Swedish Couple Refuse to Mark ‘M’ or ‘F’ Box For Gender-Less Offspring

A Swedish couple is refusing to identity the gender of their now-2-year-old child, because they see gender as a “social construct.” Which, well, it is. As the child ages, however, more troubling than not having a declared male or female status will be going through life with the name “Pop.”

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  • Cam

    Biological differences are not a societal construct. If they were then prove it, have a woman impregnate somebody or have a man without medical help get pregnant and carry a baby. Sheesh, these people need to stop ruining their kids life and find something else to do with their time.

  • Chris

    No, as a matter of fact, gender is not strictly a “social construct.” Partly, sure, but not strictly. There are hormonal differences between men and women that can and do cause behavioral differences.

    But even if it were purely social, making your child an unwitting/unwilling part of what basically amounts to a social experiment, is pretty messed up. Don’t use a baby to prove a point.

  • tavdy79

    Biological sex and social gender aren’t the same thing.

    For starters, not everyone is born biologically male or female – there are thousands born intersex (where the genitals are neither fully male nor fully female). In most cases intersex children are assigned a gender at birth arbitrarily then put on powerful hormones during childhood to turn them male or female; Very often they’re sent the wrong way and (if they’re lucky) go through expensive and painful surgery and hormone therapy to correct the doctors’ mistake. Since legal gender is assigned at birth, this then gives them all the same problems faced by other trans people, especially if they were born in a country or state that does not allow changes to legal gender.

    Also, not all trans people are transmen or transwomen. Genderqueers have an altogether separate gender identity, and actually have a much longer cultural history than the rest of the LGBT community if you include Two Spirits, Hijras and other third-gender groups. So again, the person’s social gender is distinct from their physiological gender.

    Plus there are the hundreds of thousands of transmen and transwomen who cannot afford sex reassignment or live in countries where it isn’t possible to have it, so their biological gender and social gender are completely different.

  • Hexx

    @tavdy79: You took the words out of my mouth. Every single one of them.

    Remember, people. Sex and gender are not the same thing.

  • Stef

    What exactly are they refusing to acknowledge the gender on? A form? A medical form? A school form? What?

    In this case, I do feel sex/gender are the same word. I doubt whomever is asking this random Swedish couple what “gender” their kid is, is looking to do so in order to put social constraints on the kid. IT’S TWO! And since when has Sweden been so conservative when ti comes to labeling kids? Last I checked, there were no blonde haired blue eyed cops running around Sweden with a stamp looking to mark babies male or female in terms of gender identity. So no, I don’t think this has to do with “social constraints”. I would wager it probably has to do with a medical form, school form, etc that is asking the kid’s sex.

    Often times, certain forms refer to “sex” as “gender” to tame the word down a bit. Embarrassing, but true. So in this case, if the child has a biological sex – which I’m assuming it does, otherwise I think that’d be a big part of the story, non? – then I think it’s detrimental to the kid to refuse to identify the sex of the child on such forms.

    I feel for those with gender situations, and yes, I absolutely believe 100 percent females can be born in male bodies and vice versa…but at the heart of a lot of issues is, biologically, are you male or female, especially at this young age.

    You’re not going to go to a gynocologyst if you’re biologically a male, penis and all, regardless of whether you identify as a female in terms of gender and thoughts. You’re not going to go to a doctor regarding your prostate if you’re biologically a female, regardless of whether you are a man on the inside. And I would hope, regardless of whether a two year old identifies “typically” of their sex in terms of gender norms, the parents won’t ignore the fact that their kid is, at the moment, biologically a boy or a girl. Unhealthy to say the least. Your child has a yeast infection in her vagina – you going to NOT acknowledge she has a vagina because she MIGHT at some point identify as a boy in terms of gender? C’mon!

    This kid needs to just be whoever it is and biologically be defined for the moment, until it’s old enough to ever decide if and when it feels like going through a sex change. End of story.

  • galefan2004

    Male and Female is NOT gender. It is sex. They are two completely different things. Unless this child is intersexual then I don’t see the issue here. Gender is about identity. Sex is about organs. The form is asking what the organs are not what the identity is.

  • pinny

    i think what the parents are getting at has more to do with how male and female children are treated differently before the onset of puberty. that part has to do with social constructs. i don’t think it’s smart for parents or teachers to impose ideas on young people before they decide what they want for themselves (eg marriage, domesticity, power tools, etc). although not revealing the sex of a child doesn’t seem the only way around that.

  • MistressTalia

    You guys being all gungho about biology are missing the fact that this child’s biological sex is ambiguous. Everyone isn’t born a cleancut XX or XY with the appropriate genitalia to match. There’s a lot of places where it isn’t clear, ya know.

    My sister was born with no vagina, a halfway dick, and no urethral opening. Basically, she was an XX female exposed to high levels of prenatal testosterone, who partially developed towards male, but not entirely.

    Regardless of which gender was chosen for her, constructive surgery was going to have to be done, because she was neither a boy nor girl at birth, but they had to do SOMETHING cause she needed a urethra. In her case, they did chromosomal testing and determined she was XX and did the surgery in that direction.

    But all kids don’t have clearcut gender even with chromosomal testing. There are people who are XXY, for example. Lots of other possibilities as well.

    Nature isn’t as binary as we think. Sometimes, a baby is born, and it’s not clear if it’s a boy or a girl. In some of these ambiguous cases, some parents choose their child’s gender. And sometimes they choose wrong, having chosen to raise a child in one gender, the child later decides they were wrong. In short, the parents, in choosing prematurely, have created a trans person with the wrong genitalia.

    IMO, this makes it somewhat clear that gender ISN’T just a societal construct, cause you can raise a kid as one gender and the kid still winds up the other.

    Some parents are now raising these children without assigning gender, rather waiting for the child to choose. The basic idea being there’s no big hurry to do the corrective surgery, let’s figure out what the kid thinks before doing it.

    But in the meantime, yeah, the kid isn’t M or F. Not because the parents are being flakey, but because the kid WASN’T born clearly one way or the other and rather than jumping the gun to make a decision, the parents have decided to wait for the kid to decide before imposing the surgery.

    A lot of parents of intersex kids are now waiting for their children to hit puberty before deciding… if hormonal treatment is going to be needed, then that’s a deadline. This allows the kid to have some input in such a drastic life-changing surgery.

    Personally, having the sister I do, I’ve never had any problem understanding trans people. Once you “get” that nature doesn’t make everyone clearly male or female, it’s a lot easier to “get” that the genitals and brain might not match up. Or that some people might genuinely be in-between, rather than one or the other.

    Another personal experience, my daughter went to school with an intersex child. The parents chose to raise her as a boy, but shortly before puberty, when hormonal treatment decisions had to be made to grow her into the appropriate gender, the child decided she was a girl.

    Because we live in a rather conservative area, the parents moved to a new school district so the kid could start school with kids who only knew her from her current gender as she began on female hormones.

    This chick felt dating either males or females was weird, and only dated other intersex kids. She didn’t care what gender they were, just that they were like her. This disappointed my daughter, who had a huge crush on the girl.

    I related to her as a parent, so didn’t know her well, except she seemed like a nice kid. She stayed up all night reading from my collection of sex manuals whenever she stayed the night.

    If you think growing up gay or bi is confusing, imagine if it’s not just your feelings that are non-mainstream, but your very body as well. Unfortunately, she committed suicide just before she turned 18.

    There really needs to be room in the world for people who aren’t M or F.

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