How do you stop people treating your child in a gender-related way? Easy - you refuse to tell them whether the child is a boy or a girl.
This is what a Swedish couple have been doing for two years. Their offspring, referred to only as Pop, sometimes wears trousers and sometimes dresses, and his/her hairstyle is regularly changed to avoid gender assumptions.
They deflect all inquiries about gender and studiously present him/her in a neutral, category-free manner. Pink may not mean what you think, ditto blue. All conclusions are pure guesswork.
"We want Pop to grow up freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset" says Pop's mother. "It's cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead."
It's a fascinating experiment, trying to subvert the well-established tendency for children to be genderised, and to absorb the expected gender role, from the moment they're born.
But there are so many questions begging to be asked:
1) How do the parents avoid using a gender?
2) How do they avoid accidental giveaway remarks?
3) When will they reveal Pop's gender?
4) Is Pop happy about keeping his/her gender secret?
5) How do the parents stop him/her blurting it out?
6) Will Pop become gendered as soon as it's revealed?
Needless to say, some people have already accused the couple of child abuse for suppressing Pop's identity. But isn't it also a form of child abuse to force a child into a gender role they might not be comfortable with?
So? Nasty little boy or sweet little girl? Watch this space.