Storm: the "genderless baby" from Toronto (SWPL direct action)

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Niccolo and Donkey
The ‘genderless baby’ who caused a Storm of controversy in 2011

Toronto Star

Jayme Poisson

December 26, 2011


We would be remiss not to check in with Toronto’s most memorable infant of 2011, the baby aptly named Storm.

This May, a Star story about Kathy Witterick and David Stocker’s decision to keep the sex of their baby under wraps went viral.

Within days, Storm’s image — cherubic cheeks and wispy blond hair — appeared online, on televisions and in newspapers around the world.

Nearly seven months have passed. Storm turns 1 on New Year’s Day and is already standing up and nearly walking. A few teeth have popped through his/her gums, which came in handy on Halloween for a jack-o’-lantern imitation.

For the family — which also includes Kio, 3, and Jazz, who turns 6 on Tuesday — life has been joyful and busy. Day to day, little has changed. But they have new friends now, and have found support, even from surprising places.

This spring, only seven people knew whether Storm was a girl or a boy. That hasn’t changed.
“Mostly because it just doesn’t occur to us to talk about it,” says Witterick, who feels more confident than ever in the decision.

Yes, there was outcry over the couple’s choice and challenging moments for the pair. Angry letters were delivered to their door. Cars slowed down so people could shout “Boy!” at Storm while the family was en route to the pool or library.

If you haven’t heard about Storm, here’s the Coles Notes. After Storm’s birth, Witterick and Stocker sent an email to friends and family, telling them they wouldn’t be announcing Storm’s sex just yet: “A tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s lifetime (a more progressive place? ...),” it read.


The decision, the couple has often said, wasn’t impulsive. It was inspired by research — for example, Cordelia Fine’s book Delusions of Gender — on the costs of forcing people to conform to gender stereotypes .

Their choice was also informed by the experience of Kio and Jazz.

Witterick and Stocker believe children can make meaningful decisions for themselves. They want to give their three the freedom to choose who they would like to be, unconstrained by what’s expected of males and females.

Jazz, in particular, has been teased for making choices that are unconventional for his gender: Pink is his favourite colour and he loves to wear dresses.

Which is how Storm arrived in a family who chose to challenge gender norms they feel society imposes.

The media frenzy that followed the Star story was overwhelming.

Witterick said she and the kids had to hopscotch over an NBC executive camped on their front porch. Their voicemail was filled with interview requests from National Geographic , 60 Minutes Australia , Anderson Cooper, Dr. Phil and the Oprah Winfrey Network.

More bizarrely, a collector from Peoria, Ill., wrote asking to buy signed copies of a family picture.

They opted instead to visit the Grove Community School in Toronto’s west end in June. The kindergarten to Grade 4 classes had just finished learning about sex and gender and while the students didn’t all agree with the family’s choices, “They had smart questions,” Witterick told the Star .

“I was hopeful that the next generation is thinking carefully about what kind of communities they would like to raise their children in.”

The couple also spoke this fall on a panel at a feminist conference on motherhood in Toronto. Their talk was titled It’s a boy! It’s a girl! It’s a travesty! Questioning Sex Disclosure and Gender Assignment.

They are also working on a book about parenting — but don’t expect to read it anytime soon. Witterick said she’s too busy being a mom right now and wants to enjoy these early years with her children.

For Jazz’s part, he’s met lots of new friends. Some attended his fairy-themed birthday party earlier this month. Strung up along the family’s living room wall are handmade cards filled with birthday wishes.

When the family’s story made headlines, Witterick got a call from Barbara Coloroso, author of Kids Are Worth It , a go-to expert the couple had mentioned in interviews.

“When I called her back, We talked for nearly an hour, and I recall most vividly that she said, ‘The hidden blessing, my friend, is that you’ll find your place in a like-minded community this way,’ ” says Witterick.

The family has received dozens of messages from people who live outside conventional gender roles and are thriving, despite challenges. And they’ve been approached by supportive researchers, authors and activists.

Jazz has been attending the Toronto District School Board’splaygroup for gender independent children, and the family walked with the board’s contingent in the city’s annual pride parade.

Jazz and Kio recently wrote a miniature book about anger, which raised money for the Woodgreen Red Door Shelter in Toronto.

“Together, we’re working for greater diversity and freedom of expression, even for — especially for — children,” says Witterick.

There’s a lot of room for fun. The family went camping during the summer and took a trip to Montreal to learn a little French and First Nations history.

The couple hopes the discussion about their choices will lead to conversations on broader issues, such as how strict gender expectations result in gender-based bullying.

And perhaps that’s why the family — who turned down dozens of requests from media this year — agreed to this year-end story.

It feels especially important right now, with heightened awareness about bullying and its affects on children.

One doesn’t have to look much further than the story of Ottawa’s Jamie Hubley, the openly gay 15-year-old who loved Lady Gaga and was once a figure skater — and was bullied at school. He took his own life in October.

As for Storm, Witterick said the baby has learned to dance before walking. Every morning all three children jam to music.

Jazz has told his mother he thinks Storm will be a rock star.
Niccolo and Donkey
Niccolo and Donkey

More than anything I'm deeply suspicious of people who allow their children to be constantly photographed by the media.

Team Zissou

This is another example of elites espousing experimentation that is Not A Very Good Idea At All for people without the luxury of having a high-income breadwinner/husband so the mother can stay at home and plan fairy parties for her three children. Rather traditional, really.

Also, Storm's gender is not a 'secret,' not even to him. Mom and dad will have that certitude in shreds by the time he gets out of adolescence.


It looks like a boy to me. Aside from the fact that the parents should be investigated for child abuse, I'd like to know how they manage to speak about their child in English without resorting to the normal third person pronouns "he" or "she", etc. Gender-neutral English is as tedious as it is annoying.

nuclear launch detected

The father is a obvious faggot who trolls the m4m section of toronto craiglist looking for power bottom twinks like bronze age pervert


What would be the actual purpose of denying a child an assigned "gender identity", i.e. regarding the child as either a boy or a girl? People sometimes claim that social conservatives are alarmists over homosexual lobbying, but what is the aim of deconstructing gender identity if not to spread faggotry into the general population?

On this I entirely agree. It is effectively the 21stC version of wealthy left wing Fabians siting in their salons in 1920s England talking how sterilising the poor is the best thing for them.
Beefy Rep
The urban elite has never espoused an ideal of masculinity that has any resemblance to a Paul Bunyan "manly man," and, generally, the elite male has always been an experiment in effeminacy. To have other work for one's own sustenance and to live in a world of subtle cues and marks of status requires a male that is not at all vigorous.

I've often found it curious that the left today is forced into using the bare fact of disparities in income or general outcome in life as evidence of discrimination (such as blacks must be discriminated against because they have less income, power & etc.) And yet, one certainly couldn't apply that to homosexuals, who as a group are largely members of the urban elite and make more money and have more education than straights.