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Thursday
May262011

Baby Raised Genderless Is Bad Experiment, Say Experts

David De Lossy/Digital Vision(TORONTO) -- No one knows the sex of Storm Stocker, a four-month-old baby from Toronto. Only his parents, his midwives, and his two older brothers have ever peeked beneath the diaper.

That's because his -- or is it her -- parents, Kathy Witterick, 38, and David Stocker, 39, want to raise their child genderless.

When Storm came into the world in a birthing pool on New Year's Day, they sent out this email: "We 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."

Even Storm's brothers, 2-year-old Kio and 5-year-old Jazz, along with one family friend have been sworn to secrecy.

"What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children," Stocker told the Toronto Star. "It's obnoxious."

The newspaper was barraged with critical responses and even Storm's grandparents, though supportive, said they resented explaining their gender-free baby to friends and coworkers.

While child development experts applaud the family's efforts to raise their child free of the constraints of gender stereotypes, they say the parents have embarked on a psychological experiment that could be "potentially disastrous."

"To raise a child not as a boy or a girl is creating, in some sense, a freak," said Dr. Eugene Beresin, director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. "It sets them up for not knowing who they are."

"To have a sense of self and personal identity is a critical part of normal healthy development," he said. "This blocks that and sets the child up for bullying, scapegoating, and marginalization."

"We all have sexual identity," said Beresin. "The mission to have masculine and feminine traits more equalized and more flexible and not judgmental is awesome in a utopian community. But we take pride in our sexual identity."

The family gleaned the idea for unique child-rearing from the 1978 children's book, X: A Fabulous Child's Story, by Lois Gould. The author uses symbolism and allegory to explore gender "creativity."

"Identity formation is really critical for every human being and part of that is gender," Beresin said. "There are many cultural and social forces at play."

Witterick and Stocker have been besieged with phone calls since the media grabbed on to their personal story.

"Thanks for your interest," said Storm's mother on a recorded message when ABC News called for comment. "We are really swamped with calls right now and our first priority is the needs of our family."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio