Gender Bender

Toronto Baby has a Secret Gender

We know that Canadians are weird and all, but this one takes the cake.

Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, a Toronto couple, are keeping their new baby’s gender a secret. Not even Grammy knows if her new Grandbaby is a boy or a girl or intersex or gender queer or what else have you. Ms. Witterick says that the idea that “the whole world must know what is between the baby’s legs is unhealthy, unsafe, and voyeuristic.”

It’s not a bad point. And in a gender obsessed society, perhaps it’s even a noble cause.

But by splashing your genderless baby all over the news and making a martyr out of him… her… it… We can’t help but think that behavior  is unsafe, unhealthy, and voyeuristic. Before we wouldn’t have cared. Before we wouldn’t have known… Now we can’t stop thinking about your baby’s bits and pieces. And it’s making us feel dirty!

The Canadian couple has two other sons (biologically speaking), Jazz, 5, and Kio, 2, who are encouraged to challenge gender norms by wearing dresses and braids. They are generally thought to be girls, the parents told the Toronto Star.

Again, this sounds pretty cool. We at Queerty love when families or individuals challenge society – especially when it comes to gender roles and stereotypes. In fact, that’s why we run the fantastic Raising My Rainbow column. But why, dear God, why do you have to call up the press and talk to them about it? Who is it for, anyway? For your kids? Or for the world?

For the baby’s sake, we hope it works. We hope the baby will organically grow into its own gender identity. But you gotta wonder.

Photo credit: Associated Press

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  • Phil

    Out of the whole story the first thing that struck me is the comment that Canada are weird, We are a very liberal country and find it really odd to say the least that someone that is posting on an american based website would call a country where we are free to be who we want to be with out having to “fight” for our rights as people weird. At least we have a country where we do not get classed as second class citizens.

    From a proud Canadian

  • Sarah

    I found the tone of this article totally bizarre. (a) You’re about a week or two late to the news. (b) Flippantly being like “oh, WEIRD!” (even if you later say that you support it and its just the publicity that bothers you” seems really short sighted and irresponsible. Enough so that I thought, wait, what website am I looking at?

  • Shellie

    Agree with Sarah above! Starting the article by telling us that these people are inherently “weird” is insulting at best. We started a gender-neutral baby clothing line precisely for for the reason that infant gender plays such a big role in how they are regarded that it’s bound to also force them into pretty antiquated likes and dislikes. Our “it’s a…baby” onesie was designed with this social obsession in mind: . Also, Kathy Witterick wrote a pretty fantastic response to all the press they are receiving, along with a statement that they have rejected all TV appearance requests…sort of makes you doubt that they’re in it for the press…

  • tefinger

    @Phil: Hey all – It’s Tanner, the writer here – I was just being cheeky with the “Canadians are weird” bit. Sorry if I offended. In fact – I love Canada. I’ll be more sensitive in the future. I’m new to the site and am still trying to find a tone that works. Thanks for commenting, anyway. I appreciate the feedback.

  • cccole

    Calling a baby (or any person) an “it” is inappropriate. There are other pronouns besides he and she.

    Gender =/= sex.

  • Gigi Gee

    First off, “We know that Canadians are weird and all…” WTF? Who is this “we”? And how is it that we Canadians are supposed to be so weird. Let’s see. Gays allowed in the military: check. Legal since 1992. Gays allowed to marry other gays, called same-sex marriage I believe: check. Legal since 2005. Same-sex activity decriminalized throughout the country: check. Legal since 1969. The bill was introduced in our House of Commons by our (then) Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who is known for stating that “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” Law introduced which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation: mostly. Like my love life…it’s complicated, but we’re getting there. That being said, how is it that we’re supposed to be so weird? Please tell me us so we can change. (That’s sarcasm btw, just in case you’re not familiar with it.)

    Secondly, the parents of this child did not alert the newspapers as you allege. I’ve ready pretty much every article written about them, along with the hundreds of comments to the articles (many of which were quite vitriolic and unpleasant), and it is my understanding that they were approached by different media outlets and they were forthcoming with the details of their decision. If you’d done any research at all you’d know that their two boys are not “encouraged to challenge gender norms by wearing dresses and braids.” They allow the boys to dress and style their hair however they want. They don’t dissuade the boys from their choices due to societal expectations of gender appropriateness. You say that you “love when families or individuals challenge society – especially when it comes to gender roles and stereotypes.” If that’s true, why is this story something that one would expecte to find at a Fox News affiliate?

  • Gigi Gee

    @tefinger: Tanner, thanks for your message. Tone can be a difficult thing, especially when attempting to translate into a written medium. I appreciate the fact that you actually like Canadians – just knowing that will make me sleep much better tonight. However, that still doesn’t change the rest of your post. I stand by what I said above: you make the same sweeping generalizations and tell the same untruths that I’d expect to find at Pamela Grothaus’ blog. If you have the stomach for it, she can be found at: (I said Fox before but she seemed somehow more repugnant.)

  • TMikel

    Really, folks, Canadians are no weirder than Americans, AND, they are also North Americans, since they are part of our continent. I could list any number of practices in these United States that are quite bizarre, including the current raging battle in California over male circumcision [and before you all foam at the mouth and rail at me, I am against the practice, which like most baby boys in the ’50s was done to me]. I quite agree that the couple in question have the right to keep the gender of the baby private, and I also agree that making it an international topic of conversation is counter productive and likely to damage the little tyke’s psyche. I love Canada and the two best vacations I ever took were there = both in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, and a camping trip I took across western Canada. The people were friendly and obliging and far less peculiar than some I met in the Dakotas and Montana.

  • TommyOC

    Canadians are weird. The Canadians in this article are weird. The only ones taking exception to that fact are Canadians.

    What’s so wrong with being called weird, Canada? Honestly, is there anything *more* negative that can be said about you? You are the least offensive country on the planet – your only offense, in fact, is your lack of offensiveness. So if someone needs to take a humorous shot at your expense, and “weird” is the best thing a person can come up with to do so, don’t get your undies in a bunch. You really don’t want to pick up a new offensive characteristic – not having a sense of humor – do you?

    Tanner’s opening line was tongue-in-cheek. Message received, Tanner. I smirked at it. No need to apologize for “hurting” anyone. It’s not like you hurled invectives at the country or its citizens – unlike what I have personally witnessed Canadians do to me for the simple fact that I love my Stars and Stripes.

    Please don’t tell me your sense of humor and appreciation for self-deprecation died with John Candy.

    Canada, learn to roll when a playful jab is thrown your way. Your neighbors to the south can show you how. We’ve been dealing with much harder punches for a good while now.

  • jimby

    I too am upset about 2 things. First, the Canadian dig is unnecessry and 2) as an American living in Canada who knows this couple personally, the comment about “splashing” this information around. Not so much ignorant ass, one interview for a local paper. Of course, the rest is history. They are no more “splashing” that the raising rainbow.

    Damn Tanner, for one this is old news, for two, your judgmental harshness will win you no friends here.

  • Daniel S

    I have been reading Queerty for a couple of years now, and it has become my primary source for Queer news. I love being able to read about queer issues around the world and hear different takes on relevant events, but I have to say that I have a few problems with this article.

    Beginning it with a dig against Canada seems unnecessarily judgmental and mean. What this family is doing and where they reside seem completely unrelated to me. Beyond that, I think accusing the family of “splashing” this around the media is unjustified. One person interviewed them and it has clearly exploded into something beyond what they originally imagined. As an infant, I really don’t think Storm is going to be damaged by any attention thrust upon the family. The mother had a unique idea about letting her child grow into a gender role in their own time. It’s nearly impossible to do that in a society that forces gender roles and stereotypes onto our young from before the moment the child arrives. Baby showers are regularly pink or blue themed. Clothing is gendered. Toys are gendered. Without the knowledge of what bits hang between Storm’s legs, potential gift givers were forced to choose gender-neutral toys and attire. As Storm grows up, the type of socially acceptable play will be broadened to include both dolls and trucks without the judgment normally associated with going against the gender norms. Studies have even shown that the type of language we use with boys and girls differs leading to different educational strengths and weaknesses down the line.

    The actual gender of their child is no ones business but theirs. If people want to think about anything they should imagine the world of possibilities this could potentially open for Storm!

  • Hotone2me

    @Phil: @TommyOC: @TommyOC: @jimby:

    I will have to say that if Canada is weird.. count me in. As an honorary Canadian, and yes my friends it is so. I was dubbed honorary by my friends in Toronto during the US vs. Canada Olympic Hockey Tournament.( Canada Won). I was totally honored at this title for I have for I live in the States, but have spend several amounts of my time in Toronto. I will have to point out something very obvious about the point made in the blog and quite honestly a problem that the Old Queerty has and seems to be a continuous one, cheekiness does not equate to ignorance.

    For the record: I am moving to Toronto in about a year times. Now having said that, as a person of color born in reared in the United States, I have come to learn and understand that indivials ignorance does not account for the masses. (ex: George W. Bush and the rest of the world).

    So here is the challenge, because this has the possibility of internalizing the flawed perception in this blog, you can see this as one persons mistake, or you can assume… and incorrectly that this view is shared by many.

    I will say that the ladder would reinvent the same offence and would perpetuate Tanner Efinger ignorant attempt to be cheeky.

  • Kenny

    Make no mistake. This couple can get away with this decision because they present as a heterosexual couple. If two gay dads made the same decision, they would receive little to no support and there would probably be an investigation by a child protective services type agency. Heterosexual parents are given far greater freedom to make out of the box parenting decisions.

  • Ferg

    Having never been to Canada but having formed a fairly positive opinion of it from the point of view of a UK citizen, I must admit I found the tone a bit off-putting, the Guardian managed to have far more balanced coverage two weeks ago.

  • Ferg

    To those who might not know they are the most left leaning of the major UK newspapers

  • Kieran

    Never mind the baby, is that the mother or father holding him/her?

  • SuperCat

    Kids end up with a gender identity no matter how you raise them. Plenty of transgendered people were raised in strict households that forced them to conform to their biological sex’s societal gender norms.

    They still ended up trans, and this kid will probably end up male, female, whatever, no matter how s/he is raised too. The thing is that no matter what the parents will love and accept him/her. And that’s a pretty lucky thing to have, even if they are weird and parade you to the media.

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