Parents Keep Child's Gender A Secret Following Birth (and other incredulous stuff)

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Cyn, May 24, 2011.

  1. Cyn

    Cyn Well-Known Member

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    It's a rare day when something renders me completely gobsmacked, but this article succeeded.

    I have no words….

    Some excerpts:

    Call me kooky, but I think these parents are incredibly selfish and irresponsible. While I understand the point behind their reasoning, they are living in a delusional world and are setting these kids up for a childhood filled with isolation, harassment, and bullying. And this concept of "unschooling?" :rolleyes: GMAFB.

    JMO, but this article could be titled "Progressivism Run Amok."

    Thoughts?
  2. ilovesalchows

    ilovesalchows Well-Known Member

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    There's nothing like using your children to experiment with changing the world's attitude towards gender issues...
  3. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

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    The unschooling thing sounds pretty wacky (although I can see it working if the kid is ambitious/curious/engaged and the parents are really focused on it...but it seems ilke a zillion times more work than regular school), but I support the underlying reasons for the genderless philosophy.

    I do agree that behaving so far outside of people's expectations can cause a lot of anger from people who aren't being the least bit affected by this couple's choice, which can backfire onto the kid. unfortunately the kid has no say in how s/he is being presented to the world.
  4. taf2002

    taf2002 Well-Known Member

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    More proof that you don't need brains or even common sense to reproduce.
  5. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    That is all fine and dandy in theory but those children are going to have to live and work in the real world. The real world doesn't think like their parents, for the most part. I don't think they are doing their children any favors and are doing the opposite, actually.
  6. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    In a rare event, a yahoo poster summed this up:

    one should not conduct social experiments on one's children.
  7. ilovesalchows

    ilovesalchows Well-Known Member

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    This kid will probably end up being the girliest girl or most boyish boy that ever was when it has a choice. My mom used to make us eat all this healthy food, and then the moment she left town we lived on Fiddle Faddle and Red Vines as if our lives depended upon it. I still have a need to hide candy when I eat it, lol.
  8. oleada

    oleada Well-Known Member

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    These parents are ridiculous. Way to use your kids for your own ridiculous social experiment :rolleyes:

    The parents give me the impression that they are forcing their older boys toward picking things that are traditionally femenine to make a point. And I won't even start on the unschooling...that should be child abuse.

    I'm all for fighting some gender stereotypes, but biologically vagina = female and penis = male. They're not doing their child any good by keeping that from him/her.
  9. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

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    The cynic in me says this is an incorrect statement:

    I would guess that perhaps there was a question as to the sex of the child. And if so, they may have not said gender to begin with and now they want to maintain the non-genderness for whatever reason. I cared for a baby about 30 years ago who was named boy at birth and then was admited to the hospital for some medical condition about 6 weeks later. Since the baby was from a small community and admited to a regional medical center. One of the physicians suspected that the sex was declared wrong. DNA testing showed that the baby was female. That caused huge issues - the birth certificate, the baptism, the naming, etc.
  10. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

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    That's not progressivism (reformation), that's anarchy (absence).
  11. Hannahclear

    Hannahclear Well-Known Member

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    Unless it was a scenario like this one you discuss above, I can't see the reason for doing this, other than trying a bit too hard to make a point, in a way that might not be good for the child in the long term.

    However, the medical treatment of intersex people is a far greater crime/travesty than these misguided, but probably well-intentioned parents. Not saying I agree with what they are doing, I don't at all, but when you compare to the things that are done to children to enforce (rather than subvert) gender norms, this doesn't come close.
  12. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    I don't see it as a social experiment. It seems like these are the parent's values, and the parents are raising their children according to them. I don't see the big deal personally :shrug:

    The unschooling sounds similar to Montessori method btw (or at least has some things in common with it). FWIW, research I've seen has shown Montessori students tend to test higher than students taught in a traditional school environment.

    WRT the bullying comments, I think some sentiments expressed are at odds with those posted in this thread. OTOH, people were saying in the bullying thread that students need to be taught to respect diversity, but in this case some are arguing a child needs to fit in with others to prevent from being bullied. Seems like a mixed message.

    jmho
  13. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Montessori teaching is run by people who actually know how to manage a relatively free-form classroom. This just sounds like parents who are idiots. No child's going to learn everything they need from "letting their interests dictate."

    For all the yakking about "gender expectations", your DNA is what is, you're either female, male, or have something seriously awry (it's not an intersexed person's fault, but it is a defect.) What are they going to do when the inevitable, ie puberty, happens? There are some basic PHYSICAL realities a kid needs to hear about themselves before they start happening. And refusing to tell people just seems like being pretentious. Saying a child is male or female is acknowledging reality, not a mandate to buy frilly pink dresses for girls and mini three-piece suits for boys. IME, kids play with what they want to play with if that's how you raise them. My parents didn't have any wacked-out political agendas and yet somehow my brother and I shared toys and games without either of us having any problems because the toys might be a "girl toy" or a "boy toy." They just never made an issue of it one way or another, so we didn't.

    Of course forget any of that, the kids are going to get beaten up for their stupid names. Storm? What, are they fans of X-men? These people aren't being principled, they're just using their offspring to show how speshul and smart and unique they are, AREN'T WE? LOOK AT HOW DIFFERENT WE ARE...sheesh.
  14. AxelAnnie

    AxelAnnie Well-Known Member

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    ^ Yep to all you said.

    What morons. You are so born with your gender. What, are they gonna keep cute little Strom (geesh) from spilling the beans?
  15. rjblue

    rjblue Re-registered User

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    I think they look pretty silly to outsiders. And the kids have to endure some teasing/explaining. But it's not any sillier than an Amish or Hasidic lifestyle. The kids are not forced to use any sort of gender category when making choices... I too don't see any harm in it.
  16. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    And if they're being disingenuous and the baby IS intersexed, a hermaphrodite, etc, they don't need platitudes, they need to be raised honestly with no-bs medical explanations as they're old enough over what their options are and what's medically necessary. Not be made into a social experiment, which is as bad as the old method of lying to someone about their own body. Nothing's accomplished by lying about a physical, biological reality. Genes are genes, you're born as what you are as far as physical sex goes, you don't have to deny or hide that to raise someone without Leave It To Beaver gender expectations.
  17. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    Could be, but since the article didn't state the parent's background or training, I don't assume they know nothing (though that could be the case).
    According to the article, the oldest who is K/pre-K can already read and write, so apparently they've already learned quite a bit.
    FWIW, in some Native communities, there are considered to be 12 genders--not just two plus those gone awry. It's common to view gender in binary fashion in Western society, but that isn't universally the case.
  18. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    I agree, I don't see what's the big deal. Presumably they just aren't telling other people what sex Storm is - Storm will presumably know, and the entire family knows too. It's true that people's treatment of someone drastically changes depending on the perceived gender.

    And getting a child to fit in to prevent bullying is a fool's errand. Yeah, I should have a nonstutterer and more of an extrovert so I wouldn't be bullied. :eek: Whatever, that attitude around me wore off once I hit high school anyway, it's so temporary.

    However, I also agree that out in the real world, people have to learn to be comfortable presenting different sides of themselves depending on the situation. This not only takes intelligence, but practice and experience. If Jazz is afraid he'll be made fun of at school for dressing like a girl, they could tell him that he can choose to dress in traditional boy's clothing at school, dress like a girl in his free time and still be true to himself. It doesn't have to be one extreme or the other. If anything, they're denying their children the education of navigating social norms and expectations. You don't have to follow them, but you should know about them and have the flexibility to use it to your advantage if you feel the need to. You can't live in a bubble all your life.

    But that's more of an observation than anything else, I'm not angry at them for raising their children this way. At least it sounds like it's done out of love and support.
  19. my little pony

    my little pony snarking for AZE

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    I'd give my kid to Amy Chua before these people.
  20. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Your chromosomes are what they are. You are biologically male or female. (Or a serious genetic mishap, most of which don't survive fetal development.) Nebulous cultural ideas about gender are as misguided as many people take rigid religious strictures on the subject to be. There's no point in fighting biological reality. You're born with what you're born with.
  21. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

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  22. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    Rather ridiculous. Personally I don't like that colours get sterotyped (pink for girls and blue for boys which when my nephews and neice were born I steered away from) but to not acknowledge what sex their child is pretty stupid. Because by the time the kid turns 1 or 2 it is going to be pretty obvious. You can't change personality.
  23. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    True, but which chromosomal charcteristics a society chooses to be definitional of personhood is arbitrary. One could just as easily choose blood type as the defining characteristic of who we are.

    That's not nebulous--just pointing out the obvious arbitrary relationship between a particular chromosomal trait and that which defines our personhood.

    I realize that may be difficult to fathom if that's your entire cultural context, but it really is a matter of cultural convention only.
    Did they say they wanted to? I thought it was more of a situation where they wanted the child's personality to be appreciated for what it is.
  24. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

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    that's what I got from it to. Some of the comments in this thread are far more :scream: than this family
    agalisgv and (deleted member) like this.
  25. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

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    Because girls have a different personality than boys? :confused::confused:
  26. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    How does a blood type impact us the same way that the XY or XX chromosomes do, in physiological terms? Would you say having trisomy 21 is the same as having an A+ blood type in terms of societal perceptions?

    This whole thing reminds me of a nursing professor who told her students (among which was my friend) that she wanted to raise her daughter in an androgynous environment and let her choose. She bought her trucks instead of dolls (not really giving her a choice, is it). The little girl proceeded to put the trucks to bed and tuck them in. It is what it is.

    Similarly, I tried giving my son stuffed animals and even dolls to see what he would do. He had no interest in stuffed animals with one exception of a stuffed crocodile called Neville, that he still sleeps with. Other than that he just dropped them on the floor. At the same time he had an absolute fascination with cars or anything mechanical from pretty much his birth. The one traditionally viewed as female interest of his is cooking.
  27. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    Societal perceptions are formed in great part by social constructions. If every person with a certain blood type was dressed in orange at birth, and given certain toys to play with, it might seem obvious that that DNA configuration is determinative of personality and such. And who knows, maybe people of a particular blood type do show common affinities. We don't know that though because our society isn't structured around that as a defining characteristic. Rather we choose other markers.
  28. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    I asked you about trisomy 21. Or any other number of chromosomal abnormalities that affect appearance.
  29. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    For me, gender roles isn't just assuming what the child would or wouldn't like. It's how other people treat the child. For instance, boys are assumed to be much tougher than girls, and girls are assumed to be more chatty. Not to mention girls are "supposed" to be better at verbal and artistic skills and boys are "supposed" to be better at math and analyzing. Foster those beliefs far enough, and they'll definitely affect the child. How many girls were dissuaded from math and science because they weren't a girly thing to do?
  30. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    But how do you foster it? By exposing the child to certain item, activities and concepts over others, among other things. The nursing professor wanted to give her little girl a chance to play with toys that are traditionally considered for boys.

    Speaking of math and science: the one of the positive things about the FSU is that they encouraged girls to go into science and math just as much as boys. Girls were expected to perform and learn the same way as boys. Lots of women were engineers, doctors and scientists.
  31. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    Right. I'm not saying certain parents aren't trying to open their children's minds, but the more we insist on sticking to traditional gender roles during a child's early years, then the more our kids have to fight to buck the trends later on in life.

    It's not just girls in math/science either. I think many men have a lot of trouble communicating verbally, and it's a serious detriment. Part of it is probably because they were never encouraged to do it well.
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  32. screech

    screech Well-Known Member

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    The thing that gets me is that it won't last long that the gender will remain 'secret'.

    - If the parents go out and they have a babysitter who has to change diapers.
    - When the child is old enough to use public restrooms on its own
    - Any government documentation

    The list goes on and on.

    I have absolutely no issue with letting your child be who they want to be. I appreciate the fact that they are doing that with their other children, though I could kind of see them saying to their oldest son things like 'are you sure you don't want the pink one?' in order to promote him leaning to the more 'feminine' side.

    I will say though, Storm definitely looks more like a boy than a girl.
  33. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    I am going to guess that Storm is a boy too. Shall we have a vBet?

    There was a series of pictures of cats online somewhere and you were asked to guess the sex of the cat based on looking at their face. Most people guessed very well.
  34. Prancer

    Prancer Ray Chill Staff Member

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    I have nothing to say about gender, mainly because the word "gender" annoys me, but I do know a bit about unschooling and your description is pretty apt. Like any other form of independent education, it's success depends on the people involved. I have known some people who have practiced unschooling at different points and have been quite successful with it; I've known others for whom unschooling is an excuse for basically doing nothing.

    I am continually amazed at how much people in this forum value formal education, which is also sometimes successful and sometimes means basically nothing. School is school; it is not necessarily education.
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  35. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    The word "gender" annoys me too. I am wondering if some people would argue that "gender" and "sex" are really the same thing.
    Last edited: May 25, 2011
  36. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

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    Maybe to some people it is. There are transgendered people who also want to have operations done to make their genitalia and other body parts (like breasts/chest) match what they feel their gender is.

    ITA.
  37. Ania

    Ania Active Member

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    A couple of years ago my students were collecting data for a research project with children. There was one 5-year-old who participated in the study and my students could not determine whether the child was a boy or a girl. At first I thought that the students made a mistake when entering the data into excel - i.e., erroneously left the gender column empty for this child, but they told me that they had no idea after interacting with the child on several occasions for 10-15 minutes at a time. The teachers presumably knew (unless the child was completely independent in the bathroom), but respected the parents' wishes to not make the child's gender known to others. Not a choice I would make for my children, but seems to have worked out OK for that child, at least while the child was at that particular school - no teasing, questioning, etc. Actually, the school has a policy of not using the terms "girls/boys", everyone is called a "friend". It's a bit weird at first, people quickly get used to it.
  38. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

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    And how are they are going handle it when he hits puberty and talk amongst any girls he's friends with turns to who's gotten their period and who hasn't (a la Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret)? Or when he starts getting sexually attracted to one of them?

    I think they are setting these kids up for a world of hurt. Because the truth always finds a way of coming out.
  39. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Uh, XX or XY determines if you are the sex that carries the offspring or fertilizes the egg. It doesn't get any more basic than that. From a pure biological anthropology perspective, yes, the only role that ultimately matters from an evolutionary perspective is defined by that particular pair. A malfunction or anomaly on that pair means, in purely evolutionary terms, you're 'out.' A genetic dead end, or supposed to be as far as nature is concerned. We're a sexed species, like all other primates. That's just the way life goes. For all people complain about it being cultural, reproductive roles are in fact biologically determined. Humans are no different than any other species except in we try to be clever and cirucmvent the selective process when we probably shouldn't.

    As such, female bodies and male bodies do different things. You want to dress a girl in 'boy's clothes' (though in Western society at least there's barely a difference except 'skirts', as opposed to 'kilts', are considered female-only; women wear jeans, trousers, etc), that doesn't change that the reproductive anatomy is female. They grow differently, body shape is generally different (hence women's clothing having to be cut differently to fit most women), hormones trigger different behaviors and emotional states--none of that has anything to do with how you raise your child to BEHAVE. "Gender" might be a social construct, SEX is not. That was decided when the sperm fertilized the egg. You can BEHAVE however you want within legal bounds provided you're not hurting anyone else or placing others in danger, but that doesn't change biology. Male and female is on the chromosome. There's nothing science can do to change that. Anything else is just pretend and window-dressing.
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  40. jeffisjeff

    jeffisjeff Well-Known Member

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    This is a minor point in the article, but it left me confused:

    Why is it they need to tell people that Storm is a boy or a girl in Cuba? If they can keep it a secret in Canada, can't they do the same in Cuba? I found this "let's flip a coin and just pretend for the week" thing to be rather :huh: given the family's towards gender. This little anecdote makes it seem a bit like they are playing games with people.

    Oh, and given they travel to Cuba, the kids must have passports. We just renewed my kids' passports (US) and they ask the child's sex, and I am fairly sure that the passport itself indicates the person's sex. Is it the same in Canada?

    And, yes, the unschooling thing is :rolleyes:, but I was even more :rolleyes: over letting an 18 month kid pick out their own clothes. My kids are 5 and 7 and I still need to periodically intervene in their choices - not based on color or style, but based on practicality (weather, gym class, etc.).