Life

Royal Baby to Be Denied Gender? Not Quite, Palace Says

Buckingham Palace has denied media reports that Prince Harry and Princess Meghan plan to raise a baby who’ll be denied gender.

It’s amazing to see how different sources of information scramble to gain attention. A perfect example is the story about Prince Harry and Princess Meghan’s royal baby and claims he or she will be denied gender.

Some stories reported that the royal couple decided they would not raise their baby with “gender stereotypes.” I saw one source claiming she wanted to take a “gender fluid” approach to raising her child. At least one source reported they intend to raise a “genderless kid.” I’m not sure how they’d go about doing that. 

Vanity Fair reported that Meghan recently told friends she doesn’t want to load Baby Sussex down (who is speculated to be a boy) with a lot of gender stereotypes:

The duchess is understood to have told at least one friend that they want to raise their baby without gender-stereotyping, which means the nursery might not be filled with toy trains and cars if it isa boy.

It’s worth noting, of course, that Buckingham Palace says the magazine reports about raising the child “gender neutral” are false.

The idea is still intersting, however.

But some boys actually do like toy trains and toy cars. At the age of infancy, I suspect most babies won’t care one way or another about what kind of toys adorn their nurseries. If they do, as infants, they won’t yet be able to have that conversation, anyway.

Even the traditional colors or blue or pink (depending on whether the baby is a boy or girl) are apparently off the table. Instead, the couple has decorated the nursery, VF reports, in white and shades of grays.

That sounds a bit depressing to me. Are colors like yellow or green or purple gender-specific? When my folks brought me home, the color of the walls in my nursery were beige. That’s also a neutral color but not nearly as drab as gray.

I don’t mean to sound facetious.

I know a lot of people struggle with gender issues, and the primary reason for their struggle is less about what’s happening in their own psyche and more about preconceived notions society is always trying to impose upon them. Somehow, you’re not a man unless you like big trucks and shotguns. You’re not a woman unless you like playing dress-up and having tea parties.

I don’t care for big trucks or shotguns, but I don’t feel the need to prove to anyone whether I’m a man. It’s easy for me to say that I don’t care what others think about my gender because I was fortunate enough to be born into the gender into which I feel I belong.

That’s a different kind of privilege that we’re learning a growing number of people have never experienced.

At the same time, I have to wonder whether the whole “gender fluid” or “genderless” approach isn’t a bit too reactionary.

When I was a baby, my mother cooked while holding me on her hip so that she could keep an eye on me. I became fascinated with cooking since I saw it happening right before my eyes. But as Mom saw my fascination with what she was doing, she became concerned that I might sneak into the kitchen, turn on the stove and end up getting burned.

Since I was so fascinated by the stove and cooking, she bought me a metal toy stove that came with toy pots and pans. I played with that toy stove for a long while.

But of course, a toy stove is considered more of a girl’s toy. And a woman at our church found out somehow that she’d made the purchase for me and was quite upset. This woman, who I’ll call “Mrs. Busybody,” made the mistake of voicing her displeasure of my mother’s actions to my father.

He was only too happy to lecture her about some of the world renowned chefs around the world who just so happened to be men.

That shut Mrs. Busybody’s mouth. But there are a lot of people like her in the world…and I’m afraid all of us have elements of her mentality floating around in the backs of our heads from time to time.

In any case, my gender identity was in no way fouled up by having a stove to play with. At that time, I was too little to have any real notion of what gender was, much less the concept of gender identity.

I was born a male. I consider myself a male. And while no one will ever call me a chef, I can certainly cook myself a tasty dinner.

Isn’t it enough to let the child decide what he or she feels comfortable with as he or she ages? Is painting a boy’s room blue or a girl’s room pink really the same thing as imposing strict gender stereotypes? It’s just color, even if it’s traditionally associated with one or the other. No matter what color you decide to paint the nursery, a baby has no idea what blue or pink means.

It just seems to me that what would accomplish much more for the mental health of the children would be parents who are supportive whenever expressions of gender identity are communicated.

We can’t pretend that gender stereotypes don’t exist because they do. And since, at least as far as we know, a huge majority of people identify on some level within those stereotypes, they’re not going away any time soon.

Maybe things like that could lead to actual conversations.

1 Comment

  1. There are some people who identify as agender, but they certainly didn’t come out of the womb with that knowledge, any more than any baby could possibly be aware of their gender upon their birth.

    Gender stereotypes are not wrong, but the expectation of parents that their child conform to them can be. Gender identity does not develop through external stimuli, whether they be colors, toys, parental influence, or society. It is, rather, totally determined by the individual. The only person, then, who could defy gender is the individual him/her/them-self.

    What would be the correct protocol for referring to a gender-less royal baby, anyway? It couldn’t be Prince or Princess; not even Trans-Prince or Trans-Princess, really. (or Duke/Duchess, etc.)

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.