Hobbit Humphrey and Jake England-Johns, a couple who live on a houseboat in Bath, England, have opted to keep their 17-month-old child's sex a secret to avoid gender biases. According to Inside Out — a program on BBC — Hobbit and Jake haven't even told their friends and family what their toddler's sex is and have asked their relatives to refer to the child as "they/them." The child's name was changed to Charlie for the show, and the parents explained that they dress Charlie in both girls and boys clothing.
"Gender neutral refers to us trying to behave neutrally toward the child, rather than trying to make them neutral. We're not trying to make them be anything," Jake told BBC. "We just want them to be themselves. 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 Charlie be a baby. Charlie is the most lovely little human. They're into everything, they're really active — just a delight."
Although one grandparent learned the child's gender while changing Charlie's diaper six months ago, Hobbit and Jake have held firm about keeping the info as under wraps as possible.
"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," explained Hobbit. "[We want] 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 Charlie from that."
Hobbit explained that at the end of the day, they just want their child to be who they truly are. "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," said Hobbit. "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."