Storm Warning

So apparently we’re letting babies decide what gender they want to be these days.

Gee, can’t wait to see how this trend turns out.

Alright, I’m overstating. But there is this couple somewhere who named their kid Storm and aren’t telling anyone – anyone – what the kid’s gender is. Storm’s grandparents don’t know. Storm’s brothers do, and they’re not allowed to tell. They’re five and two, so we’ll see how that goes. Their names are Jazz and Kio. I’m not making it up; there’s a blog about it in the New York Times, so it must be true.

Baby Storm with a brother (pic from thestar.com)

It seems to me that a line needs to be drawn, here.

You want to name your kid something ridiculous, fine. You let your children decide when to get their hair cut or not, and let them choose what to wear… I’m going to have a tough time with that to some degree, but it’s your morning, so if you don’t mind that it takes two hours and 23 shirts before your kid settles on an outfit for the day, fine. But you want to keep the kid’s gender a secret from the world so that the kid can choose what to be for itself… I think you need your head examined.

Here’s why:

I get that there are types of people who believe that gender identification can sometimes force a child into a role that the child doesn’t necessarily naturally want to embody (no awkwardness intended with that choice of words). Personally, I think we’re a little oversensitive about that stuff. But agreed: if a girl wants to play with trucks and a boy wants to play with dolls, don’t yank the toys out of their hands. Girls don’t always have to wear pink and boys don’t always have to wear blue. But to go so far as to not identify the child by his or her gender?

We don’t think this is actually going to screw the kid up?

I’m pretty sure it’s going to screw the kid up.

Let’s play this out a bit: Storm isn’t going to go to school, because Storm’s parents practice “off-schooling,” which is a variation of “home-schooling.” In other words: no classes. The kids just learn about that which they are curious, when such curiosity strikes. (I find this infuriatingly irresponsible, if charming.) But let’s assume Storm is at least allowed to play with other kids. Some kids just sort of assume Storm’s gender. Storm apparently has no idea whether Storm is a boy or a girl, so maybe Storm doesn’t resist any kind of label. But with half the kids thinking Storm is a boy and the other half thinking Storm is a girl, the kids will get confused. And so will Storm.

It doesn’t take much to get kids to mock another child. A cowlick will do just fine; a non-specific gender is a freaking gold mine. Which means Storm is going to get tortured with the whole “You don’t even know if you’re a boy or a girl!” thing. They’ll run through the physical identifiers of how to tell. This makes Storm uncomfortable with physical features. Fast-forward to college when Storm can’t develop a healthy romantic relationship with another person (regardless of whether Storm is heterosexual or homosexual) because Storm can’t really deal with what’s going on down there, because Storm’s parents made gender identification taboo, which meant they made genital identification taboo. You can’t learn how to have healthy sexual relationships without learning about your own genitals, which you can’t learn without figuring out your gender.

No Mother’s and Father’s Day cards for you two.

Or maybe it doesn’t get that far. Maybe other kids try to identify Storm’s gender before they’re school-aged. Once Storm realizes that Storm doesn’t know whether Storm is a boy or a girl, but that there’s this handy little way of figuring it out, Storm is dropping trou all over the place, trying to get someone to tell Storm which category Storm belongs in.

I’m sure that won’t cause any problems.

I guess Storm’s parents think it shouldn’t matter. Storm’s mother wants to know when people will stop categorizing other people by their gender. She lets her other two sons wear whatever they want, which often results in a lot of pink and sparkly things. She apparently thinks that’s a product of the children freely associating with whatever they want.

I think it’s a product of them being bright and shiny, which kids just tend to like. Girly clothes are more likely to be bright and shiny. So kids like girly clothes.

Come to think of it, I suppose I shouldn’t refer to her as Storm’s mother. Storm’s XX-chromosomed parent, then.

Storm’s parents are selfish idiots.

Of course your kids’ gender matters, you numbskulls. Kids need an identity. More than anything, they need a solid foundation on which to learn who they are. If you don’t even allow the kid to know whether he or she is a boy or a girl, it’s going to put everything else about the kid squarely in the “I’m Not Sure” category.  And not because the world assigns appropriate behaviors to the kid and then stands up-in-arms when the kid doesn’t adhere. It’s because there are fundamental truths in life, and you just have to deal with it.

I was born a girl. I remain a girl. I’m straight, but I don’t think I’m straight because the world told me I’m a girl. When I was little, you know who every single one of my playmates were? Boys. Every one of them, until I was six. That’s all we had on our block, and my sisters were too young to play outside with us, and so I dealt with being around boys. Taught me how to stand up for myself.

Except for how I was always getting tied up and left on someone’s front stoop because being the only girl apparently meant I was the one who got tied up in Cops and Robbers/Good Guys-Bad Guys/Cowboys and Indians. (Yes, yes, I know, those were all horrifically stereotypical games.) The point is not that I was the girl so I got tied up. Here’s the point: the rope was invisible. I sat there believing the boys had tied me up with invisible rope.

It was my own damned fault I didn’t have the sense to get up off the stoop.

I can tell you unquestionably that the gender differential never entered my mind. Mostly I was just happy to have a moment of peace, with two little sisters at home and five mean, rowdy, rough boys as my friends, who pushed me, hit me, and (once) stabbed me in the arm with a pencil.

I learned how to fight back.

Storm’s parents are using Storm to make a stupid sociological statement. I hate parents who do that. I hate parents who take their little kids to political rallies and make them hold signs expressing an opinion they can’t possibly have. I hate parents who decide that their children are their own miniaturized adorable pawns to promote whatever agenda or opinion they harbor.

It’s a kid. You idiot. A child. Not a posterboard.

These parents are the types of people who will wax poetic about how lovely it is that children so soon develop the ability to express themselves and form thoughts and values. But first they use them as a media-grab to make a point. And then what happens when Storm does identify with a gender? Do the parents allow Storm to do so? Or do they insist on making Storm explain why Storm is identifying with this gender? “Well, are you making that selection based on your genitalia?”

I hope Storm figures out who Storm is… and then figures out who Storm’s parents are… and then finds new ones.

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12 thoughts on “Storm Warning

  1. storms brother has pigtails… this brings to mind Timmy Mezzy from the 1985 Michael J. Fox movie ‘Poison Ivy’… Timmy dressed up to escape summer camp, though. whereas this kid probably gets forced to have that hairdo by his parents (who are trying to prove that they are allowing their boys complete freedom?… freedom, so long as it falls within their definition of how one should express that freedom, by doing the opposite of the gender stereotype, rather than doing what you actually want, whcih might fall anywhere on the spectrum). Also, how long do you think it’ll take before someone other than the parents change storm’s diaper and discover if he’s an ‘inny’ or an ‘outy’ in the further-south-than-belly-button region

    • Precisely the thought that I had… these parents basically just want their kids to behave opposite of what they “are” to make a point. I’ve revised the post a bit to include more info I found (because I basically just banged the post out before I had to jump in the shower). These are, to be sure, alternatively-lifestyled parents. Co-sleeping on mattresses on the floor and whatnot. Fine, crunchy granola is an interesting flavor… but let’s not get carried away and use the kids to make the point.

      And I’m guessing no one else is allowed to change Storm’s diaper.

  2. There’s so much I want to say about this, but I probably shouldn’t swear on your blog, and you waxed pretty eloquently about a couple of fucking jack-a-ninnies that should never have been allowed to breed in the first place. Ooops.

  3. I don’t even know where to begin with this.. it’s all too crazy for my little mind to comprehend.
    They really need to introduce “baby licences” and deem potential parents worthy of bringing in the next generation. Why is it the dumbest people breed the most?
    As for Storm’s chances of remaining “gender-free” – I suspect all will become clear at the first exchange of “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine…” Parents be damned…

  4. So, OK, I’m Older Eyes, the cross-pollinating blogger. Since you and one of my other favorite bloggers, Cheryl of The Art of Being Conflicted, posted on the same topic from very different viewpoints, I thought I’d introduce you. Cheryl’s post is at
    A Rose By Any Other Name

    I, by the way, think these parents are Meshugana. I don’t know if it will hurt the kids … but why experiment on kids. Get a dog, for Pete’s sake.

  5. Thanks to Bud, I wandered over here. Great post. We are on the exact same page as far as how I percieve these misguided parents. You did articulate the matter much clearer than I did. I actually rewrote that post several times as I felt on the previous writes that I was nearly ranting in my disapproval and frankly “who the hell am I to tell others how they are parenting. (albeit like idiots) I think they are causing gender confusion not hindering Storm from dealing with stereotyping. If they want to offer their kids the guidance/wisdom not to be defined by their gender…ok..but to imply that gender is something to hide, that can only result in issues down the road as you showed with examples. Loved your take on this.

    • Thank you, Cheryl! Thanks for wandering over, thanks for the compliments, and thanks for subscribing! I kind of felt a little bad judging Storm’s parents, too, and generally I like to keep a very open mind… but some things are just ridiculous, and the more I thought about it (and even as I wrote about it), the more irritated I got. I do think it all comes down to dealing with fundamental truths in life. Did you publish your post somewhere? I’d like to read it but WP is implying you’re not a WordPress blogger.

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