Mother of 'Genderless' Baby Storm Speaks Out

Filed under: In The News

Following a flurry of criticism stemming from the announcement she and her family would raise their child as gender-neutral, the mother of Storm Stocker is speaking out.

Kathy Witterick, the Canadian mother of the 4-month-old baby, and her husband, David Stocker, 39, sent an email to friends and family following Storm's New Year's Day birth, letting it be known just a select few -- including the parents, midwives, a close friend and the couple's two sons, Kio, 2, and Jazz, 5, would know Storm's sex.

"We decided not to share Storm's sex for now -- a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a standup to what the world could become in Storm's lifetime," they wrote.

The family has declined any interviews since the story grabbed headlines following a report in the Toronto Star May 21, but Witterick defends the decision in a letter to the Edmonton Journal, published May 30.

"I'm shy and idealistic, and all my life I've worked in the field of abuse and violence prevention," Witterick writes. "... Jazz is 5 years old. Since he was a young baby, he's enjoyed color, texture and vibrancy. ... As Jazz grew, his love of bright colors (especially pink) and lots of fabric (especially dresses) continued, and he wanted to grow his hair. The older he became, the more he met with pressure from peers and adults to adjust his image and 'act more like a boy.' Jazz remained committed to his own style."

Witterick writes that Jazz, while listening to "Free to be You and Me" soon before Storm's birth, began asking questions about how people would treat Storm should he, too, like to wear pink one day.

"There are these moments as a parent when you wish your child could bring a different issue to the table -- but there it is, plop! And if you really mean what you say about being kind, honoring difference, having an open mind and placing limits thoughtfully where they help children develop competencies and be safe, then you better walk the talk," she writes.

"We agreed to keep the sex of our new baby private."

Witterick writes that the family believed people would understand their decision, and that the global frenzy that instead ensued was a big surprise.

"The strong, lighting-fast, vitriolic response was a shock," she writes. "These voices demonstrate how much parents are in the world's critical eye -- in particular mothers, who are judged based on little (mis)information and not offered opportunities to share, grow, learn and be supported and celebrated by the community to raise children."

Witterick writes that the family has declined all interviews, but they want the world to know they did not ask their children to keep Storm's sex a secret.

"Secrets are not safe and healthy," she writes. "... If I had to convince my children not to share Storm's sex (which I don't because my children simply are not interested at this point) -- I would teach them that someone else's genitals and sense of how they relate to their gender is their private business, to be shared by them or in a context where safety, acceptance and sensitivity are paramount."

For now, Witterick writes, the decision of gender will be up to Storm.

"Storm is my third child and this is what I know -- some day soon, Storm will have something to say about it, so in the meantime, I'm just listening carefully."

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.