“So it’s a boy, right?” a neighbour calls out as Kathy Witterick walks by, her four month old baby, Storm, strapped to her chest in a carrier. The neighbours know Witterick and her husband, David Stocker, are raising a genderless baby. But they don’t pretend to understand it.
While there’s nothing ambiguous about Storm’s genitalia, they aren’t telling anyone whether their third child is a boy or a girl.
The only people who know are Storm’s brothers, Jazz, 5, and Kio, 2, a close family friend and the two midwives who helped deliver the baby in a birthing pool at their Toronto home on New Year’s Day.
When Storm was born, the couple sent an email to friends and family: “We've decided not to share Storm's sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm's lifetime (a more progressive place? ...).”
Witterick and Stocker believe they are giving their children the freedom to choose who they want to be, unconstrained by social norms about males and females. Some say their choice is alienating.
In an age where helicopter parents hover nervously over their kids micromanaging their lives, and tiger moms ferociously push their progeny to get into Harvard, Stocker, 39, and Witterick, 38, believe kids can make meaningful decisions for themselves from a very early age.
Stocker teaches at City View Alternative, a tiny school west of Dufferin Grove Park, with four teachers and about 60 Grade 7 and 8 students whose lessons are framed by social-justice issues around class, race and gender.
First thing, that baby is definitely a boy. There is an outside chance that the baby is an ugly girl. Now to the wonderful parents Kathy and David. Toronto has its share of granola-eating, alternative-schooling, bicycle-riding, wild flower-gardening families. They are mostly harmless. Yes the helicopter parents are annoying and produce even more annoying children. But equally annoying are parents who let their kids make all their own decisions. My favorite is American Alpine skier Picabo Street. Picabo's parents decided to let Picabo choose her own name when she was old enough so for the first two years of her life, she was called "Little Girl." When Picabo was two, her mother took her to get a US passport for a trip to Mexico. The passport office wouldn't accept "Little Girl" as her daughter's first name and told her she had two weeks to give her a real name. So, Stubby and Dee named their daughter Picabo (after a small village in Idaho.) When she was four, Picabo's parents said she could change her name but she decided to keep it.