If you were interested in or surprised by Lorber’s reference to a 1972 article in Ms. Magazine that discussed the possibility of raising a genderless child, a child who might grow up free from the limiting gendered behaviors that we’re taught from the moment we’re born, you might be interested to know that contemporary parents are still searching for ways to move beyond such rigid gender stereotyping. While that article was a fantasy in 1972, it might be a reality for a pair of parents in Toronto.
In 2012, Storm’s parents decided not to reveal Storm’s sex. The only people who know are Storm’s siblings and the two midwives who oversaw Storm’s birth. While some have been supportive, the couple has faced criticism, not just from neighbors, but from the right-wing news media.
Take a look at the full article about Storm and Storm’s parents here.
This year, Germany became the first country in Europe to list a third choice on its birth certificates in addition to its two traditional gender options, allowing parents to opt out of listing their child’s gender as simply male or female:
“The legislative change allows parents to opt out of determining their baby’s gender, thereby allowing those born with characteristics of both sexes to choose whether to become male or female in later life. Under the new law, individuals can also opt to remain outside the gender binary altogether” (Heine).
However, it’s unclear whether this will spark a revision of other legal documents that require someone to identify their gender. But consider what a difference such an option might have made for someone like Cheryl Chase and her parents.
- How does criticism of Storm’s parents’ decision reveal what Lorber says about the importance we ascribe to a two-gender system in Western culture?
- What obstacles do parents face in trying to create less rigid gender identity in raising their child? What obstacles do you think the child will face as he/she gets older?
- Last week, we talked about education/schools being a form of social control. What obligation do you think schools and educators have in enabling less rigid gender stereotypes? Why do you think this hasn’t yet been part of the discussions about education reform in this country?