Storm’s sex is a result of their eldest sons, Jazz and Kio, being singled out by both playmates and adults for their keenness toward toys and clothing generally looked upon as girly; painting their fingernails pink, and even wearing their long hair in braids. “Jazz and Kio are almost exclusively assumed to be girls,” says Stocker, adding “What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children. It’s obnoxious.”
While Witterick and...