EXTINCTION REBELLION members Jake England-Johns and Hobbit Humphrey have hit the headlines for altogether different reasons after revealing they have decided not to disclose the gender of their baby.
The pair from Bath in Somerset, who juggle the demands of parenthood with their jobs as circus performers, use the gender-neutral pronouns “they” and “them” when referring to their 17-month-old child Anoush.
The child is dressed in both boy’s and girl’s clothes and will be given the chance to choose their own gender and pronouns when they are older.
The couple are so protective of Anoush’s gender, in fact, that it’s grandparents only found out the gender after changing the baby’s nappy.
Speaking on BBC One’s Inside Out, Hobbit explained the rationale behind the decision.
“So much of gender bias is unconscious,” she explained.
“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.”
Jake added: “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.”
The couple have come up against some resistance in everyday society but remain steadfast in their approach.
Jake said “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.”
“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,” Hobbit said.
“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.”