A couple of new parents are facing backlash after deciding to not reveal their baby’s biological sex and raise their child gender neutral. Hobbit Humphrey and Jake England-Johns told The Daily Mail that they made the choice in the hopes that their child will not be treated with any gender bias.
The couple, who live in England and are both circus performers, recently appeared on BBC’s Inside Out, and shared that their child Anoush (who they call “Charlie” on the show because of privacy concerns) dresses in both boys and girls clothes and that they use both sex pronouns when referring to their child.
Grandmother Camille revealed that she didn’t even know the sex of the baby until she changed a diaper when the child was 11 months old.
“It was a struggle,” she told BBC. “But as with any learning, over time it became embedded and they became ‘they.’”
“‘Gender neutral’ refers to us trying to behave neutrally towards the child, rather than trying to make them neutral,” dad England-Johns explained. “We’re not trying to make them be anything. We just want them to be themselves.”
The couple shared that when the child is older they will get to decide their preferred gender.
“So much of gender bias is unconscious,” Humphrey said. “When I got pregnant we then were having a discussion about how we were going to mitigate the unconscious bias. And we figured that the only way we could do that was just not to tell people.”
The response to the couple’s choice has been mixed, with some feeling that it’s extreme. However, as time goes on, they shared that it’s becoming easier to manage.
“We are quite good now at holding space for people’s discomfort in us saying, ‘Actually, we don’t tell anyone, we’re not telling anyone for now,'” their dad told BBC. “We’re just letting Anoush be a baby.”
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.
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