Anoush is a one-year-old baby whose parents have decided not to reveal their child's gender. They refer to their little toddler as 'they' and want to leave it up to their child to decide when they are older which gender, if any, to identify with.
"It's about opportunities, and by pigeon-holing children into 'boy' and 'girl', we exclude possibilities." Thats the opinion of Anoush's grandmother, who was interviewed this week about the fact that her grandchild is being raised gender-neutral. She told the James O'Brien show that she did think it was out of the ordinary but respected her daughter.
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"Absolutely, I know exactly where I was and how I felt when I was first told, and I rather thought it would die a death once they’d had the baby. I kept a journal when my girls were little and I wrote in it when Hobbit [her daughter] was very young that I would respect however she raised her children. So I got on board and I totally respected what they were doing".
Camille from Bristol, didn't find out the child's biological gender until three months ago. Hobbit Humphrey, 38, and Jake England-Johns, 35, celebrated the birth of their baby over a year ago. Humphrey explained to the BBC that she wanted to protect her child from unconscious gender bias.
"When I got pregnant, we then were having a discussion about how we were going to mitigate the unconscious bias. And we figured that the only way we could do that was just not to tell people.”
But is it fair to raise a child without recognising their gender? It is true that we live in a world where such bias exists but this choice has now been taken out of the hands of the child. Surely, despite the bias (and with respect for those who choose to be gender fluid or neutral) being male or female isn't such a terrible thing?
"Could this type of social experimentation have longer term implications"
Shouldn't the child have the right to live their life without hiding their sex? Or will they feel isolated because that choice was made for them rather than by them at such a young age?
The risk is that the parents might be successful in removing the gender bias but that's not to say other problems could present themselves. Could this type of social experimentation have longer-term implications on a baby who may have wished to be recognised as the person they were biologically born as.
This week, in an emotional post, singer Sam Smith revealed he now prefers not to use gender pronouns associated as male or female, instead he wishes to use "they". It was a brave and obviously well-considered move by a grown adult who has chosen to live their life as such.
That choice seems to have been taken away from Anoush.
In January, actress Kate Hudson, made headlines when she said in an interview that she wanted to raise her daughter "individually regardless - like a genderless approach. She later had to clarify by saying "This whole clickbait tactic of saying I'm raising my daughter to be 'genderless' is silly and frankly doesn't even make sense. I just try to raise my kids to be good people with the best tools to face this big crazy world."
Blurring the lines when it comes to how you perceive yourself sexually or physically isn't something anybody takes lightly.
As we move through this world, our sense of self is tied up in many aspects, including gender. Perhaps once we've established that sense of self, we want to change it, or prefer not to identify with it at all, but the point is that reaching that decision is in our own hands and after our brains have sufficiently developed.
My daughter dresses usually in gender-neutral clothing - I don't think much about her grey jumpers and yellow leggings. I don't make her wear them or encourage her to put them on. I don't steer her towards dresses or away from them either. I leave the choice up to her as much as possible.
We all want to give our children as much as possible and protect them from harm.
How we do that is very different.
I just hope that this decision is compatible with Anoush's sense of self, rather than their parents.
Image via Unsplash.com
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