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 60 Minutes Australia / YouTube

(LifeSiteNews) — Australia’s Sixty Minutes, the local version of the American television show, recently aired a program about raising genderless “they-bies,” a supposedly new parenting practice.

The program featured a number of self-proclaimed enlightened parents who are counteracting “gender bias” by keeping the sex of their young children hidden and letting the children decide for themselves, from as young as age four, what they are. 

It is far from clear why this should be a story of any interest, even compared with Sixty Minutes’ usual dreary fare. But it is worth looking at some of the assumptions to get a glimpse of the way sexual politics is affecting the raising of children. It is not a trivial matter because it feeds into the increasing medicalization of childhood sexuality.

According to Gender Clinic News, Victoria has Australia’s largest and most influential gender clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, where new patient referrals have multiplied a hundredfold over the decade since 2011. 

The principal claim is that female and male social roles have been artificially constructed over thousands of years, presumably by patriarchs. The assumption underpinning this is that nature and environment can be neatly separated.

The nature-nurture distinction, derived from Darwinism, has some utility in medical science, where it is possible to separate genetic disposition and environmental influences to a degree. But it is, to say the least, a heroic assumption to say that for thousands of years human societies behaved unnaturally when they reared female and male children differently. 

If anything, it is far more likely to have been the opposite: that older societies were subject to, and behaved in accordance with, nature. Far from being an artificial construct, gender roles probably reflected realities of the natural world. Before the advent of industrial machinery, for example, the importance of the male advantage in physical strength would have been of significance to survival. Parents attempting to manipulate gender roles is a consequence of living in a more artificial environment, not a return to something more natural. 

The parents of the “they-bies” – the label sounds like it was dreamed up by a marketing department – parade their children for the program, then complain about people wanting to invade the privacy of their children by asking to know their sex. This is not just ridiculous, it again exposes one of the most damaging aspects of the politicization of sex, especially childhood sexuality: the loss of private spaces. 

There was a time when sex and, for the most part, sexual appetites were considered private matters. The 1973 Supreme Court pro-abortion ruling Roe v Wade was based on the claim, since overturned, that the constitutional right to privacy includes a woman’s right to decide whether to have an abortion. It should have been obvious that claiming privacy should not be an excuse in matters of life and death, but the fact that it was used in this way is evidence of just how important privacy was once considered. 

That is no longer the case. Mainly because of social media and its politicization, privacy has been eroded. Not only have activists’ gender preferences and sexual choices become public fare, those pushing this political line have demanded compliance from everyone, insisting on specific uses of language, seeking to ban the use of certain words, including pronouns, and quickly resorting to abuse if they can detect any evidence of what they deem to be wrong thinking. In other words, they are trying to trespass on the privacy of the thoughts of those who might disagree with them. 

Two other absurdities were evident in the program. One is how meaningless the word “gender” has become. The parents grudgingly acknowledge that their children have physical reproductive characteristics and that gender is “built on top of biological sex.” But they argue that they were born with no gender. Then, suddenly, sometime around the age of four, they could have any one of a number of genders (some list 94 possibilities). 

One mother said: “We’re not trying to eliminate gender; we are trying to show how limitless gender can be.” The question might then be: “If you are not trying to eliminate gender, then why do you say your they-bies have none?” Another might be: “How can four-year-olds suddenly discover these limitless possibilities?” 

The parents are proud of their assumption that their children have, and should have, an ability to choose without being influenced. Leaving children under the age of four free to choose is not something parents often do for practical reasons, however. Small children have a problematic tendency to jump headfirst off sofas, or stick their fingers into electrical sockets, for instance. And in any case, actively concealing something about the children constitutes a type of interference. In parenting, interference is unavoidable. 

How parents bring up their children should be their own business. But one wonders why Sixty Minutest thought this was newsworthy. The disturbing answer is that it is another example of the media making childhood sexuality a public issue. That is one step away from child exploitation.