By Jayme Poisson, Toron to Star, May 21, 2011
The neighbours know (Kathy) Witterick and her husband, David Stocker, are raising a genderless baby. But they don’t pretend to understand it.
While there’s nothing ambiguous about Storm’s genitalia, they aren’t telling anyone whether their third child is a boy or a girl.
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 in a birthing pool at their Toronto home on New Year’s Day.
“When the baby comes out, even the people who love you the most and know you so intimately, the first question they ask is, ‘Is it a girl or a boy?’” says Witterick, bouncing Storm, dressed in a red-fleece jumper, on her lap at the kitchen table.
“If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs,” says Stocker.
It is not only the neighbours who do not understand. The rest of the world will be left in a conundrum about both the motives of the parents and the gender of the child very soon. As soon as the child enters a day-care or nursery, the people looking after her/him will want to know; the children playing with him/her will want to know and they may not be very subtle in the way in which they find out.
Calling the baby "Storm" is a predictor of the kind of turbulence that will be generated by her/his presence, should the parents continue their little game.
Genderless child, could well be an editorial statement about the conflict between the genders in their home city of Toronto, Canada. It could well be a highly ethical motivation that seeks to set an example for everyone to treat each other without the "bias" of gender interferring with the perception of who the child "is."
Dressing the child in gender-neutral clothes may be quite easy and simple for the first few years of the child's life, but the game has a minimum of a three-to-four-year life span.
Another obvious irony in this situation is that both parents and both siblings know, so their preconceived perceptions of "gender" identity are built in to the family home. One wonders if this not a little game, a little sociological experiment, designed and executed by the parents for their own goals of perhaps attempting to generate a more genderless society.
As a symbol of a genderles society, perhaps there is some legitimacy to the "experiment". There is certainly a very clear motive and, one has to presume, a fairly strong conviction on the part of the parents that this the right thing to do. However, let's watch over the next few years to see what happens to the plan, and how quickly it gives way to society's imposing its own perceptions both on the child and on the family.