In a valiant effort to make sure Federal Way is not left out of the media blitz on the subject, I am chiming in with thoughts and questions about the elusive “Baby Storm.”
Baby Storm, by the way, lives in Toronto. Toronto, as a refresher, is in Canada. This is not a local story. It’s not even a national one. This baby resides in another country, on the other side of our continent, with parents who happen to be refusing to release information about what biological sex their baby is. To which, I ask with all due respect: Really? Who cares?
This is not an issue about the baby. It’s an issue about what adults think about the parents of the baby. The public’s fascination and strong opinions about this story remind me of nosy, overbearing relatives who want to choose outfits, nursery colors and extracurricular activities for someone else’s children. Because when you’re under six months old, what tragedy is going to become you if Federal Way residents don’t know which genitalia are between your legs?
Why is this being portrayed as some kind of catastrophe for the child because “friends and family knew not (whether) to send blue or pink balloons?” (www.parentdish.com).
Let’s talk about the difference between sex and gender. Biological sex refers to the chromosomes and genitalia with which one is born. Storm is either XX with female genitalia, or XY with male genitalia. There are exceptions, but according to media reports, there is no ambiguity of this baby’s genitals.
Storm’s parents have chosen to delay subjecting their child to the amazing barrage of cultural messages about how he or she should act because of those chromosomes and whether he has a penis or she has a vagina. If you think they are blowing this out of proportion, consider what happened when they randomly chose a sex for their child in order to take a vacation to Cuba recently. Upon deciding Storm would be a boy for that week with a coin toss, “the social response changed instantly, and people said, ‘What a big, strong boy,’” Storm’s mom wrote in an email to the Toronto Star.
Public reports are also quick to point out that the parents allow their other sons to explore their gender identity, and that one of Storm’s older brothers wears his hair in pigtails. I wonder if they would have been so quick to point it out if Storm had an older sister who wore overalls or played with trucks or had short hair. We are all too quick to criticize certain types of gender exploration, especially if biological males explore anything considered to be traditionally female.
How is gender different from sex? Gender is “a concept that encompasses the special psychosocial meanings added to biological maleness or femaleness” (Our Sexuality, Crooks and Baur, 2008). And indeed, people seem to be going “psycho” over the lack of “social” cues about how to treat this tiny person.
Here’s my final thought: let’s all treat Storm like … a baby.