The Independent recently published an article which argues for the alteration of the way we perceive gender and how we assign babies gender. The article makes a compelling case for why we, as a society, should no longer assign a new born baby a gender, instead, we should allow them to choose their own. To some, this sounds like a no-brainer; of course we should allow a child to choose their own gender rather than force one upon them, that’s their prerogative as a human.
However, this seems to ignore the enormous amount of pressure and responsibility this puts on children while they’re in their most volatile stages of life. Gender, as we currently see it as society, has many drawbacks, but one of the positives is that it clearly helps to build one’s identity. Along with race, ethnicity and social status, we are born with it and it shapes who we are. For most people, gender is a part of who they are and they’re proud of it. Various women activist groups valiantly fighting throughout history for the equality of women prove this. Moreover, the negative effects of a child choosing their gender is completely unknown at this point. The potential mental health issues a child or teenager could experience because of a lack of understanding or identity could be far reaching. People tend to desire a place in society where they feel as though they fit; denying a child a part of their identity has the potential to alienate them.
The idea that all children should choose their gender would accommodate a very small percentage of the population (those who experience gender dysphoria), and supporting these people’s rights is no doubt important, but it would also be forcing an ideology on a child and indoctrinating them into a particular school of thought before they even have a chance to think for themselves. Freedom of choice when it comes to gender has obviously nothing to do with anyone but the individual, but freedom of thought is being compromised. Children have not experienced enough of life, society or their role in the world to fully understand what gender truly is and how it affects them. Not only this, but I would argue that gender roles and stereotypes are reinforced by the notion; by telling a child that the way they feel is more akin to a girl if they are a boy, you are telling them that a boy acts a certain way and a girl acts another. Despite the potential good intentions of allowing a freedom of choice, the very boundaries which are set out to be destroyed are built further.
Not to mention that most people aren’t ready to see this change in the world. The way which these gender-neutral children are treated, depending on where they live, could be horrific. A child is not ready to have such a responsibility on their shoulders. As much as some people would like to say that gender doesn’t matter, many others care, and they care a lot. Such a radical idea, in the current state of politics, is divisive and incredibly badly timed. Let people choose their own gender, just make them wait until they understand what they’re doing at least a little bit more; otherwise, more harm than healing could be done.