Yesterday I read this article – Couple Finally Reveals Child’s Gender – which talks about a couple who raised their child without telling anybody else what the true sex of their child was. They raised their child in a neutral way with clothing and toys and everything else. Now they are finally letting the world know that their child is really a boy. They did all this to avoid forcing their child into gender stereotypes which they think are unhelpful. They want their child to be who he is, whatever that means he or she ends up being.
I’ve talked a lot in my posts about how I also think that many of our gender stereotypes are very harmful. In fact, I think much of the reason we have so many crossdressers and transgendered people is because of unhelpful gender stereotypes that made us question who we were, or made us attracted to losing ourselves temporarily in the other sex. So I have and will continue to rail against problematic gender stereotypes.
However, I think that what these parents did is unconscionable. It shows how warped our culture has become. While I don’t like certain untrue gender stereotypes, I still very much think people are born as boys or girls, males or females. Besides the occasional hermaphrodite or inter-sexed person, we are born clearly as 1 sex. It is a true part of our identity that God intended. It’s not a free for all to just let your child develop and see what happens. What these parents did is nothing short of withholding vital important truth from their child.
Being born as a male or female is a fact of life. The gender stereotypes are the things that can be changed. Why couldn’t they have just told him it’s okay if he wants to be artistic or sensitive or gentle? I’d even be okay with them letting him play with dolls or with trucks both.
I guess the reason I’m writing about this is just to clear up what I mean by unhelpful gender stereotypes. I do think people are men or women and have general differences because of their sex. That’s a true biological fact. For example, men tend to be stronger than women, tend to be taller than women, and so on. But there are other things that our culture has perceived as true differences between the sexes that I would not agree with. For example, the notion that women are more emotional than men, or that women are more gentle then men, or that they are better cooks or house-cleaners, or child-rearers. Or that men care about relationships less or that men are more athletic.
So against some of our culture, particularly conservative Christian culture, I will fight to emphasize our common humanity as men and women, and focus on how we are alike. And I will attack harmful gender stereotypes that are not fair or just not true. But against other parts of our culture, like these parents in the article, I will stress that males and females are truly different, and it’s not just a become whatever you want to be type of life. To them, I would stress that being a male or female is a good part of our identity that we are supposed to have, even if the differences between men and women are largely just the physical differences between our bodies.