As a prepubescent boy, I remember watching a PBS special about gender and how from the moment we are born people force gender stereotypes upon us. The special I watched back in the 1970s even reported that assigning a blue or pink blanket to a newborn is already fraught with expectations for that respective gender. Somehow I knew in my heart this to be true and thus the PBS special really resonated with me.
Now as a middle aged man who focuses on gender identity/conformity and issues around sexual orientation I am even more concerned with how children grow up and the expectations adults thrust upon them. I came across an article about a couple with a precious, beautiful baby named Storm. The couple, David and Witterick, have decided to keep Storm’s gender a secret for now. Storm will be raised without gender expectations or stereotypes. Witterick, Storm’s mothers says:
When the baby comes out, even the people who love you the most and know you so intimately, the first question they ask is, ‘Is it a girl or a boy?…If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs.
I applaud David and Witterick and can only imagine how liberating it must be for Storm to grow up as a human being and blossom into the gender that is appropriate for Storm. Here I think it is appropriate to underscore the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. While there is some overlap between gender identity and sexual orientation, the two are quite different. I am cisgendered, which means that my brain and emotions match my physical gender. Someone who is transgendered the physical does not match up with the brain and emotions. Storm will grow up with out any pressure from the family as to gender identity. When one looks at the statistics of how many transgendered people endure bullying, the correlation between bullying and suicide, depression and contracting STDs, the need to grow up without expectations around gender is imperative for the health and safety of our youth. I’m hopeful and happy for Storm. Click here to see the full story.