Monday, May 30, 2011

Gender and Children

The Internet, TV and radio are all abuzz with the story of parents who are not disclosing the gender of their child to the world.

I am not surprised that mainsteam America and Canada are having the reaction that they are (Which range from "Eew!" to "Child Abuse!") But I was even saddened to see that on the Mothering Magazine boards people did not agree with the parents' actions. After all, these are attachment parents (like me!) all over the world, but many of them still hold on the fragile ideals of stereotypical, Western, hyper-emphasized masculinity and femininity.

I have written about this before. It bears repeating: I believe that raising my son with a gender-free agenda for as long as possible is key to him becoming fully human. The only difference between me and that couple in Canada is that I sometimes tell people that Rowan is a boy after they "girl" him, just to mess with their heads. Sometimes I let their mistake slide- after all, it is their gender baggage not mine. We do not have to carry their luggage, if you know what I mean.

I also wrote a bit about gender and raising my son for the Blog Carnival of Natural Parenting this year. I also reviewed a book about raising a transgender kid- a great book for EVERYONE, regardless of how you or your kids identify.

As parents, we have so much influence in our kid's lives. I think we owe it to them to educate ourselves and think before we try and mold them into something that may not suit them. My kid may be transsexual or cissexual (and I will not know for years) or he could be heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual (and again I will not know right away). He may also like "masculine" or "feminine" pursuits. If I started sending him the message regulating his behavior, gender conformity, and sexuality and he turns out to be something other than what I was socializing him to be- well, that alienates my son from me, hurts his well-being, and makes his life unhappy and harder. As his mom, I love him- no matter what. So we are keeping our options open.

A while back I posted this video of a lullaby that we sing to Rowan almost every night. It bears repeating at this time as well.


  1. Great post. A friend posted the article about the child in question on her facebook and titled it "The sickest story I ever heard." Needless to say, she had I had a big discussion.

    Her point of view was basically saying gender was god given and was bring great bits of her religious beliefs into it, instead of looking at it objectively. It's infuriating for me. But we ended up dropping the subject to agree to disagree.

  2. Seems to me that you can be supportive of whatever your child's gender identity and interests may be without making big deal about what their physical gender is: either by enforcing conformity or hiding it from others.

    From my time at Mothering, I learned that Attachment Parenting is done by folks who come in all political, religious, and philosophical flavors.

  3. Hey there, Anonymous!

    Your argument parallels what a lot of people say about gays: "They can do what they like as long as they are not 'in my face' about it." I disagree. These parents happened to have been asked by the media to explain themselves and they did. It went viral because of our culture's OBSESSION with gender and conformity.

    I agree- AP parents come in all flavors. I just wish that folks that spend so much time investigating and educating themselves on vaccines, cribs, diapers, and discipline would also spend as much time looking at how artificial the way we do gender is.

  4. I'm all for them letting their children choose their gender expression, and identity. I just think that they're only hiding the child's sex. They've picked a gender identity, as legitimate as masculine or faminine: androgyny.

    I guess I don't understand the need to hide the sex to allow gender freedom. Societal ideas will always have to be confronted at some point. Personally I'd rather do it naturally as children grow, right from the start.

    But in fairness, I wouldn't accuse them of child-abuse, either. That's ridiculous.


Comments are welcome but moderated. Please be respectful when leaving a comment.