Keeping Secrets and A Genderless Baby
Sending out Emails after your child's birth is not unusual – but announcing that you are keeping the child's gender a secret is not the norm. But two parents issued such a missive believing that it is a statement about choice and freedom for their newborn. It appears to be part of an experiment to bring up a child as free of social pressure as possible with regard to gender stereotype.
And it doesn't appear to have been a publicity stunt as most of us might first think, although a Swedish couple had already launched a similar child-rearing project. (Boy, Girl, or Neither? Raising A Child Without Gender.) When the Canadian parents found themselves on the cover of one of their country's biggest newspaper's, The Toronto Star, they were genuinely surprised said the story's author. She spent two days with the parents and seems convinced that they were launching an enlightened social experiment rather than a publicity stunt.
When Storm is able to speak, he or she might have a few questions about the whole gender identity thing; and certainly by the time Storm is a teenager, it would be unusual if there wasn't a whole lot said. But parents do a lot worse to their children in the name of science than try to create the opportunity to give them an androgynous baby/childhood. But I expect the cat to be out of the bag long before Storm utters too many words let alone forms a sentence or says what s/he really thinks.
Storm was born with the assistance of two mid-wives; he or she also has two brothers aged two and five and, of course, there are the two parents – that's six people who already know the secret. That is not an auspicious beginning for a secret; any secret that is known by six people is bound to be short lived. And that is probably a very good thing. However well intentioned the parents may be launching their social experiment, Robert Heinlein's observation that “Secrecy was the beginning of tyranny” seems to probably sum things up quite well from my perspective.
The stress and pressure on Storm's siblings must be enormous. Just being told that you are not to repeat something is hard to do as an adult, and surely doomed and possibly even cruel if it's a child or children who are meant to keep the secret. I can remember that it required a Herculean effort to keep the slightest confidence from the moment I was as told. As a child, walking around with a secret was much the same as carrying a sack of rocks on your back. And adults don't do too much better. The load's a lot lighter when you are free of rocks or secrets.
I hope the four adults involved are all teetotalers. The rest of us know that secrets and wine don't mix. In vino veritas is something that's been oft repeated over the centuries. There seems no better time to share a confidence with your good drinking buddies than after a few drinks or, in politer circles, there might be a pleasant dinner party accompanying the vintage wine. As secrets go, I think that the circle of six will quickly grow, and how many people have to know something before it is no longer a secret? And if the secret was about me, I wonder how I would feel when I discovered everyone was keeping a secret from me? It seems to me that Storm is being surrounded by some terrible role models if honesty is a value. Also I wonder at a world, myself included, that is caught up in so much triviality that masquerades as something serious when it should be either ignored or treated with the frivolity it deserves.