A couple are refusing to reveal the sex of their 17-month-old baby to their close family because they want to protect it from ‘unconscious gender bias’.
Hobbit Humphrey, 38, and Jake England-Johns, 35, who live on a houseboat in Keynsham, near Bath, said they are currently dressing 17-month-old Anoush in both boys and girls clothes.
The married couple, both members of the Extinction Rebellion climate action group, are also asking friends and family to address the toddler using the gender-neutral pronouns, ‘they’ and ‘them’.
One of the child’s grandparents said they only found out the baby’s gender after 11 months, when changing a nappy.
Ms Humphrey and Mr England-Johns appeared on BBC One’s Inside Out last night to explain their decision was the only way to stop people treating their child differently based on gender.
They said the baby, whose name was changed to Charlie in the programme, will be allowed to decide at a later age on its gender and preferred pronoun.
Mr England-Johns said: ‘Gender neutral refers to us trying to behave neutrally towards the child, rather than trying to make them neutral.
‘We’re not trying to make them be anything. We just want them to be themselves.’
Hobbit Humphrey added: ‘So much of gender bias is unconscious. When I got pregnant we then were having a discussion about how we were going to mitigate the unconscious bias.
‘And we figured that the only way we could do that was just not to tell people.
‘To use the they/them pronoun for as long as we can, and create this little bubble for our baby to be who they are.
‘Eventually they will get told by somebody that pink is only for girls and blue is only for boys, and you can’t play with that because you are a particular sex.
‘That’s still a thing that happens these days. We’re just trying to protect Anoush from that.’
The couple, who are both circus performers, said their decision to dress Anoush in boys’ and girls’ clothes has led to ‘some pretty confused looks from old ladies in the park’.
Hobbit Humphrey, 38, and Jake England-Johns, 35, say they will raise their baby as gender neutral
Anoush, 17 months old, is currently dressed in both boys and girls clothes by the couple
Grandmother Camille, 64, Ms Humphrey’s mother, didn’t discover the child’s gender for 11 months, when she changed a nappy.
She said: ‘It was a struggle… but as with any learning over time it became embedded and they became ‘they’.’
Mr England-Johns added: ‘We are quite good now at holding space for people’s discomfort in us saying, ”Actually, we don’t tell anyone, we’re not telling anyone for now”. We’re just letting Anoush be a baby.
‘Anoush is the most lovely little human. They’re into everything, they’re really active — just a delight.’
Ms Humphrey said: ‘It was tricky at first when not only were we new parents, but also new parents who had the problem of people getting upset about our baby being gender neutral.
The married couple, both members of the Extinction Rebellion climate action group, are also asking friends and family to address the toddler using the gender-neutral pronouns, ‘they’ and ‘them’
The parents said the baby will be allowed to decide at a later age on its gender and preferred pronoun
‘But in the end it has proven to be a really beautiful thing and we’ve had a lot of important conversations from it.
‘It has had the effect we wanted, of letting our baby develop its own interests regardless of gender. So, for example, while they love having a doll’s tea party every morning, they also are really fascinated by motorbikes and machinery.
‘Eventually once our baby is old enough, they can obviously decide for themselves what gender they want to be, but for now we just want them to be able to grow up in their own little bubble.’
In 2018 Paloma Faith, the British singer, said she was raising her child gender neutral and Hollywood actress Kate Hudson has followed suit.
Russell Brand, the comedian turned political activist, has also previously said he would raise his two daughters gender neutral.