Ever looked at a baby and wondered if it was a boy or a girl? I’ve been there. It’s a dicey situation because most parents take offence if you blurt out the wrong gender. Beck Laxton and Keiran Cooper are exceptions, though. They raised their kid for five years without revealing the gender to anyone, until recently. Only when things were getting difficult at school did they tell the world that their baby is actually a boy.
This might sound real crazy to a lot of people out there, and Laxton is quite aware of that too. The 46-year-old mom does admit that several people had branded the couple as “loony” and they had to suffer some amount of ostracisation due to their choices. “I discovered that I’d been described as ‘that loony woman who doesn’t know whether her baby is a boy or a girl’. And I could never persuade anyone in the group to come around for coffee. They just thought I was mental,” she says.
But this is far from worrying to Laxton and her 44-year-old husband. According to them, gender neutral was the way to go, if they wanted to allow their child’s true personality to emerge. Laxton is of the opinion that gender stereotyping is fundamentally stupid, and she wanted to avoid it all together. In fact she goes as far as to say that early gender stereotyping can be harmful. “Gender affects what children wear and what they can play with, and that shapes the kind of person they become,” she says.
Photo by Warren Gunn/SWNS
The unusual parents say that they haven’t had any trouble with ‘baby Sasha’ so far. “I don’t think I’d do it if I thought it was going to make him unhappy, but at the moment he’s not really bothered either way. We haven’t had any difficult scenarios yet,” says Laxton. So for now, the kid is free to wear both boy’s and girl’s clothing, and can play with whatever he likes. When he was born, he was just referred to as The Infant. His parents were so determined not to know the sex of the baby that they didn’t ask the midwives for over 30 minutes after the birth. For Mr. Cooper and Ms. Laxton, this was perfectly normal.
The psychological effects of raising a gender neutral child, however, are largely unknown. This is simply due to the fact that no one has ever done it before. Dr. Daragh McDermott, lecturer of psychology at Anglia Ruskin University, confirms, “It’s hard to say whether being raised gender-neutral will have any immediate or long-term psychological consequences for a child, purely because to date there is little empirical research examining this topic.”
I guess only time will tell if the couple were indeed right in what they did with baby Sasha.