The comedian, activist and one-time husband of Katy Perry, who’s expecting his first baby with girlfriend Laura Gallacher, told Jonathan Ross, “We don’t know the gender. I may not even ever impose a gender upon it — let the child grow up and be the whatever the hell it is; never tell it there is such a concept.”
Brand, who revealed his baby news on Instagram with a picture of him hiding behind a book titled The Expectant Dad’s Handbook, also told his talk show friend Ross that he had been busy preparing for the new arrival. “I’ve painted the room, I’ve done the things that you’re supposed to do, I’ve accepted the idea that that person will be more important to me,” he said. He even shared one of his name choices: Jesus Three. We’re not sure if he’s being serious or not.
Brand’s decision to raise his child gender neutral is one a small but growing number of parents are making to avoid their children being restricted by male or female labels.
Examples of gender-neutral parenting tend to make the news because in most parts of the world, it’s still a controversial choice. A Toronto couple, Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, still haven’t revealed the gender of their 5-year-old child, Storm Stocker Witterick. In a 2011 email to friends and family that led to enormous public outcry, the couple wrote of “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? …)” Storm now says her preferred pronoun is “she,” having been given a choice of gender identity like her older siblings Jazz, 10, and Kio, 7.
But there are less extreme forms of gender-neutral parenting. Some parents simply encourage their kids to play with both “boy” and “girl” toys, keep their clothes and room colors neutral, give them the freedom to pick out their own clothes without restrictions, avoid books that stereotype men and women and make sure they don’t display stereotypical behavior themselves, such as Mom doing the laundry and Dad mowing the lawn.
If Brand chooses not to impose a gender on his child, he’ll be the first celebrity parent to do so. But many famous moms and dads are choosing to incorporate gender neutrality in their parenting. Actress Majandra Delfino raises her kids with husband David Walton in a gender-neutral environment because she wants them to be well-rounded, and Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt revealed in 2014 that their child Shiloh had been exploring gender identity for years and had asked to be called John.
Whatever Brand decides (and presumably Gallacher will be on board), one thing is for sure — he’s not going to be a dad who’ll be bound by traditional parenting conventions.