Gender: is the range of characteristics that distinguishes between male / masculinity and female / femininity
There has been a media frenzy in Toronto as it has come to light that a local family, is choosing to raise their children – genderless. Apparently, what that means is that the children are allowed the freedom to express theirselves more and to make their own choices as to how they present themselves. The family are so determined to follow this genderless model of child rearing that they have not even informed the grandparents of the gender of the latest edition to the family. It is supposed to be the best kept secret, however we are aware that the eldest child, who wears dresses, pink feathers and paints toe nails is in fact male. He is 5 years old and as yet has chosen not to attend school as he is worried about the reactions of others! Children in the community are reluctant to play with what they call a he/she. Now I’m all for self expression. I have two girls and if they want a train set or to be an Engineer, they will have my full support. However am I wrong in thinking that by forcing their children to non conform they are in fact creating a bigger issue than there would probably be if they let things be?
For the most part gender usually follows the sex of the individual. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule. Ensuring that these Children are not labelled with a nice blue or pink stereotype from birth is a bold move. Our expectations of how the sexes should behave has been established for centuries and as society doesn’t take too kindly to changes is this family setting these children up for failure and creating outcasts?
There is such a vast difference in the opinions surrounding this story, some people are outraged and feel strongly that the children are being used like a lab experiment. Like many other type of experiments you can not see the damage inflicted until it’s too late. Others are calling this style of parenting a brave move.
I know one thing for sure, they are much braver than me. Just thinking back to when both of my girls were new babies, I was upset when I was constantly asked, “is it a boy?” was I wrong to be so proud of my daughters that I was happy to shout it from the roof top, while they were head to toe covered in pink? One of my roles as a parent is to provide the support, guidance and skills to enable my girls to function independently in the real world when they are all grown up. I want them to have the confidence to succeed and a clear and strong sense of identity. I’m ok with them wearing pink and having shiny shoes and pig tails, but I’m also ok with them flying a kite, playing with cars and dressing like a super hero. Surely it’s just all about balance?