Baby Named “Storm.” Sex Unknown

Kathy Witterick and David Stocker of Toronto have chosen not to announce their new baby’s sex, at least for now, as “a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation.” The parents would like to give the baby, named Storm, the freedom to choose or discover who she or he wants to be.

A Canadian couple is keeping the gender of their 4-month-old baby under wraps. Are they helping or hurting their child?

Other than their two sons, a close friend, and the two midwives who helped deliver the baby, no one knows the sex.

Because kids are bombarded by so many messages from society, the Witterick-Stocker’s are hoping to knock off a couple million of them, at least for a while.

If they want to treat their baby gender-neutral, Kathy and David will need to keep guard, themselves, because gender creation begins even before birth.

Typically, parents begin to develop ideas about what their child will grow up to be like as soon as ultrasound reveals the sex. Once they hear, “It’s a boy” dad gets visions of playing ball and coaching his son in little league. Or mom imagines playing dollies with her daughter or dreams of her future wedding gown.

Once they’re born, parents perceive boys as being strong and alert, while little girls seem delicate and pretty.

Parents treat sons rougher. Dad grabs Teddy Bear and threatens, “Teddy’s going to get you!” But tucking his daughter in at night, he’ll bring Teddy in for comfort and good dreams.

I’ve found myself mimicking these gender notions. When I was learning about all this in grad school, I agreed to babysit my two-year-old nephew. I’d roar at him. And for some reason I thought it might be fun to take a beach ball (it was very light!) and bang him on the head with it (but just once!). As soon as I did, I realized I would never do that to my little niece. She would be too delicate.

Parents even talk to their daughters more, and use a wider variety of emotion words. They use more questions, numbers, and action verbs with sons.

Girls are kept closer, and helped more. Boys are given more latitude and expected to help themselves, with just a little aid from mom and dad.

Meanwhile boys’ toys, like blocks, develop spatial skills while footballs and baseballs build muscles and a sense of competition. Girls’ dolls encourage nurture while tea parties hone social skills. Barbie teaches girls all about beauty, fashion, and the importance of dating Ken.

As kids watch cartoons they learn that boys are more active and aggressive, and are more likely the main character. There are a few exceptions, like Powerpuff Girls. Sailor Moon is another girl character who is active, fighting crime. Yet she’s an oddly sexy fourteen-year-old.

Hard to know whether the parents, brothers and friend’s knowledge of Storm’s sex might have some effect. And unfortunately, parents are rarely aware of how much they do treat their children in gender specific ways.

If little Storm gets any whiff of his/her sex, s/he’s likely to be highly influenced by the outside world: TV, billboards, other kids…

A lot of people are upset by all this. Maybe you are, too. But I’d like to know what’s wrong with trying to keep limitations away from a child so that s/he can become who s/he is with fewer restrictions.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
It’s Ok To Be A Tomboy But Not A Sissy. Why?
My Son Likes Girl-Things. Is He Gay?
Frats Invite Sluts, Bitches; Women Accept Degradation. Why?

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on May 27, 2011, in feminism, gender, psychology, sexism and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 72 Comments.

  1. I remember seeing this article or something similar in the past. I used to be confused on why the parents conceded the gender of their child, but now that I’m older, I can understand the reasons why they chose to do so. From before birth to death, gender plays a huge role in what kind of person the child will grow up to and what kind of life the child will lead. As stated, girls are usually raised to be docile, while boys are raised to be rowdy and go getters. Children who don’t fall into those criteria are usually bullied or forced to fit into the ideals. It’s scary to not fit in, especially as children, since they are constantly learning social cues in order to fit in. Not fitting in for a children is like a death sentence, it’s terrible. Gender reveal parties no longer make sense to me, I think it’d be better to have a baby shower in order to receive congrats on the healthy child and parents. Instead of pink or blue, maybe just a mix of two and have purple.

  2. I think what the parents are attempting to do is an amazing thing. That said I think it will be hard for them to find the support they need for it. So much of our world is gendered in ways we don’t even realize. And even if something that might normally be considered for one gender is made for the other gender it is often changed somehow. Power tools, for instance, which are usually considered a masculine object, might be marketed towards women by making them pink. I think it will be extremely challenging for these parents to create a gender-neutral world for their new child. And if they go to school what will happen then? Often in preschools and kindergarten is when children start to learn there are differences between boys and girls. Teachers carry their own mentality and it affects the way children think. You start being separated for certain actives and it is likely the school will require knowing the child’s sex. I would love if they were able to succeed, but I also must question why did they decide to go this route with their third child and not their first two?

  3. One of my friends got out of the closet to her parents and then her parents stopped upbringing to her. They drove her out of the house and said that only after she knows what to do and is cured, she then can go home. I really feel very absurd at that moment. My friend told me when she was little, she liked any kind of boy stuff. But her parents just couldn’t admit this fact and did’t buy those stuff for her. On the contrary, her parents just buy any pink stuff for her, such as pink wallpaper, barbie. As a result, my friend more disgusted with girl stuff than before. In my opinion, I think some children just born this way and parents don’t need to worry too much about it. I also think children will know themselves when they grow up. Sometimes, it just will cause an adverse effect when someone force you on the things that you like. Imagine that is it possible to ask the heterosexual to change themselves the homosexual?

  4. This is a good way as the child might be able to find out what he or she really likes and develop his or her own interest instead of following what the culture wants them to be. However is it the best for the child? Since people in our society have a certain set of gender role for males and females, the child who develops and behaves differently might be viewed as a freak by others. This kind of pressure is not something everyone can take, even though the parents can live with it without any problem. When the child finds out that he or she is just different compared to others, essentially still a teen, he or she might think “I’m a weirdo” and develop some sort of mental problems. I personally support the idea but people should take into consideration that this could also bring damage to the child’s development as well. What if your kid just wants to be normal?

  5. Stephanie Masina

    I think that this is a great way to let the child develope into whoever they want to be and not be influenced by what the world is trying to portray to them. I honestly think that this world is messed up the way “it” thinks. Anyone can be whoever they want to be no matter what anyone says! I honestly wish my parents would have done this for me but, I know it would be hard cause this world would mess that all up. But I give props to these parents and their child’s name is ADORABLE !

  6. I took some time to really sit with this topic until I moved past first level emotional reaction. This is my interpretation on this couple’s parenting without gender focus. First, parenting of any kind is an experiment and what works for one child or one family may not work for all. So I believe the parents are taking the time to discover what is meaningful for their family, based on what I read from the mother’s blog. Responsible parenting and responsible person-hood requires that we look at, engage in, and determine what each moment calls for. It is clear by the mother’s language that she is thinking, that she is exploring, and that she is open, which are all key ingredients for successful parenting. It sounds like they look at what is going on in their family, with their children and make conscious decisions about what the situation calls for. Second, from what I read, it seems their intention was less about having a gender-less child and more about not focusing on the child’s biological sex or gender preferences in their parenting. Making general assumptions about a person based on societal standards does not allow room for them to establish what is important to them. So the parents seem to be allowing room for their children to develop character and find personal truth, as well as establish self confidence. I say kudos to them for finding something that works for them and stepping outside the box with their parenting focus. I know for me personally there were things that I wanted to do and ways that I wanted to behave growing up that were not allowed because my parents saw me as a “girl” instead of seeing that I am my own person who may enjoy fixing a car as well as taking care of laundry.

  7. Caroline Cox

    It’s a cool idea and I like the point the parents are trying to make, however I don’t think they are going to be able to have storm be completely gender neutral. Like you said earlier in the post parents don’t realize it but they start having gender expectations before the kid is even born so if you think about it their experiment could (possibly) already be ruined. They won’t be able to keep this hidden for long, we Americans are oh so nosey about this kind of stuff not to mention the fact they told 3 people already we will find out eventually. I can’t shake the possibility that they are just partly doing this for the publicity and fame having this child will get them. It will be interesting to see how this child turns out.
    Just a side note looking at her/his eyes I believe Storm is a girl

  8. I don’t necessarily believe there is anything wrong with wanting your child to choose for him/herself and be themselves. However, I do think that kids need some guidance (or a lot) in order to be successful and happy. For example, when my mom was younger her mom (my grandmother) always made my mom have short hair. My grandmother argued that it was just easier to manage and that it looked better. So naturally, there are lots of pictures of me as a little girl with really long hair! My mom felt like she had not been given the choice to look the way she wanted and so she was going to make sure I had a choice. I think that now in days way too many choices are made for you. Baby storms parents are making a decision that they feel is best and while everyone is titled to their own opinion, it is usually not okay to tell someone how to raise their kid. I just hope that storm does not become confused or get lost in a sort of in between (male or female). Part of me feels that it shouldn’t matter male, female, who cares? Do what makes you happy and forget about the rest. Unfortunately that’s not how things work and it’s hard to be the odd one out. I also wonder how long storms parents intend to keep this going. Eventually she will have to attend school, and simple tasks like going to the bathroom may become somewhat uncomfortable. All in all, it is sort if difficult for me to take a really clear stance, maybe because I’ve never had a child. I just hope that for baby Storm’s sake that her parents decision will not in anyway affect her in a negative way.

  9. First, I’d like to acknowledge the name they chose for him/her. Storm is quite “fitting” considering I think they’re definitely fighting against a great gender storm.

    In my opinion, this child can be fairly protected up until preschool – if they choose to send him/her to one. At a preschool, the teachers will find out as soon as they escort him/her to the bathroom – as they are not allowed to go alone until the age of 4/5. And as soon as s/he hits kindergarten and starts attending elementary school, using the correct bathroom is going to blow his/her cover. This being said, I’m assuming that they think s/he will be able to decide by the age of 2, perhaps 5, what s/he feels most comfortable with.

    I don’t feel like an infant or even a child understands the difference between the two at such a young age. And that is what bothers me.

    I applaud them for trying to reduce the use of gender stereotypes to raise their child, but they can still do that even by announcing his/her sex. I doubt this baby is going to be socialized much between the ages of 0-5, in general, with or without acknowledgment of his/her sex. The baby is going to be spending the majority of the time with the family at this age and it’s going to be completely up to them to reduce the use of gender stereotyping, regardless.

    I can see how dressing their baby in gender-neutral clothing and hiding the sex can ward off unwanted gender-directed compliments and gender-directed gifts, but that’s really all that they’re doing at this stage in the child’s life. I think what’s more crucial is when the child gets older, and that’s when it becomes nearly impossible to prevent. Just because you are protecting your 2 year old from being called “pretty” or “handsome” or “delicate” or “strong”, doesn’t mean it’s going to completely free them from the stereotypes of gender, since it’s at such a young age.

    Though I see where they are coming from, I don’t think it’s going to make a HUGE difference for this child. They are the ones who are going to have the biggest impact on this child’s life. The home-life is going to determine the majority of how they are able to deal with society and society’s gender stereotypes. If they can build an environment where they can teach their child to express his/herself freely, then they will have done more than a lot of parents. This, in and of itself, is difficult since I’m sure even they will fall pray to gender stereotyping at times. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing since when they get older they WILL have a choice and be able to understand that choice more fully. Hence why we have a growing population of transgenders/transsexuals.

    Overall, I don’t think they’re causing any harm by doing this but I don’t think keeping it from the public is going to change much.

    Besides, the messages of gender stereotypes are still going to be out there whether they actually tell others about their child’s sex or not. And their child is going to see this difference between genders on their own. It’ll be interesting to see just how far these parents are willing to go in order to conceal the gender and to hide stereotypes from the child.

  10. I remember hearing about this baby on the news when the story first came out. At first I remember thinking that it was weird that the family was keeping the gender private. This will probably sound cheesy but, as I’ve grown up, I’ve started to look at the world in a different perspective, I am starting to understand why the parents made this decision. In today’s society your gender is chosen from the moment you are born. At the hospital you are given either a blue blanket or a pink blanket, never green nor yellow. You are given a name that is pretty easy to identify as well. Before you are truly able to discover yourself and who are you, you are given an identity within society. Storms parents want to give their child the chance to discover who they are and who they want to be before their gender is revealed. I idolize the babies parents for making such a drastic change in society. The parents want to be able to give their child the chance to say I was born a girl but I feel like I’m supposed to be a boy and vis versa. Before society starts making decisions for this child, the parents want their child to be able to say who they want to be. It will be interesting to see how the child reacts when they are old enough to understand the decisions their parents chose for them.
    Stories like this really make someone step back and look at who they are and who they are becoming. It makes them stop and really think about the choices that they have made so far in their life. I’ve always been in support of find out if the baby is a boy or girl before it’s born but now I am realizing that in doing so, I would be taking away their individuality. I’m making choices for them before they are even on this planet. Who knows, maybe years down the road I too will make the decision of keeping my child’s gender private. Maybe soon you will be able to pick the color of your babies blanket instead of the stereotypical pink and blue. This world is changing and hopefully society’s view on gender will too.

  11. Having prior knowledge of baby Storm from my CHLD 51A: Affirming Diversity.
    It does affect the child in some way to know her/his gender, because of the embodiment of what society, culture, etc has bestowed upon us. Where choosing the color, toys, behavioral, manners, and emotions associated with the gender of the child. Thus men tend to be less in touch with emotions and expected to be rugged, sturdy, strong, etc. Yet, isn’t the men highly more likely to populate jail by violence, murder, or battery crimes.

    One question I do have for the parents is:

    Does it sometimes affect you raising Storm, with western values upbringings that you might catch yourself doing?

    • There’s a good possibility. Turns out, parents think they treat their children more equally than they do–when you actually study how they interact with their children.

  12. While it is not necessarily anyone’s business what they do and how they raise their child, it is important, however, they the parents consider social and physical impacts of failing to influence and nurture their child’s identity. I would imagine by neglecting to hone a female’s caring and nurturing nature, or a boy’s physical prowess, they may put their child at a disadvantage early in his or her life. Their plan sounds so sweet and thoughtful at first glance, but it is important to consider how this may hinder the child. Children rely on their parents for nearly everything in their early life. How is a boy supposed to feel independent as the article mentions, or a girl supposed to feel close and protected by her mother and father? It just seems confusing for a child to come into this world with no direction or role models to follow. People benefit through specialize throughout their life, like sports, cooking, education, and work. If this child is not developing a specific set of skills then they have no qualities that make them truly a benefit in a competative society

  13. I think it was not a good idea for Kathy and David to not tell their new baby’s sex. All babies are born with their own biological traits that determine whether they are males or females. Even if they do not let the baby know his or her real gender, the baby is bound to know his or her gender in the future in the end. Also, once he or she knows his or her real gender, it is very likely that he or she gets confused with his or her identity. What if the baby chooses to be a male, and later he realizes that he is actually a female biologically? The baby is likely to have some mental or mind problems, and have difficulties getting used to the society where gender standards exist. Thus, it is important to let others and baby himself or herself know what gender the baby is. In order to give him or her the freedom in terms of gender, it is not too late after letting the baby know whether he or she is male or female.

  14. In terms of exposure, I think this is a decent idea: The baby will (hopefully) not have a one-sided upbringing, unlike most children. Being allowed to both ‘play with dolls’ and to ‘play baseball’ will give Storm a fuller experience of life; most people don’t even realize that they’ve been denied the chance to try a lot of thing because of their gender. However, in terms of interaction this is a dangerous experiment: The current state of gender norms is so concrete that Storm may (likely) not fit in or make friends. For instance, lets say Storm chooses to adopt some aspects of the female gender and some aspects of the male gender. The baby then goes on to make friends with children as s/he grows up, picking friends with like interests: Playing dolls with girls who have been brought up that way and playing baseball with boys who have been brought up that way. Eventually, children reach an age where they segregate from each other by gender; how can Storm maintain a place when that occurs? Will Storm be locked into one side by the way s/he chooses to dress? To interact? To play?

    On the other hand, if Storm just picks one gender identity and sticks to it I figure s/he’ll have the same level of psychological issues as other growing people, just perhaps in a different way. I’m not against this sort of experiment, and if the parents believe it will be ‘liberating’ then all power to ’em. But hopefully they’re ready to get through the issues that may confront them.

  15. Fernando Kose

    I don’t really like the idea about hiding the sex of the baby. In my opinion, doing that will resulting in social pressures toward the baby, and also the family. I also don’t think that the idea of letting the baby to choose which his/her own gender is a good idea. The baby will not be wise enough to choose which one is right for the baby, and it is kinda risky.

  16. Jumpinbean8p

    I found this story very interesting. It is so hard to imagine all the work the parents have to put in to raising Storm as gender neutral. Seeing as they are not the only ones that know the truth as to whether Storm is a boy or girl only makes it that much harder. The brothers for example, can they truly keep the information to themselves? Won’t they themselves treat Storm differently knowing the true gender? Just because of this one factor it seems almost impossible that Storm will truly be raised gender neutral, but at least Storm will be raised much more neutral than most of us were.

  17. I’m not upset by this at all. I think its a good idea in theory, but I worry for thay child when they get to school. Children are very very cruel to people they deem as other and love picking on other kids to prop themselvs up in their society. Kids will find any reason to pick on someone. I remember we used to pick on this girl because she was special ed and her social skills weren’t great. Kids used to pick on me ruthlessly and I still can’t figure out why. I just think it was because I have red hair and I smiled alot. I was friendly and people picked on me. Imagine what they could do to a little kid named Storm, especally of s/he wore dresses but when to the boys restroom.

  18. Funny how we don’t notice that we treat boys and girls differently until it’s pointed out to us. Do you think that maybe we are MEANT to treat them differently? Maybe it’s intuition, maybe it’s pre-programmed. Boys and girls, men and women, ARE different. We have different strengths and weaknesses, and each bring very valuable contributions to relationships and the society. I think there is too much emphasis on EQUALITY between the genders. We are not EQUAL. We should be EQUALLY valued for our different abilities and qualities.

    • Sex is natural. Gender isn’t. It’s what each culture makes out of biological sex.

      I grew up with people telling me that I couldn’t do things I wanted because girls and women aren’t fulfilled by things like getting a Ph.D. Or having a career. We were just to get married and have babies. Yet a lot of women were bored with that life and wanted more. I was told men were supposed to lead and tell me what to do. I didn’t like that at all. Men like sex and women don’t, so women need to control men’s sexuality, and it’s our own fault if we get raped … We just weren’t doing our job well enough.

      And I knew it was all a lie.

      With the way you use the term equality (exact sameness) men cannot be created equal, either. 

      All men are created equal… And all women and men are created equal. We are all of equal worth and should be given equal opportunities.

      See this post as one example of how gender differs by culture. 

      And this one

  19. I think it is important to distinguish between sex and gender in this situation. At a certain age, at least to me, it seems Storm will inevitably find out their sex. I believe a combination of factors including length of hair, types of clothing, and certain physiological features (including facial features and body composition) may contribute to how the baby/child will be treated and therefore may shape child’s perception of him/herself or confuse them. Also there is a possibility that the parents might try to overcompensate for the actual sex of the baby. For example if they found out he/she was actually a “he” they might emphasize what are seen as socially acceptable characteristics for girls. I am also unsure about other environmental factors around him/her including belief systems, religious affiliations (of the family and the community around them), family, economic class, and form/source of education. I would be a concerned about the treatment of Storm depending on the environment in which Storm would be raised.
    I would be curious in how Storm’s reactions to stimuli (such as “TV, billboards, other kids”) would compare to a child that has been raised knowing their sex and maybe even given guidelines for what gender roles will be expected from them. That being said, I would not promote a further study based purely on curiosity. Privacy should be taken into consideration and perhaps the parents should leave it up to Storm to make the decision whether or not to release this information (in any amount) to the public.

  20. Here’s a comment from another post that’s relevent to this one:

    My youngest child was a boy. Since children look to older siblings for guidance on behavior, he looked to his sisters, one of whom was a “girly” girl (not my fault, honest).
    While he and his best buddy played with cars and Brio trains and other “boy” toys that had previously belonged to his sisters, they also played dress up and Barbies. When a sister painted her face, they wanted in on the fun. By 16, my son had beautiful thick waist length hair.
    My son is now in the California Conservation Corps digging ditches, climbing mountains, and spending the weekends with his girlfriend. He lost interest in dresses and make up years ago, but has decided to let his hair grow again (a previous girlfriend persuaded him to cut it off).
    How the girls turned out: Major in the army, expeditor at Apple, mortgage broker, and a student working to simultaneously get her master’s and teaching certificate – all hetero.
    This is a small sample, but I think it shows that while gendered toys and clothing may affect a child’s attitudes, it won’t have any affect on their sexual orientation.
    So, relax – let them play and experiment.

    (comment from My Son Likes Girl-Things. Is He Gay?

  21. I think this is an interesting approach the parents are taking to trying to reduce the pressure society places on children to act a certain way, and counteract the way they treat the children from the moment they are born, depending on the gender. When I think of this unusual and sinister name “Storm,” it makes me think this baby is a boy because of the way society has conditioned me to believe that men are the ones who are more prone to anger-management problems and a “stormy” temper. I’m interested to find out how this experiment of theirs turns out.
    The sentence “Barbie teaches girls all about beauty, fashion, and the importance of dating Ken” made me chuckle because I realized that yes this is often true with young girls. I however, for some reason was never attracted to dolls/ barbies and wouldn’t have minded ripping off their head. Lol.

  22. Giving the an baby freedom is such as like giving them permission to do as they please. The change in babies and adolescence are that babies do not really know no better. Although once the child is old enough to be exposed to the outside world and will slowly start to either fit in to societies norms or be a out cased at least he/she had the chance.I think that part of what makes a person who they are is how they interact with other people, but parents would basically have to keep children from leaving their house, since gender promoting images are all over.Growing up the child may reject their parents for forcing them to grow up in an awkward way, as their other kids may wonder why they were not raised the same.The point being that no matter what people will correlate one attribute or another to gender stereotype because it’s too natural for humans.

  23. Melina Yousef

    I don’t understand what the parents mean by giving the baby, the freedom to choose or discover who she or he wants to be. Babies don’t know any better. That is why parents teach their kids between right and wrong. The baby can still grow up and choose what they want to be. That will not change the sex of the baby and by hiding it will also not change the sex of the baby.

  24. Jessica Bailey

    GO STORM! I love this article. Society put too much pressure on girls and boys to conform into what those roles are to be played. As in the Blog: “Its okay To Be A Tomboy But Not A Sissies. Why?” states the negativity that is attached to a male acting like a female but the positively that goes with wanting to be a boy, I feel this at least gives the child the chance to decide whether or not conformity is for them or if they will decide his/her fate. Although once the child is old enough to be exposed to the outside world and will slowly start to either fit in to societies norms or be a out cased at least he/she had the chance, in might I add the most critical time in growing (birth to 24months), the personality they want instead of it given to them based on passed down and slowly changing rules and regulations of “Sex”.

  25. I’d read about this family a week or two ago, on a post that my sister and her friends were discussing. I was surprised by it, but I didn’t disagree with the idea and efforts that the parents were putting in, in fact I applauded it. I might have written before that one of my closest friends is a transgendered woman, whose story I don’t know very well, only because I never wanted her to feel that it was important to me in any way other than what it was important for her to tell me. But I do know that she went through so much struggle with her biological gender identity with her own close knit family. So I thought that Strom’s family must be on to something. But I have a cynical side too, and it concerns me that Storm might grow up in a more challenging way than had he or she and the world around him or her known their physical gender from the start. I started wondering whether it seemed more likely that a male child would have his identity concealed than a female child, and I decided that my bet was Storm is female and she is being shielded in order to give her more opportunities in life! Isn’t that funny, that even in my reflection on a very serious and well-meaning decision these parents made in an attempt to limit gender stereotyping on their child, I am assessing the situation based upon gender stereotypes!
    Thank you, – Lorie

  26. This move by the parents will undoubtedly be considered controversial and will be heavily scrutinized by people. It is their decision to treat the baby however they want but the baby’s biological sex should influence how they treat the baby in my opinion. I have no problem with parents letting a baby girl play with GI Joe’s but I do think that the parents should at least influence the child in some ways, such as what clothes the baby wears and etc. It will be really hard on the baby to not be steered in any sort of direction by the parents, that will be very hard on the child and will make things very tough for Storm.

  27. It is so unbelievable that the parents would do this. I respect privacy, but what the children. If they stand by their decision, Storm will most likely along with his/hers brothers will be a mess. They will be teased and hateful because of the decision. This act performed by the parents is just that. They are looking for the media to make this their big break. They want the media to watch them until Storm’s gender is revealed. It is like the crazy guy with the weather balloon. I am appalled that these parents would put their children in this type of mental harm.

  28. When first seeing this story on the news and then reading about it further on an online article, I have mixed feelings about how the parents are going about raising this child. It is a very bold move to make a statement like this to society and seems like it will be very hard for them to keep it up. Although hiding this child from all of the social norms in society would give Storm their own identity, it could also give some complications in life. It would seem that in today’s age Storm would get teased a lot in school since no one knows what sex Storm is. If Storm is never sure of his/her biological sex then wouldn’t it cause some gender confusion later on in life? What happens if Storm wants to ask their parents why they choose to raise his/her this way? The parents will have these questions to ask themselves and see if raising their child to this extreme was really worth it in the end. It is good to keep their child from the gender norms, but going to this extreme seems a little too much. They could just let Storm be how they want like they did with their other two sons. I hope that the parents stick to this since they already started raising Storm this way and I wish the best of luck to them throughout this tough journey.

  29. Beth Kamaloni

    I heard this story on the news one morning and had a few opinions about it. I was hoping that the parents were doing it not just for their own agenda but for the baby. What I mean by that is just as you said people probably are not aware of how much they can be influenced by knowing the sex of their child. I would just hope that in the future it does not end up doing more harm than good for the child. I understand them not wanting their child to have limitations but I also think it is inevitable in the society we live in now to protect a child against what they are able to see in the media and hear from friends. I would think they could get confused and it would cause emotional problems. That was what I first thought but on the other hand I think that it is a bold move because the parents are trying to make a statement which I think has caught the attention of many people but I just hope that it is something they are able to follow through with because I can imagine that it is a lot of work trying to keep that information private.

  30. Hannah Ervin

    I personally don’t see the problem in taking limitations away from a child. Majority of people follow the norm and do as you mentioned before with their kids. If it is a girl, parents are more tender and treat her more delicately, while if it is a boy then parents try to get him to play sports and be more rough and tough. These parents are stepping outside of societies boundaries and are giving their children an opportunity that not many children are offered. These kids are given the option to dress, act, and be who they want. As much as I appreciate the decisions these parent’s have made for Storm, I do think that society will still have a great affect on Storm and how s/he will act from just being exposed to society and other children.

  31. I found this essay really interesting, I have to agree with another post though. I think the parents have good intentions but this is a little extreme. When someone in my family has a baby it is exciting for everyone and they can’t even tell their family whether or not the baby is male or female? I think the family would have respected the fact that they did not want anyone to treat the baby a special way because of the gender. It would be interesting to see how this baby grows up and what the sex really is, and how much influence other people and their behavior to a baby really has on the child growing up.

  32. It’s interesting seeing a true opinion on this story. I came across it in the news a couple days ago and thought it was incredibly fascinating, and extreme on the parent’s part. I think it is a good experiment to not name your baby and dress them in unisex attire until they are old enough to decide for themselves. I do, however, think it is extreme that the parents of Storm keep all of their children in the same concealment. When I read the article I believe that the brother was starting to have identity issues in school, so this could very well pose an exemplary problem in Storm’s future. Looking at the eyes, you don’t think Storm is a girl? 

  33. Lindsay Sauln

    In general I’m on board with Storm’s parents keeping her/his sex a secret. I also question how much the parents will be able to “de-gender” their treatment of Storm. I don’t think I buy the idea that Storm will undoubtedly have some identity crisis as a result of his/her gender neutral upbringing, rather I think the child will have the opportunity to develop their own identity in a new way. And bare in mind identity development is a process every child has to go through, gendered or not; growing up female is far from the only component that has shaped my identity. And also kids are cruel… to everyone, not just the “weird” kids. Unfortunately, had Storm’s sex not been a secret, the child would have likely been bullied for some other reason (weight, class, ability, intelligence, wearing glasses, wearing certain clothes, religion, height, the list goes on and on); not to mention kids will often tease members of the opposite sex just for “being a girl” or “being a boy”.

    I first read about this on Yahoo!News and the comments people made about this story were so ignorant and often down right mean. I’m glad to see on this site people seem to be a lot more open minded 🙂

  34. I agree with Deirdre. Maybe the parents could let the baby and others know his or her gender. But as the child is growing up they can tell the child that they can do pretty much whatever they want within reason no matter if they are a boy or girl. If the baby is a girl and wants to go out for football more power to her. If it turns out the baby is a boy and wants to go out for Hopefully the child will still have an identity. He or she will just get to choose the things that he or she is interested in.

  35. Deirdre da Silva

    I love the fact that the parents want Storm to be able to choose who he or she wants to be without anyone elses intervention. I see no problem with them allowing Storm the freedom of being able to play with “girls’ toys” as well as “boys toys”, and exploring both sides of the gender line, but in my opinion, they will never be able to successfully do this unless Storm is kept completely separate from the rest of society, and all forms of media, which would be extremely difficult to do. I think that part of what makes a person who they are is how they interact with other people, but Storm’s parents would basically have to keep Storm from leaving their house, since gender promoting images are all over. Storm wouldn’t be able to play with other children because children, especially at a young age are very inquisitive, and can be quite unforgiving to others who are different, and I think that even Storms brothers could not keep themselves from subconsciously acting towards Storm based on the gender they know Storm to be. While this effort of Storm’s parents could work during the early stages of Storm’s life, but the issue of gender is everywhere, and unless they plan to keep Storm from even picking up a book, I think that their efforts would have to end when Storm is still very young.

  36. Here’s my opinion:

    I feel it would help any child to: hear plenty of action words, hear plenty of emotion words, be allowed to show emotions/cry, not be overly helped (making one dependent), develop muscles, and learn social and nurturing skills, etc. And not be limited by any expectations, generally, in the development of one’s personality.

    People could be confused on the “genderless” issue, but parents are planning to let Storm pick a gender.

    Storm may eventually choose a gender that matches biology, but that is more expansive: more nurturing, more open to emotion, and more strong than Storm would otherwise be

    Now, if Storm is a biological girl (and she looks like a girl to others) who plays sports and likes other masculine things, “she” likely won’t face much difficulty because people will just categorize “her” as “tomboy,” which most girls are when they’re little. If biological female Storm wants to be called a boy, then at that point his life would be very much like that of a transgender person.

    If Storm is a biological boy (and he looks like a boy to others) and enjoys playing with dolls, “he” could face some teasing. At that point it would be up to Storm to determine whether to conform, or whether “she’d” be happier expressing “her” natural personality. If she chose the latter, her life would be very much like that of a transgender person. I know several. They are fine, though life is a bit more difficult.

    In some cultures transgender individuals are highly valued. More on that later.

    • the experience will definitely enable storm to see the world in different views. i’m curious, what age do you think storm will be old enough to say “mom, dad, i want to be a ___.” we know that a child recognizes his or her gender at the age of five, but will the parents let storm choose her gender then? or will they wait until a later age?

      • Who knows? Maybe by age 5 Storm will come up with something her/himself.

        And my theory about how Storm will be affected by all this is just a best guess.

  37. I think that this is a very interesting way to bring up a child in this world. These ideas might actually confuse the child more than bringing them up in the stereotypical gender society we live in. As this article states that the parents themselves will need to be careful because their preconceived notions will affect their experimental ways. Not only will this affect the baby but it will effect its’ siblings because they will have to treat the baby differently than they have ever treated each other or anyone else. Growing up the child may reject their parents for forcing them to grow up in an awkward way, as their other kids may wonder why they were not raised the same. It is unfortunate that there are so many gender stereotypes that shape the way a child develops and a child should be able to decide how they want to be perceived but either way a boy will be a boy, and a girl will be a girl.

  38. This example is probably to a much lessor degree, but I think it conveys the same message as a gender neutral child possibly becoming confused: Isn’t it the exact same story with names? Say your given name is Robert Jr. Your parents may solely refer to you as Robert Jr. in your formative years. Then, you go to school where there are two other Roberts. The teacher calls you Bob to decrease confusion. Later in life, your close pals will call you R.J., and your girlfriend will call you Robbie. Assorted others may use Rob, Bobbie, plain ‘ol Jr., etc. This is something as basic as a name. But do all people who have ever gone by a nickname, and therefore had ambiguity associated with the most basic of things–their name–become socially or mentally impaired because of it? Why is gender any different?

  39. No matter how hard the parents, brothers, and friends try, I think they will always treat Storm the way they would a regular child. I think their actions will still be gendered, only because they already know the sex of the baby. It would be different if they didn’t know either.
    The problem with not teaching a child it’s sex is that it can confuse the child in the future. They’re going to grow up learning one thing at home, and then hit reality when they meet other people. I think it’s harder to find your personality when you have no real identity.

  40. Agreed, G.P.–all kids to one degree or another have to contend with stigma growing up. Recognizing everyone is a different individual, is perfectly natural, and a big part of life. Handicapped children, kids that are bookworms, redheads can all be stigmatized just like a gender-neutral kid may be. I wouldn’t dare, tell any of the parents whose child shares any of the above characteristics to change their children to be more “normal” so they do not have to deal with societal pressures. . . I don’t think Storm will have a problem–especially a long term one.

  41. To those who are worried about little Storm, are you worried that s/he will learn social skills by playing with tea sets AND build his/her muscles by playing ball? Or are you worried that Storm will get picked on because kids can’t quite figure out a child who’s willing to do all sorts of activities and can’t pin down the gender? (Parents will allow Storm to choose a gender that fits when older)

    What do you all envision, specifically, as the problem?

    • I’m worried that s/he will be picked on. EX: what if s/he needs to go to the bathroom in public? male or female stalls. I’m very happy that Storm will have the choice to choose genders, but no matter how s/he is treated the child will feel different from friends and society. I remember most of my very young childhood and being a boy or girl is completely different! there are rules to each gender but then again i was not raised in the states. Clearly there are different ways couples would approach this situation. i just don’t think that its fair to have a child questioning what his/her gender is, especially during his/her growth development period. We are the ripples of our past, imagine what would rush through storm’s mind when s/he has to question his/her own gender. Storm is not my child, i would not raise my child this way. if my child were to say i don’t want to be this gender, then i suppose i would let my child be the oposite gender. I do not have first hand experience in raising a child, i’m only 21. my comment is based on opinion and an experience of being different. My culture and background made me a social outcast when i attend school in the states. My late elementary and early middle school years was extremely depressing only because i was a little different. I was not some weird kid in the corner talking to myself but people tend to always pick on me! 😦 i can’t imagine what’s going to happen to storm. I wish we live in the perfect system, where different is just their individual choice. Unfortunately kids are cruel and positive mental development as a child is growing up is so important. In high school it took me a long time to feel “normal” just form being teased.

  42. its not so much upsetting as complicated. his or her social life is going be so tough to handle! storm will feel confused and different, i’m not sure if that’s a fair road to take a young child through. I’m all for allowing the child to choose his or her own choice. it’ll be super difficult to deal with storm psychological development. if storm were my child, i think my wife and i would make the choice of picking the child’s gender. as far as how we play or communicate to a baby girl or boy, i completely agree. I like to tease my young cousins and i spoil my little niece.

  43. From reading these comments and another article on the subject,

    I’m amazed at how heated this topic is and how people defend the deeply entrenched gender roles so vehemently! It is really sinister that these parents are trying to create a gender-neutral environment for Storm? By ridding the child of socialistic constraints is its (mental) future all that bleak? And if so, what does that say for LGBT folks, especially transsexuals?

  44. Simranjeet K. Rai

    I am not necessarily upset by these parents choosing to raise their child without sharing the child’s gender, but it is entirely perplexing. Identity is already such a huge ordeal and a concept that many people struggle with in our society, so it almost seems like giving a child less limitations, therefore enabling a lot more freedom and uncertainty, is more harmful because the child does not have a direction to follow. In my experience, not having a direction or an aim in life is insanely chaotic and usually results in some sort of disaster. I am intrigued to see what happens as Storm grows as a child and then an adolescent and then an adult because his or her story is definitely going to be an unique experience that others may not be able to understand or relate to. However, part of human nature is this need to fit in, belong and be accepted exactly as we are. It feels like these parents are already differentiating Storm from birth, therefore making it nearly impossible for this child to ever really relate to another individual entirely because this child’s story is so, so, SO different than anyone else’s. I find myself getting a lot more pissed the more I write about this topic!

  45. Reading this blog and then the article, I can see where this mother is coming from on her views. Yes, we do live in a society that plays into stereotypical roles. Yet I find myself confused as to why she would choose to sacrifice her children to accomplish this message that she wants to send out. Her children do not even attend a conventional school because her they wear girl clothes and have long hair. Is this women really taking her kids future mental state into consideration? From what she had to say below, I’m thinking not.

    “As for his mother, she’s not giving up the crusade against the tyranny of assigned gender roles. “Everyone keeps asking us, ‘When will this end?'” she said. “And we always turn the question back. Yeah, when will this end? When will we live in a world where people can make choices to be whoever they are?”

  46. Karin Hjertstedt

    I think it’s a great idea to try and shield little “baby Storm” from what’s to come.
    The parents will have a difficult time though and I doubt that they will be able to keep it up for a long time. I buy blue colored clothes with trucks on for my nephew although it was very tempting to buy a pink shirt…I didn’t want to waste my money because I know they would never use it.
    It’s hard to fight everything wrong in society so I don’t really care about what color each gender has been assigned. What gets me really angry are the life altering effects, such as talking to girls more or encouraging boys to be more active that most people are unaware of. If parents had a greater understanding about the consequences of treating babies differently depending on gender then maybe something interesting would happen in our society.

  47. Tricia Sanders

    While their intentions are great, I feel as though it is unrealistic and extreme. Did they really have to hide the sex of the baby in order to keep those around the baby from expressing social gender norms towards the baby? Could they not have explained to the family/friends their ultimate goal while not hiding the sex of the baby. Many of these people now may not know how to act towards the baby now and this could potentially bring hardships on the family as well as the recent media attention.

    Granted, it is non of our business on how they choose to raise their child, nor is it any of our business when others choose to insert gender roles into their children. However, by the media now playing a role in their family situation, it has made many believe that it is their business and the family is now subject to the world’s opinion on how to raise their child.

  48. Tonya (Facundo) Kamaloni

    I read about this family just recently and it made me think of all the things I did as well to influence my son’s development and reinforce gender stereotypes. Just the other day, my son put on my headband and was walking around. My dad called out to him, “Mijo, that’s for girls. Boys don’t wear those.” I applaud this family for making the choice to not limit the natural evolvement of their child. I do agree with others who have posted that it will be difficult but I think it’s simply amazing they are even willing to try. In thinking back to what my dad told my son about wearing my headband, I too think of what I replied back to my very Mexican macho dad. I said, “Dad, I would like to teach Riley that he can be, do or wear whatever he wants. It doesn’t mean that he is going to turn into a girl, just because he knows they exist in this world.” I think those that who get upset are afraid that our children will become deviant or freaks if they do not assume the correct gender roles that have been established by society.

  49. Victor Aguirre

    I think although the idea behind it is great the way it’s being executed goes against millenniums of established civilization. I also feel the idea is being romanticized in an unrealistic manner. If ever anyone is to have a shoot at whatever they want to become it will come through the ingraining of that notion from birth.

    On the flip side of the situation this is an opportunity to test the views of individuals on how they can use any bit of information to gender discriminate. I for one am already thinking this is a girl from the name Storm. Storm makes me think of the women in the X-man series who has happened to mutate into a weather controlling mutant. Even If the baby’s name was X it would somehow allure me to think of one gender or another. The point being that no matter what people will correlate one attribute or another to gender stereotype because it’s too natural for humans. This being said, every individual needs to expand their thinking, ironically, to be able to reach the point where the one only connects male with penis and female with vagina. Not really the potential that these two genitalia will bring to an individual.

    This really needs to take effect in the numerous obstacles that impedes the neutrality of genders starting with parents all the way down to the media.

  50. Learning about socio-gender relations and how we categorize gender at such a young age, completely startled, and took me by surprise. I was shocked at my ignorance towards the issue and how much of an impact it really has. I think it is important to give a child a broad range of choices and options at the beginning of their life. Whether giving them a ball to play with or a barbie should be their choice. They should be able to choose their skills and strenghts. The way Kathy Witterick and David Stocker are raising their baby Storm, I believe is a great way to influence their child to do things to their liking. Humans, growing up are highly impacted by the way people treat and guide them. Could the narrow way we raise boys and girls limit them to reaching their full potential?
    Although this idea is a great way to surpass those constrains, nobody could completely dodge the impact of gender in our society. Everything from cloths, movies, to food impacts and forms gender. Whether the child gets confused about its gender, follow the norms, or steer off in the direction it pleases, they will never be able to escape the impact and influence.

  51. This is a nice idea but unrealistic. We live in a society that wants answers to everything, so if you tell somebody it is not a boy or girl yet then they will freak out. Also, they may be able to keep it up for the first few months or maybe even a couple years but there is no way to completely guard somebody from being influenced by societies gender norms unless they are completely removed from society. The child will probably be very confused by this and I would not be surprised if it develops mental problems, especially social problems.

    • Santosh Kalidindi

      I agree with Melissa that this idea is unrealistic and in a way pointless because eventually the child will grow up curious enough to figure out his gender along with the rest of the people who know him. As previous bloggers have pointed out there is a difference between sex and gender. Sex is for the most part unchangeable and therefore the parents can do nothing to change the sex of their child, however gender is something derived by culture. Therefore, I think the parents should not focus on sex as it will mean absolutely nothing once the child figures it out. Additionally, it is nearly impossible to live a life in modern society without being influenced by its many stereotypes in addition to just sex. Therefore, I think their time would be better spent helping to raise a child that is comfortable with who is and independent of cultural biases.

    • I used to think that way and thought parents like this were silly but then I found out my son is intersex. (What we thought was a strictly urological condition turned out to be an intersex condition and we didn’t know until he was in college!) About one in 100 people are not, strictly speaking, either male or female but something in between. So…maybe people will just need to freak out and get used to not putting other people in neat little boxes.

  52. When I meet new people, I like to look into their eyes and listen to their words to find out who they are and how they think. The type of packaging they choose to present themselves in does not matter to me in the least. Reading the online story of Storm and the thought process and ideologies of Storm’s parents causes the “hippie” spirit of the 70’s in me to grin and wish them the very best and hope that others would be as brave to attempt to do the same.

    The realistic, modern-day parent side of me knows that unless this family were to live in a gender-free village, tribe, or commune, free of social structures, constraints, and expectations with other like-minded souls, this new little baby will become the focus of much unhealthy publicity, scrutiny, and possible criticism because this story has made it to the media. Though I’m all for the intelligent intentions of Storm’s parents in their hope to allow Storm to be as free from social limitations and expectations as long as possible, I do not believe there is much chance of success in avoiding some potentially negative outcomes or aftermath of the public announcement of their decision.

    The ensuing debates and discussions will of course be interesting and lively, so there is hope that people will get to expand their minds and become more open to the possibility of a future gender-free society, but I believe this will all come about at the expense of Storm’s privacy and could possibly ultimately affect Storm’s self-esteem. The multiple issues this story raises will either lead to a lot of heated opinions and finger-pointing, with not much really changing in terms of how gender affects our social structures, or it could possibly spark a new trend of future like-minded parents, inspired to follow in the footsteps of Storm’s parents.

  53. Anthalanette Andrews

    Baby Named “Storm.” Sex Unknown
    I believe that this may cause some controversy. I feel if the parents want to allow the child the freedom to choose whom he/she wants to be then that’s OK. However, based on the sex of the child I believe that there is significance to who the child really is. On the other hand we see it everyday where as sex doesn’t play a part within the individual it is all about who that individual is choosing to be. I must say that things have really changed; when I was coming up we did not have the choice of choosing who or what we wanted to be. Hopefully one day it will be revealed as to who “Storm” really is.

  54. Frankly it’s none of anyone’s business what the parents would like to do for Storm. They want the baby to find out for him or herself what gender he or she is. Is that so wrong? They don’t want Storm to conform to what society says a girl or boy is and/or should be. I’m all for it. I’ve been told not to wear sneakers because they’re for boys. To this day I still haven’t stopped wearing sneakers. I like the ones made for boys because they look better and the colors are nicer. I feel more comfortable in pants although I wear skirts, shorts, and dresses on occasionally. That doesn’t make me any less of a girl. I was watching Sister Sister and Tamera was mad at her boyfriend because when they watched Titanic he thought the movie had it right. The women and children were put in boats before the men. What if the women and children want to stay on the boat with their husbands, uncles, brothers, fathers, boyfriends, etc? Shouldn’t their opinions and thoughts be listened to as well? Anyway Tamera wanted the men to treat the women with respect and vice versa. She wanted the right to drown with the men on the ship or the right to be one of the last people on the ship regardless if she were a man or woman.

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