Saturday, 27 June 2009

This is interesting as hell. A Swedish couple are refusing to impose gender norms on their child, Pop.

“We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset,” Pop’s mother said. “It's cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead.”

The child's parents said so long as they keep Pop’s gender a secret, he or she will be able to avoid preconceived notions of how people should be treated if male or female.

Pop's wardrobe includes everything from dresses to trousers and Pop's hairstyle changes on a regular basis. And Pop usually decides how Pop is going to dress on a given morning.

There seem to be two great benefits here. Firstly, greater autonomy for the child - avoiding all the "don't play with dolls unless they're soldiers" crap. Secondly and most importantly, a lot of people find that their gender doesn't match their sex, and I can only imagine that being raised without the weight of society demanding that your behaviour match what's between your legs helps in those cases.

The article quotes an essential psychologist who disapproves, but I don't buy her objection:

“I don’t think that trying to keep a child’s sex a secret will fool anyone, nor do I think it’s wise or ethical,” says Pinker. “As with any family secret, when we try to keep an elemental truth from children, it usually blows up in the parent’s face, via psychosomatic illness or rebellious behaviour.”

But what truth is being kept from Pop? They know what they look like naked - Pop knows hir biological sex. And Pop's gender is not decided, and wouldn't be decided even if s/he were being raised traditionally. We don't realise this because we expect everyone's gender to conform to their sex, and are totally shocked if our child turns out to be trans. But the fact that the majority decide their gender does match their sex doesn't change the fact that that is a decision. Pop's parents are taking the step of waiting for their child to answer that question in their own time. I think that's great.

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