Is it right to raise your child gender neutral?
A couple in the UK, Beck Laxton and Kieran Cooper had a child 5 years ago, and decided that they would not say if it was a boy or a girl, preferring instead for the child to make that decision. Referring to the child as the infant, the child was always encouraged to play with toys that are typically seen as ‘boys’ (e.g. lego) and ‘girls’ (e.g. dolls).
Laxton and Cooper decided their approach before the child was born, not wanting to know the sex of the child to avoid the typical stereotypes it would force upon themselves. When the child was born, they gave what they felt was a gender-neutral name, Sasha, and kept the gender a secret from everyone except for a few close friends and family.
Laxton stated that she wanted to avoid ‘all that stereotyping’ which she believes is ‘fundamentally stupid’, saying ‘why would you want to slot people into boxes?’ She says that gender affects what children wear and what they can play with, and as such, it shapes the kind of person they become, and that it can ‘skew their potential’
However, now, as the child is at school, it is more difficult to maintain the gender anonymity, and they have revealed Sasha is a boy. At school Sasha often wears the girls uniform, and according to Laxton, has not encountered any comments, but that if he did, she is hoping her 5-year old will have the confidence to make a good response.
Is it fair that these parents have decided to raise their child to decide their own gender ‘naturally’? Did they avoid years of heartache for a child who grows up to realise they were born into the wrong body and struggles with the issues that arise from that? Or have they created a monster of media attention on an unwitting child who can now never decide for themselves if they wanted this attention in the first place?