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  1. #1

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

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

    I have no words….

    Some excerpts:

    While there’s nothing ambiguous about Storm’s genitalia, they aren’t telling anyone whether their third child is a boy or a girl.
    “If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs,” says Stocker [the father].

    When Storm was born, the couple sent an email to friends and family: “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? ...).”
    Witterick [the mother] and Stocker believe they are giving their children the freedom to choose who they want to be, unconstrained by social norms about males and females. Some say their choice is alienating.

    “What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children. It’s obnoxious,” says Stocker.
    “In fact, in not telling the gender of my precious baby, I am saying to the world, ‘Please can you just let Storm discover for him/herself what s (he) wants to be?!.” Witterick writes in an email.
    Witterick practices unschooling, an offshoot of home-schooling centred on the belief that learning should be driven by a child’s curiosity. There are no report cards, no textbooks and no tests. For unschoolers, learning is about exploring and asking questions, “not something that happens by rote from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays in a building with a group of same-age people, planned, implemented and assessed by someone else,” says Witterick.
    Jazz [the oldest child] was old enough for school last September, but chose to stay home. “When we would go and visit programs, people — children and adults — would immediately react with Jazz over his gender,” says Witterick, adding the conversation would gravitate to his choice of pink or his hairstyle.

    That’s mostly why he doesn’t want to go to school. When asked if it upsets him, he nods, but doesn’t say more.
    “We spend more time than we should providing explanations for why we do things this way,” says Witterick. “I regret that (Jazz) has to discuss his gender before people ask him meaningful questions about what he does and sees in this world, but I don't think I am responsible for that — the culture that narrowly defines what he should do, wear and look like is.”
    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?" GMAFB.

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

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

  3. #3
    drinky typo pbp, closet hugger
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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.
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    More proof that you don't need brains or even common sense to reproduce.

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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.
    -Brian
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    In a rare event, a yahoo poster summed this up:

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

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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.

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

    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.
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    The cynic in me says this is an incorrect statement:

    While there’s nothing ambiguous about Storm’s genitalia, they aren’t telling anyone whether their third child is a boy or a girl.
    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. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyn View Post
    JMO, but this article could be titled "Progressivism Run Amok."
    That's not progressivism (reformation), that's anarchy (absence).

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    Quote Originally Posted by numbers123 View Post
    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.
    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. #12
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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

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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. #14

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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?
    DH - and that's just my opinion

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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.
    ‎"You emerge victorious from the maze you've been travelling in." Oct 21,2012- Best Fortune Cookie Ever!

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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. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by danceronice View Post
    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.
    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).
    No child's going to learn everything they need from "letting their interests dictate."
    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.
    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.)
    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. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by agalisgv View Post
    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
    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. 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.

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

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