Gender brain bender

A Canadian couple caused a stir when they went public about their efforts trying to raise their children genderless. None of their family members or friends know the sex of their youngest child, who is in toddlerhood. Their other two children, who have penises, however, have been raised without gender pegging. The idea is to banish social perception of gender beyond the battles for equality, and in turn, they are “freeing their children from the bonds of gender norms.” Their boys like pink and purple and sometimes wear dresses. The oldest likes his hair braided.

Is being genderless too far out there? Is it even possible?

We all know other kids can be mean, and those mean kids usually have mean guardians or someone who behaves in a way that is influencing them. Should that change who you want to be or what you like, despite your physical gender?

About 1 percent of the population is born with androgynous genitalia. Many parents don’t choose their child’s genitalia at that time and wait until the child is old enough to understand and chose for themselves. Some stay the way they were born.

I think kids are underestimated. They aren’t idiots, and we shouldn’t treat them so naively. My daughter is 2, and she already gravitates toward reds as her favorite color, sometimes blues. She likes to wear her sparkly shoes, or sometimes her boots. She likes dresses. What do her preferences peg her as being? If so, by whose standards? She just likes what she likes. Is a girl “supposed” to like pink? No. Can boys like pink? Yes.

An example: Some fast-food restaurants occasionally have gender-specific toys with their kid-size meals. “Would you like the girl meal that comes with a doll, or the boy one, that comes with a car?,” the worker asked me. That pissed me off. Really? “Well, I am a girl, and I want the car,” I responded. Her light bulb clicked on at that moment.

With all the influences of advertising, stereotypes and peer pressure, it seems impossible to raise a completely genderless child. Anyway, what’s wrong with being a girl or being a boy? We can defy the stereotypes with our preferences. As children get older, they know who they want to be and what they want to do with their gender-determining physical parts. Like it or not.

We’re parents. Kids look to us to be strong and know the ways of the world. To guide, protect and teach. They don’t just come out of a womb with ideas. Why not teach them to be proud of who they are and to stay confident behind their choices from the get-go?

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    Christine Teldeschi

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