Did I get your attention? Good. But this isn’t that kind of story. It’s actually a story about a family, this time from the UK, who chose to keep their baby’s sex a secret for five years. Through the baby’s infancy, toddlerhood and all the way up until “it” was about to enter elementary school the parents, Beck Laxton and Kieran Cooper, referred to their child as “the infant” and only told a few close friends and family members the sex of the child.
But five years after birth the secret’s out, and it’s a boy!
The family managed to keep the secret all this time by giving the baby a gender-neutral name, Sasha, and allowing him to wear clothing of his choice be it meant for boys or girls.
Keeping my baby’s sex private for just the nine months she was in the womb was hard enough for me. I’m not sure I could have kept going. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to share the information. It was that I didn’t want to know myself. My husband and I chose not to find out the baby’s sex before she was born because we felt like that was cheating. But guests at my baby shower did not care for our decision, and they let me know. They griped they didn’t know whether to buy the baby a pink blanket or blue one. I thought, what’s the difference? I don’t think the baby will care. “It” can’t even see color for the first few weeks.
This family managed to hold off the masses because they were committed to questioning the rules around stereotyping. Laxton thinks it’s stupid. I happen to agree and have said as much here when I wrote about the Canadian couple that did not reveal the sex of their child, Storm. I get it, and while gender is a societal construct with which I don’t agree, I can’t quite understand some of the actions Laxton has taken.
Laxton asserts she provides her son with plenty of gender-neutral toys (although the toy box includes an abundance of dolls) and allows him to choose his clothing from both his brother’s and his sister’s closets, she does not allow ultra masculine outfits like those baring skulls or a camouflage print. My question is why allow ultra girly dress and toys but not ultra boyey ones? If the idea is to cast off the limitations imposed by gender assignment, shouldn’t the child be exposed to both? Perhaps he has been and his preference is for glittery, pink tutus. Sasha is wearing one such outfit along with pink Mary Janes and butterfly wings in a 2010 card Laxton sent out.
Laxton says kids like sparkly things, and I agree. I have allowed my kids, one boy and one girl, to wear pretty much anything and play with all kinds of toys. I’ve always said there is no such thing as a “girl” toy or a “boy” toy. Toys are for every child, and the preschool they went to firmly enforced this idea. The school offered dress-up accessories that all the children were encouraged to use and the teachers were resolute in their stance that no colors were to be assigned sexual identities. All colors for all people!
But I do know one thing. If I hadn’t allowed my son to wear skulls and cross bones when he was little, he would have been crushed. For the first several years of his life I think he actually believed he was a pirate. And when my daughter was young she had a meltdown if I didn’t put a clip in her hair.
I commend the parents for taking action against societal rules they feel are not only limiting but damaging to a child’s potential. That is not an easy thing to do. But I wonder how much of the action is directed by the child’s desire and how much from their own.