Barbara Kay, National Post · May 25, 2011 | Last Updated: May 25, 2011 3:18 AM ET
In 1978, a children's book was published called X: A Fabulous Child's Story, about a child with no gender. X liked both football and basketweaving, ignored schoolyard teasing and ended up as the happiest, most well-adjusted child ever examined by "an impartial team of experts."
What are the odds of two utopians, married to each other and both blinkered enough to find this unrealistic story so "compelling" they would use it as a template for raising their own child?
Meet one-in-a-trillion Toronto couple Kathy Witterick, 38, and David Stocker, 39, parents of Jazz, 5, and Kio, 2 -both acknowledged to be boys -and their four-month-old baby, Storm, knowledge of whose sex the parents are withholding because, after reading Lois Gould's story, "How could we not?"
Their birth announcement to family and friends explains: "We've 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 (a more progressive place?)." To their annoyance, they are spending a lot of time defending their decision.
Close observers reportedly are uncomfortable. They are especially troubled that Storm's two brothers have been co-opted into collusion with the scheme and, well-rehearsed, assiduously self-monitor their own discourse about "Z," the neutral replacement for "he" or "she."
Friends are right to feel troubled. The obvious message these children are tasked with transmitting is that it is shameful to identify, let alone take pride in, one's own sex.
Jazz and Kio will doubtless "out" their baby brother/sister by accident, but perhaps not too soon, because they live in something of a bubble. They are "unschooled," a variant of home schooling, but without the structured pedagogy. In unschooling, children learn on demand. Reading, math, baking cupcakes, jumping in mudpuddles in whatever time proportions the child decides: It's all good.
But what seems like complete freedom to express themselves is illusory. Deny it as they will, Witterick and Stocker are ideologically programming their children. It is no accident that Jazz and Kio are "almost exclusively assumed to be girls" by Witterick's own admission, or that Jazz (wearing hair braids and pink clothes) refuses to answer a reporter's question as to why the thought of attending school with other children upsets him (there have already been a few teasing incidents with peers), or happens to love a book called 10,000 Dresses, the story of a boy who enjoys dressing up in girls' clothes. (Has he even been exposed to Bob the Builder?)
Witterick and Stocker are what I call "Ouija board" parents. Ouija board users believe that the planchette is moving of its own accord under their fingers to "answer" their questions. Witterick and Stocker insist that their children's lives are unfolding spontaneously. But these animated planchettes are merely responding to parental guiding hands virtually pushing them into what some of us might recognize as heterophobia. This is a "progressive" ideology that would happily sacrifice a child's identity on the altar of bogus social engineering.
Once they emerge from their protected environment, these guinea pigs may end up as social martyrs. But Witterick rejects criticism: "Everyone keeps asking us, 'When will this end?' And we always turn the question back. Yeah, when will this end? When will we live in a world where people can make choices to be whoever they are?"
Free will has its limitations. One such limitation is human biology. The denial of biological reality by highly educated, but humanly naive "progressives" -and their choice to privilege the "world" over the needs and rights of their own children -speaks more to their narcissism than to their idealism.
The book about X, the child with no gender, is a product of second-wave feminism's fevered mania for erasing biological essentialism. Its author was apparently convinced that if you merely willed human nature's demise, a post-gender society was no dream. But to anyone with common sense, the story is a ludicrous fantasy, inspiration fit only for comic exploitation, like the Here's Pat series on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s.
Up to now, according to a media report, some of Witterick's and Stocker's friends and family have chosen to be supportive of the couple's experiment. They would do those children a greater service if they deferred to their judgmental gut instincts. This misguided couple needs intervention before their adult folie à deux becomes a children's tragedy à trois.