Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Thoughts on Raising a Genderless Child

The story of the parents not disclosing the gender of their child has been making the rounds the past couple weeks, and it really struck a chord with me especially because people keep mistaking Nia for a boy.

Almost weekly someone out and about refers to Nia as "he/him" or tells me how cute my little boy is. To me, Nia has a feminine look especially with her curly eyelashes and long, slender finger, but if I put her in blue and it's super humid her afro curls up and I can see how she looks like a boy then (and only then). Before Nia was born I was determined not to dress Nia in pink, but we were gifted so many pink articles of clothing that I can't help but dress her in them. One thing I've really stuck to is not buying pink/girly toys for Nia. I visited Target recently for a child's birthday gift and was so annoyed to see the super pink/domestic/dolly aisle contrasted with the blue and gray/tools/car aisle. So far Nia's toys have all been gender neutral, and I intend to keep it that way.

Getting back to the article, I can totally understand why the parents want to free their children from the trappings of gender especially with the disparity of gender differences in science and math. Having come from a single sex education from 8th grade through college I believe this really impacted my self esteem and confidence in these areas in particular.

Some of the article's comments blasted the parents for doing a "social experiment" on their child and chided them for the ill-effects they believed it would cause. I think the dissonance of not knowing the gender post-birth is the same that is felt by friends and family pre-birth when expectant parents choose "Team Green"  - they decide not to know the sex of the child until the birth of the child.

Another interesting distinction is that the article title uses "gender" when it's really the sex of the child that isn't being disclosed. According to Webster's Dictionary sex refers to male and female from a biological perspective while gender refers to the behavioral, cultural or psychological traits associated with each sex.

Ultimately, I think that these parents are within their right to not disclose the sex of their child and that it speaks volumes about society's issues with sex and gender that it makes so many people uncomfortable.

1 comment:

  1. I have the same problem with Marlie. Her hair is short and even at her age (21 months) she prefers to wear t-shirts and shorts over dresses. People call her cute little guy all the time. It used to make me mad since her features are so clearly girlie. Now I don't even bother to correct them because we will prob never see them again and who cares anyway? I am baffled as to why gender norms are so important for society. we could use some more tomboys and metrosexuals.