Toronto parents of ‘genderless’ baby vow to avoid further media attention

Marc Weisblott
Daily Brew

A long-haired 5-year-old boy named Jazz, who prefers to wear pink, could have been the most popular interview subject in Canada right now.

But his parents, who revealed that they're raising his 4-month-old brother as 'genderless', ignored a deluge of media requests over the weekend in favour of taking him to the park.

The Toronto Star's feature story, about how Kathy Witterick and David Stocker decided not to reveal to most family and friends whether the baby is a boy or a girl gained attention for its statements about how children are influenced by the colours they wear.

The decision to keep newborn Storm's sex a secret, however, was just an extension of how the couple have raised the two older brothers to choose how they want to look.

Jazz's fondness for feminine clothing and accessories motivated the parents to keep him out of kindergarten, because he doesn't like being called a girl, even though he recently bought a new pink dress for himself.

Similar preferences have been expressed by 2-year-old Kio, who rides a pink and purple tricycle, and is also generally assumed to be female.

The family's refusal to talk to additional media outlets has stoked a global conversation about whether the genderless approach to parenting could somehow harm the infant.

"Are these the most politically correct parents in the world?" asked the U.K. Daily Mail in its headline, on a story that compared the scenario to Angelina Jolie's revelation that her 4-year-old daughter Shiloh wants to be a boy.

"While I love the concept," pondered Monica Bielanko of the U.S. parenting website Babble, "I don't think the benefit outweighs the negative repercussions, at this point and time in the world."

The deluge of negative reaction to the story seemed to catch the parents off-guard, even as the Toronto Star revelled in the viral readership and got them to email follow-up thoughts.

Otherwise, the parents have now vowed to keep the children out of the spotlight.

"We don't want them to feel like exotic bugs," Witterick remarked, "and when consulted, they said no thanks to more media attention."