Friday, January 20, 2012

Your Child, the lab rat

From Yahoo via the original story at Cambridge News, we learn that a UK couple has kept their child's sex hidden from the world except for closest friends and family. Now that the boy - I mean human child - is five and entering school, the parents had to reveal his sex because schools apparently want to know stuff like that.

"Sasha," the article says, "dresses in clothes he likes -- be it hand-me-downs from his sister or his brother." I'd always thought kids that young generally dressed in the clothes with which their parents supplied them. Is there any chance that a 5 year old boy would choose to wear dresses and pink swimsuits without some guidance from Mom and Dad, especially Mom, since she's the one who usually pays closest attention to such things? For example, Sasha has plenty of dolls to play with, but Barbie is forbidden as are "hyper-masculine" toys and clothes (G.I. Joe, trucks, combat fatigues). Although Sasha has to wear a uniform at school, his mother dresses him in pants and a girl's blouse.

The boy's parents are Kieran and Beck. Beck is the mom (I'm pretty sure). The fact that one parent is female and the other male is important in that Sasha could not have been conceived otherwise. But post-conception, your sense of belonging to one or the other sex is not important. Why? "I wanted to avoid all that stereotyping," (Beck) Laxton said..."Stereotypes seem fundamentally stupid. Why would you want to slot people into boxes?"

So, those of us who are, theoretically, men, like me, who like guns and tools and, in younger days, playing football and admiring (with purest heart) beautiful women, do all those things because our understanding of ourselves and others is governed by stereotypes, not because of who we really are. We are blinded by them. I don't really love my wife because I can't see who she really is. I got so swept up in (enchanted by, knocked off my feet by, rendered spellbound by) her biological otherness that all this time I've been unable to appreciate the fact that her femininity, which had always seemed to me intimately connected to her biology, wasn't really important because I was allowing it to disguise her essential humanness. Ipso facto I haven't been able to fully appreciate my daughters, either; I've always delighted in the fact that they were girls, or appeared to be, in body and soul, but there's nothing but bad news these days, is there?

Some day, when we're a little more advanced, a new translation of the Bible will tell us that "God created humans in Its own image, in the image of God created It them; gender-neutral created It them..." He also told us to be fruitful and multiply. It's hard to do that in a gender-neutral fashion, but as long as we remember that the physical differences that allow it are truly trivial, we'll somehow suffer through it.

The Yahoo article concludes that

Maybe Sasha's early years will be character building, maybe he'll have a higher emotional quotient being raised with dual perspectives on gender. Or the reverse could be true: Sasha may have less of a formed identity because of his upbringing, and feel angry at his mom for dressing him in flowery shirts and telling the world about it. Then again, maybe he'll get over it.

We ask our kids to get over a lot these days. I'm still so blinded by stereotypes I wonder why there can't be a law against parents who aren't.

One of Sasha's human progenitors has a blog. It's accompanied by a profile picture. It looks like a woman to me, but what do I know?


Bernadette Luse said...

I read this article on yahoo a couple weeks ago. I think this kid should be taken away from his parents - your kids are not your own personal little social experiments. Since when is it a bad thing to make girl feel like a girl and enjoy being a girl and a boy feel like a boy? I'm fairly certain that if I walked into my office tomorrow dressed like a man because I didn't want to be "slotted into a box" I'd be fired. This poor kid is going to be so confused, teased and probably depressed growing up

William Luse said...

"your kids are not your own personal little social experiments."

There you go, kid.