Archives for posts with tag: genderless

After our discussion on David Valentine’s book on the category of transgender and the complicated, and sometimes contradictory, identities people claim, I continued to think about our obsession with categorization. It’s as if we have to place every aspect of the corporeal experience into a special identified place where anyone can read the definition and understand all the complexities of a given individual.

I instantly thought of baby Storm, the genderless child in Canada.

Looking at this new clip, I can’t help but grow utterly annoyed with people. I’m aware the idea of a genderless child can be hard to handle in a society where the first comment made about a newborn’s body is it’s gender (“It’s a boy/girl!”), but that what’s her name from The View would claim keeping a child’s gender a secret is selfish, the  apparent expert psychologist arguing the child could be emotionally scarred by choosing his/her gender, and the overall demand to know which of the binary genders the baby had to be… oh damn damn damn

The Gender Studies Isopod is so wise

It irritates me that people have this urge to categorize each other even when the situation affects them in no way. So many people are throwing a tizzy because they don’t know the gender of a baby they’ll probably never meet, and even if they were to meet Storm they would still be unaffected. As Storm grows, he/she will learn gender from the world around him/her and Storm will have a gender that suits him/her the best. I couldn’t imagine this child growing up into an adult who’s emotionally damaged because their parents allowed him/her to decide what was best for him/herself.

This goes back to transgender and how Valentine, for example, described his confusion at a male bodied individual who identified as a man, lived as a woman, and claimed to be gay could embody all these contradictory identities simultaneously. Identity is a complex combination of so many experiences, inclinations, and desires that to believe binaristic categories are enough to explain one’s corporeality is farfetched to say the least.

-Lucas Z

As we read sections from Natalie Angier’s Woman: An Intimate Geography and discussed our own experiences with being gendered as children (stemming from Angier’s discussion of female aggression), I was reminded of an article I read earlier this summer. The article details Canadian couple, Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, who have chosen not to share the gender of their 4-month-old baby, Storm. And the couple’s older children, Jazz and Kio, are given all the elbow room they want to experiment with their own gender presentation and performance- as evidenced by 5-year-old Jazz, who chooses to wear his hair long and, in the article, shares his excitement over the recent acquisition of a pink dress from Value Village. Both he and Kio “are encouraged to challenge how they’re expected to look and act based on their sex.”

Witterick and Stocker have been the brunt of countless criticisms since sending out Storm’s birth announcement, in which they explain: “We’ve decided not to share Storm’s sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s lifetime (a more progressive place?)..” Most of this criticism was focused on an imagined future of bullying and ridicule from Storm, whereas some centered on how Kathy and David are “imposing their ideological and political values on a newborn.” Witterick and Stocker defend their choice, however, saying that they “believe they are giving their children the freedom to choose who they want to be, unconstrained by social norms about males and females.

Witterick and Stocker certainly have reasoning behind their unusual decision. As they have witnessed with their two older children, “The moment a child’s sex is announced, so begins the parade of pink and barrage of blue.” In fact, when the family took a trip to Cuba and decided that, for the sake of language barriers, it would be easier to assign Storm a random gender (male, decided via coin flip), the language others used around the infant was radically altered- people commented on ‘his’ size and strength, but certainly would’ve gravitated to something along the lines of “pretty little princess” (barf) had they been led to believe the opposite. This parallels Angier’s experience with her daughter in playgroup- while male and female children behaved similarly, their actions were interpreted (naturalized, normalized, or not) in a strictly gendered way by the adults (parents) in the room.

The genderless baby idea isn’t new- Stocker first got the idea from the 1978 book X: A Fabulous Child’s Story, which depicted a child raised not as male or female but simply as X. And though I felt initially skeptical about the whole shebang- after all, it seems dangerously close to social experimentation with one’s own progeny- I definitely respect what this family is attempting to do. After all, if individuals aren’t constantly queering the common-held (and intensely limiting) beliefs about gender, then those beliefs aren’t going to change. And not that I ever plan on having children of my own (ever, ever, ever), but IF I DID, I would raise my children as children instead of little boys and girls.

-Blair Dietrick