Swedes Raise a Gender-Free Child

What Women Really Think
June 29 2009 1:56 PM

Swedes Raise a Gender-Free Child

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Parents of children born with an ambiguous gender often beg doctors to let them choose one gender or another. Now, in Sweden, a couple has decided to raise their now 2-year-old with no gend er . Of course, the kid has one, but they won’t tell anyone what it is. They dress the kid in any old colors. When they change the diaper, they hide its parts. The kid’s name is Pop. "We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset," Pop’s mother told a Swedish newspaper. "It's cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead."

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I had a militant feminist mother friend like this once. She only let her daughter play with cars and trucks, and then one day came in the room to see her daughter swaddling Baby Tonka in a blanket and feeding her a bottle through the chassis. Experiment over. What the Swedish couple is doing is of course absurd on many levels. To raise a child gender-free requires a kind of vigilance that can only lead to obsession with gender. If they keep it up, in a few years they will have to redirect Pop’s every natural instinct, and then what to do about the hair?

What’s interesting to me is how gender neutrality has now become an ideal. Trying to raise a girl with boy interests has the benefit, at least, of building empathy for the other sex. But the idea of no gender at all is radical and dispiriting.

Photo by Getty Images.

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.

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