One of the first questions asked by every body when you fall pregnant apart from when are you due? And are you excited? Is what are you having, a boy or a girl? Some parents choose not to find out until the birth, to add an element of surprise to the proceedings, some choose to find out to plan what colour clothes to buy and what colour the room should be.
However, Beck Laxton and Kieran Cooper have been at pains not to lumber their son with the stereotyping they fear that gender brings. So for 5 years they have kept his gender a secret from everyone (except for close family). To do this they simply called him ‘the infant’. As he grew older, he was encouraged to play with dolls as much as Lego, slept in a neutral yellow room and was allowed to wear both boys’ and girls’ clothes. Sasha was kept away from tv for the majority of his childhood too.
It is only now that Sasha has started primary school that the secret has become impossible to keep and they have started telling the wider world that Sasha is a boy.
So do you agree with the parents of Sasha, that bringing up your child as gender-neutral is healthy, to let your child decide what path he or she will follow. Or do you believe it is best to push the stereotype?
One convincing argument against Sasha’s case (and other similar one with a baby called ‘Storm’ in Canada) come from Dr Harold Koplewicz, a U.S. child psychiatrist, he says ‘When children are born, they’re not a blank slate,’ he said. ‘We do have male brains and female brains. There’s a reason why boys do more rough and tumble play; there’s a reason why girls have better language development skills.’ So basically he believes that we know what we are and our brain responds to certain things dependant on whether you are female or male, and in a way I agree with him.
Obviously being gender neutral is the best way to ensure your child acts how they want, but what’s to say they can’t do that by telling them what sex they are? It won’t make them like or dislike anything differently in their first few years of growth, if you allow them to pick the clothes or toys they want then what’s the difference? Especially if the parents are going to give up on it when they go to school anyway, as this is the first time external influences will have an affect on your child anyway. They will begin to want what their friends have anyway, gender-stereotyping doesn’t effect this choice at this stage, the peer pressure of what’s cool or not will have a bigger effect.