In Brief

Why British couple are hiding their baby’s gender

Friends and family asked to refer to 17-month-old as ‘they’

A British couple have gone public about their bid to raise their child gender-neutral by keeping its sex secret from even close family.

Hobbit Humphrey and Jake England-Johns dress 17-month-old Anoush in both boys’ and girls’ clothes and refer to the infant by the pronouns “they” and “them”, reports The Times.

“When I found out I was pregnant we spent those nine months discussing ways by which we could try and mitigate the gender bias that society places on children. Eventually, we decided that we wouldn’t tell people whether they were boy or girl,” says Humphrey.

The couple - who are both circus performers and live on a houseboat in Keynsham, Somerset - say they hope the decision will enable their child to “grow into their own person”.

Even the baby’s grandparents have not been told the biological gender, although Humphrey’s mother, Camille, discovered the sex after the couple asked her to change a nappy when the child was 11 months old.

“The response was pretty mixed when we first told our friends and family and most people didn’t get it, with some people wanting just to ignore it,” says Humphrey.

“I don’t think people really took us seriously initially. What you say you’re going to do when you’re pregnant can often be very different later when you are faced with bringing up a crying, screaming baby.

“But over a year in, it’s clear that we are serious and gradually people have got used to it. Although, that still doesn’t stop some pretty confused looks from old ladies in the park when they come up to us and ask if they’re a boy or a girl. It can take a bit of explaining.”

The couple say they plan to allow the child to choose their gender when they are 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,” Humphrey told the BBC’s Inside Out West during an interview on the programme on Monday.

The pair are by no means the first parents to refuse to define their child’s gender. British singer Paloma Faith and Hollywood actress Kate Hudson have both also said are raising their children gender neutral, the Daily Mail reports.

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