Monday May 30th, 2011
There’s a Storm currently brewing in Toronto – a child whose parents are raising
hir without revealing hir sex to the world. Four-month-old Storm is being billed
by the media as a “genderless
child,” which isn’t entirely accurate. In all likelihood, Storm has a gender
– we just don’t know what it is yet.
And truly, it’s none of our
business. Most of us don’t even know this family, so they really owe us no
explanation as to the sex, gender, or even favorite foods of their children. But
that doesn’t stop the media and the blogosphere from its relentless criticism of
these parents and its hand-wringing concern over the fate of this poor child.
One blogger even went so far as to call Storm a “genderless
‘It’ child.” Now that certainly shows compassion for the baby, doesn’t it?
“It” is the most dehumanizing word in the English language for a person – and as
someone who has been called that as an adult, I can’t imagine starting out in
the world with the offensive pronoun already on my permanent Internet
I was briefly interviewed about Storm by Jim
Richards on Newstalk 1010, a radio
station out of Toronto, but, as is the case with all radio talk shows, you
really need your 15-second elevator speech memorized, because you don’t get a
chance to discuss the situation in depth. This isn’t Richards’ fault – it’s just
the way of talk radio and the fast-paced, sound-byte world we live
Richards was concerned about Storm. Although he favored allowing a
child to choose which gendered things that child was interested in, he also
favored raising the child in a gendered manner consistent with the child’s sex
assigned at birth, and then taking a wait-and-see attitude with regard to the
child’s gender identity and expression.
I actually agree with him.
Western culture (and many other cultures) assigns gender based on primary and
secondary sex characteristics, and it is likely that Storm has some
characteristics now that indicate a physical maleness or femaleness.
even though Storm’s parents intend to home school the child – or, as they
prefer, to “unschool” the child at home – Storm will eventually have to go out
into the world, where zie will be exposed to cultural gender expectations. Storm
will also eventually go through puberty, and this puberty will cause changes in
Storm’s appearance that will dictate how others respond to hir, as well as how
others expect zie will respond to them.
Regardless of Storm’s internal
gender identity and external gender expression, zie will need to be equipped to
deal with these cultural expectations – to embrace them, reject them, or accept
them with stipulations. And even prior to that, it is likely that Storm will
start to manifest gendered behaviors and preferences.
And that, I think,
is the crux of the matter and what will prove ultimately to be crucial to
Storm’s development, identity, and well-being – whether or not Storm’s parents
allow for and accept any gendered behaviors that Storm begins to display.
While I personally think that Storm should be given a gender and then
allowed to go wherever hir true gender identity takes hir, it’s really none of
my business. I think Storm will be fine as long as hir parents accept whatever
gendered behaviors Storm prefers to adopt.
If there is any real damage
to be done, it will occur if Storm’s parents refuse to permit the child’s
adoption of any culturally gendered behaviors to which the child gravitates and
with which zie is comfortable. If that happens – if Storm’s parents attempt to
lure hir away from displaying any gendered preferences or flat-out refuse to
allow gendered behaviors when the child exhibits them – then it will be as
detrimental as attempting to “change” trans children by forcing the to play with
“gender-appropriate” toys or forcing them to dress in “gender-appropriate”
At this time, Storm’s parents have given no indication that
they will forbid the child from expressing any internal gender identity that zie
feels. As long as they stick to that philosophy, I think Storm will be okay, and
the major damage will come when zie becomes old enough to see hir life dissected
across the Internet.
Until then, zie won’t know the difference – and
neither will we.
Each letter of the first name rules 9 years of life. Ages 0 to 27 are ruled by the sum of the first three letters of the name.
19 (S is the 19th letter of the alphabet) + 20 (t is the 20th letter of the alphabet) + 15 (o is the 15th letter of the alphabet) = 54
So from ages zero to twenty-seven Storm has the number 54 going on.
54 = Gender identity.