Why couple banned doctor from announcing baby’s gender in delivery room

Why couple banned doctor from announcing baby’s gender in delivery room

Posted For: Willie Wonka

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A woman has revealed how she and her non-binary partner didn’t want doctors to announce the gender of their child in an attempt to raise them without gender norms.

Sommer Barros-Portway — who appeared on last night’s episode of SBS’s Insight to discuss the matter — came out as non-binary two years ago, meaning Sommer uses they/them pronouns.

Sommer, who is in their late 30s, met their wife Stephanie six years ago and the pair went through IVF to welcome baby Juno into the world.

The pair have said they want their child to be able to choose their own path in life without being confined to gender stereotypes.

Stephanie told the Insight audience that during her pregnancy she didn’t want doctors to tell the couple their child’s gender, including announcing it in the birth room.

“In the birth room we asked no one to announce (the sex) because I didn’t know and I didn’t want to find out when I was pregnant because I didn’t want to start imposing societal ideals on my baby,” Stephanie said during the program.

Sommer and Stephanie.

In an earlier interview with news.com.au, Sommer revealed the couple considered every possible detail before going through with the IVF procedure.

“When we decided to have a kid a few years ago, we spent two years doing parenting classes and doing parenting counseling together to make sure that our relationship was strong enough and that we had the same values to have a kid,” Sommer said.

“And when we did, we wanted to make sure that Juno has all the opportunities in the world that she wants without having to have expectations put on her.”

Sommer said initially they were going to use they/them pronouns for Juno so that society wouldn’t put pressures of gender norms on the child but they realized it wasn’t possible, as many were offended when they wouldn’t reveal the gender of their child.

So, they decided to use they or she when referring to the baby, who was assigned female at birth, and use the term Mom for Stephanie and PomPom for Sommer.

Sommer Barros-Portway.

“She can grow up and decide who she wants to be, what she wants to wear, what she wants to do, and be happy,” Sommer said.

“We’re not going to pressure Juno to do anything that they don’t want to do. We just want them to be a healthy, happy human being.”

Not everyone has agreed with the couple’s choice to allow their baby to pick their own path in life without being restricted by what society expects when you look a certain way.

“Bringing it back to tradies [manual laborers]. Why do you think there’s a high suicide rate in men who are tradies? I think it’s because of the behaviors and gender expectations that are put on them,” Sommer said.

“It’s a bit sad that, you know, people aren’t looking more into it and thinking about it instead of just being mad. They all think we’re all bunch of freaks but I know, I’m doing the right thing.”

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But, at the end of the day, the way the couple is raising their child is about giving choices, and wanting to feel accepted in any place they are in.

It has been a long road for Sommer, a manual laborer from Melbourne, Australia to feel comfortable in their own skin, with the discomfort beginning in puberty.

“I started getting depressed and sad that my body was changing from this very much gender-neutral body and everything got a bit harder for me,” Sommer told news.com.au.

“I probably realized until I was in my late teens that I was uncomfortable, and the reason was,

“I had, you know, big boobs that I hated.”

For a good while, Sommer used the word androgynous to describe themselves before learning the term non-binary.

Sommer and Stephanie.

Following that, it was a long road before Sommer felt comfortable using that term to describe themselves.

It was meeting their now-wife, Stephanie, through a friend six years ago, that truly helped Sommer on their journey of acceptance, combined with mental health support.

But, in the meantime, Sommer was working in construction, where they have now been in the workforce for 13 years.

“If you’re a tradie, if you’re not a man, as a female on site it is horrendous with sexual harassment,” Sommer said.

“It’s like you’re back in the 1950s, it’s just blatant sexism.”

Sommer said it a hard environment and spent the first eight or nine years being called homophobic slurs behind their back, as they were still female presenting, based on their appearance.

The manual laborer, from Melbourne, said they began to come out in the last two years as non-binary but did their best to keep their gender identity under wraps at work.

However, in their current role on the service side at a new company, Sommer feels more at ease.

To feel more themselves, Sommer opted to get top surgery, which is a surgery many non binary people and transgender men get to reaffirm their gender identity.

“I’ve thought about it for the last 10 years. Obviously, it’s quite expensive, with my surgery costing $12,500 with private health insurance, and there’s not that many surgeons that do it,” Sommer said.

“People think it’s all very willy-nilly, and they say ‘you’re mutilating yourself’ like I’m physically performing the surgery myself, I don’t understand why.

“Because I’m not cutting off anyone else’s body parts. But apparently, it’s really shocking to them.”

Sommer said it isn’t an easy task, having to see a psychologist on a small list to even be considered to be able to have the procedure, adding as an adult no one should be questioning their choices or calling it mutilation.

Sommer said they were lucky that after eight months they could have and pay for the surgery, with many people waiting years to get scheduled and raise the funds.

Sommer said with so many political conversations focusing on gender identity around the world, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to live life true to yourself but they hope one person like them hears their story and feels understood.

 

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