Via Sweden’s The Local comes this report (link here) about two parents who “have stirred up debate in the country by refusing to reveal whether their two-and-a-half-year-old child is a boy or a girl”.
In an interview with newspaper Svenska Dagbladet in March, the parents were quoted saying their decision was rooted in the feminist philosophy that gender is a social construction.
I really don’t want to go over all that constructivist/essentialist trans 101 stuff again; I think that fixating on the nature/nurture debate misses the point. Which is, this isn’t about how or why we are who we are, but how we live our lives in a world where gender is policed so heavily, particularly for anyone who’s in some way at odds with society’s default binary settings.
“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.
Although Pop knows that there are physical differences between a boy and a girl, Pop’s parents never use personal pronouns when referring to the child – they just say Pop.
Which all sounds pretty wonderful, actually. I just wish that more parents would raise their children in a similar way. I say that, not only because I think it would be helpful for society in beginning to develop an approach to gender identity which does not marginalise, exclude and oppress those who are gender variant, but also because I fear that one child brought up in isolation like this may be having far too much responsibility placed on hir.
It’s a huge leap in the dark and only time will tell if the experiment will succeed according to the parents’ criteria. However, the child’s needs must come first and I hope that when ze does start to clearly define hir own gender identity that hir parents will be equally supportive and not insist on continuing to impose their own constructivist views on hir.
Irrespective of hir gender self-identification, I hope that Pop is able to grow up a healthy and happy human and that this social experiment, although interesting in its attempted application of an abstract academic theory, has no adverse effects on hir.