The Genderless Baby Debate: My Opinion

July 27, 2011

I’m still on hiatus (AKA mostly permanent leave of absense from this blog), but I had some thoughts about something I don’t feel like I could express anywhere else currently, seeing as I think here is the place I’ve ranted on about my opinions on “big” things the most.

If you don’t know about Storm Stoker, google can easily tell you their story. Storm is a baby being raised by their (I choose to use “their” instead of him/her because quite frankly, there are many more gender identities in the world than simply male or female and I feel it would be inadequate to try and force someone who may fall outside of that gender binary to fall into it) parents to be “genderless”. This means that they are keeping Storm’s biological sex secret with the exception of a few select people (Storm’s two brothers and some others- hey, that rhymes).

This story has been met with plenty of backlash (just read the comments on any of those articles google finds you). People have said that this child is being set up for teasing. People have said that this is just going to confuse Storm. People have said that this child is going to grow up to be the social construction of whatever their birth certificate says regardless and that this is just pointless and unnecessary.

I personally have done plenty of research and thinking about gender (pretty much every day) and it’s different expressions and identities and so on in the past several months since an anti-bullying PSA I was assigned back in February and the friends I was working with and I were talking about different reasons that someone may get bullied. Gender expression was one of them, and although we changed our PSA topic and made an anti-suicide/depression awareness video instead, I thought maybe, considering my dreams of becoming Prime Minister, I should educate myself on the diversity there is out there.

This is pretty much a mishmash of my thoughts on this news story. Please forgive any spelling errors and the fact that this isn’t really edited and being in point form.

– In defence of being set up to be called “it” or being teased- Storm’s parents aren’t raising the baby to feel as though they have to keep being genderless all of their life. Storm will choose when they feel ready who they feel that they are.

– Are you calling people who actually identify as genderless or neutrois or genderqueer or androgynous or people who were born intersex (commonly refered to as “hermaphrodites”) living social experiments? Would you call a person of a “minority” race a living social experiment? We are all individuals, and no human experience is the same- we are all, in our own way, different. We each have the oppourtunity to step out into the world every single day- who are you to say that one kind of different (which does not in fact hurt anyone unless you choose) is worse than another kind of different? And I’ve said so many times that all that should really matter about someone in regards of respect is the mere fact that we’re all earthlings- we breathe the same air and see the same sky and moon and stars. We know what it feels like to be alive, and we are all valid. We are human beings, and we should be treated with respect as such.

– Technically, by growing up in these gender binaries (male and female), we are living social experiments. Each generation challenges them more and more. There once was a time when women weren’t allowed to wear pants. Where it was considered the natural thing to do. Where women weren’t allowed to be dominant political or familial figures. And we are still living in a society where men can’t wear dresses (with the exception of kilts, and even then I’ve heard a fair bit of people in my own culture teasing that kilts are womanly) and where the clothes section of the store and the public bathrooms and the toys available with McDonald’s happy meals are segregated by gender. Even bicycles, and hats, which in principle have nothing to do with gender, are labeled “men’s” and “women’s”.

– “We are all born naked and the rest is just drag.” (Honestly I don’t know where I first heard this quote so apologies for lack of credit.) We weren’t born with makeup on our faces or a pair of boxers on our… well, parts. Who are you to say that the shape of someone’s genetalia should determine who they should be?

– Let’s imagine Storm is biologically female. If you are so confident with the idea that Storm will grow up preferring pink, liking to have long hair, a nurturer, or whatever else the picture of “girl” is that we’ve painted is- then why are you so afraid of being proven wrong? If Storm chooses that this is the image that best aligns with their picture of who they are, then Storm will choose this. And maybe you could be right. And Storm’s parents are open to whoever their child decides to be.
Let’s imagine Storm is biologically male. If you are so confident with the idea that Storm will grow up preferring blue, liking to have short hair, a provider, or whatever else the picture of “boy” is that we’ve painted is- then why are you so afraid of being proven wrong? If Storm chooses that this is the image that best aligns with their picture of who they are, then Storm will choose this. And maybe you could be right. And Storm’s parents are open to whoever their child decides to be.
Let’s imagine Storm’s gender identity falls beyond “male” or “female”. Let’s imagine that deep down, Storm feels as though they are honestly someone without a gender identity, or neutrois (gender-neutral), or androgynous (a combination of male and female), or bigender (sometimes feeling male, sometimes feeling female)? Or some other sort of gender-variant human being? Then Storm recieved the knowledge when they were young that it truly didn’t matter what gender you felt like deep down anyways, because Storm’s parents approved of whoever they would be.

– Setting up for confusion: no. What are we, trying to train children to “know their place”? This isn’t a world striving for gender equality if we need to tell children who they ought to be. They will feel in their hearts who they ought to be. It seems as though we’re being forced into “naturally” being some way, which contradicts the whole point of being what feels natural. If it’s what comes naturally, then why does anyone need telling what to do? Why are men and women directed to different bathrooms (when really, we’re all trying to relieve ourselves) and different clothes sections of the store (when really, we’re all just finding ways to cover ourselves and keep ourselves warm)? Why does it need verifying if it goes without saying?

– Storm’s parents aren’t taking away their child’s identity. They are giving their child the freedom to choose who they truly want to be. If we are truly this way (as in knowing a boy or a girl when you see one because of how they present themselves) naturally, then how come it’s society that has to paint our blank canvas for us when we are young and know no better? And why do relatives that don’t truly KNOW us as well as we do send us as girls barbie dolls from a young age and them as boys toy cars? Why was my brother given a GameBoy first, when I would have liked one just as much? (I realize that I have a couple of relatives that read this, so I’d just like to verify that if you’re going to buy me something insanely expensive for the next gift-giving holiday, a blackberry or a deposit for my post-secondary education would be awesome. Just sayin’.)

Each baby was brought into this world a blank canvas. Why are you keeping the paintbrush away from them?

Sincerely,
Alex Violet

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: