Sasha & Storm
This post is part e-introduction and part thank-you-note for the parents of Sasha and Storm. Sasha and their (now his) family live in the UK and Storm and their family live in Canada. It was coming across news articles about Sasha and Storm and their families several years ago that planted the seed for my own gender-creative parenting approach.
If you Google “Storm genderless baby” or “Sasha gender neutral child” thousands of results will come up. Both of these children and their families gained international attention when their parents decided not to assign a gender to their infants. (No we aren’t parenting this way for international attention). The families each e-mailed their friends and family a birth announcement when their sweet new babies were born and informed the people in their lives that they wouldn’t be gendering their kiddos. Of course, news like that is intriguing and traveled fast, and news sources caught wind of what seemed to be a hot story for the press. The families gave some interviews, but for the most part seem to stay under the radar.
News articles were written about them, “experts” weighed in on the so-called social experiment of not subscribing to stereotypes, commenters wrote supportive messages and others wrote abusive messages. It was actually in the comment sections of these news articles that I was made aware of just how necessary gender-creative parenting is, as I found people’s assumptions about traditional and stereotypical gender roles staggering and disturbing.
I also disagreed with many of the “experts” the news sources found to counter the families’ parenting decisions. Select pediatricians and psychiatrists stated that the children wouldn’t have an identity because they weren’t being gendered, which isn’t true, and unfortunately the people who fall more into the “abusive-commenting-troll” camp are likely to take the misinformed psychiatrists’ statement and run with it.
I searched to see if the parents of Sasha and Storm had a website that provided practical daily advice for gender-creative families, but alas, there wasn’t much. Sasha’s parent, Beck, does have a personal blog where they have written some posts about Sasha, and Storm’s parent, Kathy, contributed a chapter to the book Chasing Rainbows.
Frankly, educating the world about gender-creative childhood is not the responsibility of Storm and Sasha’s parents. From reading about them, one can tell that their world doesn’t revolve around gender, which is fantastic, and the reality of gender-creative childhoods. They go camping and look for bugs, they play dress up and dance and sing - they do all the things that other kids do, without the limits or expectations of gender stereotypes.
As a gender expert, I do feel like it is my responsibility to help my friends, family, students and community unlearn gender stereotypes. Since discovering feminism and the importance of gender equality, I have had a bazillion discussions about how we can make the world a better, more egalitarian place – long before Zoomer was in my life.
I am so grateful that I stumbled across Sasha and Storm’s stories years ago. I am without-a-doubt convinced that raising Zoomer with the freedom to explore and play with gender is the right choice. Sasha and Storm’s families provided me with a glimpse of what I was in for as a parent of a gender-creative baby. I had years to mull over the concept of not assigning a gender to my future child, I had over a year to discuss the approach with my husband before we had Z (I have to say, I fell in love with Brent even more when he said, “it makes so much sense, why wouldn’t we parent that way?”), we have had time to create RaisingZoomer.com for our family and friends, and are as prepared as we can be for the questions and comments we will receive.
I hope our friends and family learn more about Sasha and Storm and see how loving and supportive their families are. There are certainly more than three kids out there who are being raised in a gender-creative way and Zoomer most certainly won’t be the last. I strongly believe that gender-creative parenting is the way of the future (I actually think it’s long overdue).
So thank you Beck and Kieran for Raising Sasha, and thank you David and Kathy for Raising Storm, you inspired Kyl and Brent for Raising Zoomer.