Each quarter, my students read Lois Gould's 1972 short story, "X: A Fabulous Child's Story", in which fictional parents raise their fictional child without naming its gender so that it can grow up without internalizing gender stereotypes.
That story was written in 1972, but it seems that a pair of real parents in present-day Sweden have decided to try the exact same experiment with their child, who is, for the purposes of the article, called "Pop":
Pop’s parents, both 24, made a decision when their baby was born to keep Pop’s sex a secret. Aside from a select few – those who have changed the child’s diaper – nobody knows Pop’s gender; if anyone enquires, Pop’s parents simply say they don’t disclose this information.
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.
“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.
“I believe that the self-confidence and personality that Pop has shaped will remain for a lifetime,” said Pop’s mother.
LOVE this. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for these parents to constantly explain to people that they choose not to disclose Pop's sex, but it makes me smile to think that this child has made it to age 2 and a half without ever having to hear from family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers about how little boys or little girls are supposed to be and think and feel and behave and have to try to figure out which mold to conform to. It won't be so easy once Pop is exposed to lots of other kids and media influences, but until that point, I totally don't see any reason why kids have to be so identified by sex.
The rest of the article gets annoying by introducing a psychologist concern troll who feels it necessary to explain that there are "natural" differences between boys and girls, as if it could ever be possible to separate out social influences and know about such differences with any certainty:
Pinker says there are many ways that males and females differ from birth; even if gender is kept ‘secret,’ prenatal hormones developed in the second trimester of pregnancy already alter the way the child behaves and feels.
She says once children can speak, males tell aggressive stories 87 per cent of the time, while females only 17 per cent. In a study, children aged two to four were given a task to work together for a reward, and boys used physical tactics 50 times more than girls, she says.
First of all, 87 per cent is not 100 per cent, and 17 per cent is not 0 per cent, which tells us that there is more than one way to act like a boy or a girl. If you separate out genders in a study in order to look for differences, your biased ass will probably find them. Secondly, nothing about these studies proves that any of these differences are natural and not related to gender socialization. I can't imagine what citing these studies could possibly have to do with parents' decision not to associate everything in their child's life with pink/blue, doll/truck, and vagina/penis.