Tuesday, May 24, 2011
There has been a lot of talk on the Internet and in traditional media about a Toronto couple that has decided not to reveal the sex of their child to anyone other than the midwife and the child's older brothers. This is not the first time this has happened -- a couple in Sweden got a lot of press for doing the same thing a few years ago (I haven't been able to find any updates on that story, but would be interested in seeing how things are going now that the child is four).
My thoughts on this are quite simple:
- I agree that it is best to shield small children from gender stereotypes and being pigeon-hold into specific roles, likes and dislikes.
- I think that most children will begin to identify with a gender at a certain age (my guess based on what I've seen/read would be around 3 to 5 years old), whether that gender has been pushed on them or not. If a gender has been pushed on them that does not fit, that may be about the age when they start to feel uncomfortable with the gender that has been ascribed to them.
- I think that the most damaging gender stereotyping starts at about that same age and continues through to adulthood, so I'm not sure that making a baby/toddler genderless will make much difference except perhaps in those children who would have been labelled with the wrong gender (transgender).
Ultimately, my opinion is that:
- If parents do not want to reveal the sex of their child, then it isn't a big deal because the child will probably reveal his/her gender soon enough. The child is unlikely to go through life as genderless unless the child so chooses.
- Regardless of whether the parents reveal the sex of a baby/small child, I think that there is work to be done in battling gender stereotypes.
What do you think? Does it really matter if parents opt not to reveal the sex of their child? Does it make a difference (positive or negative)?
Image credit: HORIZON on flickr