Toronto couple leave their baby’s gender a mystery

The gender of Storm, the 4-month-old child of Kathy Witterick and David Stocker in Toronto, has been kept a secret by the parents, who hope to protect the baby from society's boy-girl biases. The decision has been met with divided reaction online. (Toronto Star via Associated Press)The gender of Storm, the 4-month-old child of Kathy Witterick and David Stocker in Toronto, has been kept a secret by the parents, who hope to protect the baby from society’s boy-girl biases. The decision has been met with divided reaction online. (Toronto Star via Associated Press)
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Jayme Poisson, the Star staffer who wrote the story, spent a couple of days with the family and told the “Today” show she believes “they care very deeply about their children,” regardless of whether you agree with their approach.

The ‘70s “free to be you and me” strategy of gender neutral child-rearing had mixed results back then, noted Diane Ruble, a New York University researcher of early gender development.

Some girls loved Barbie at all costs, no matter how many toy trucks a parent or child researcher thrust her way.

“There’s been a little bit of movement, but not that much,” Ms. Ruble said. “I don’t expect this will have a major negative or powerful influence on Storm. It certainly has influenced the people who are objecting, however.”

Storm isn’t the first child put in this position by his or her parents. Books have been written on identical family experiments, and a Swedish couple tried it in 2009 with the child they called Pop. That couple told the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet at the time the decision stemmed from a feminist philosophy that gender is a social construction.

“We want Pop,” the mother said, “to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mold from the outset. It’s cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead.”

• Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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