if someone has a kid, is it possible to raise them in a way that they decide their own gender and express it freely? like could you raise them without assigning them a gender? it seems impossible to me.

It would probably be impossible to completely control for things like media influence, peer pressure and the way that marketing addresses boys and girls, but some things I think might make a difference are:

  • Encouraging the belief that no toys are “off limits”, and that there are no “boy” or “girl” activities, just activities. 
  • Establishing a safe home environment where the child knows that they can express themselves in whatever way they feel most comfortable. Making it known that they are loved and accepted for who they are - no matter what.
  • Making an active effort to challenge some of the negative messages in the media; encouraging discussion and for the child to think critically about some of the messages they’re fed, instead of defaulting to accepting them as “the norm”. This isn’t to say that you have to act like anything gendered is “bad”, just be open about the fact that everyone is different, and will like different things.

I have heard of people trying to raise “genderless” children (i.e. this story) and I don’t know how I feel about it. It feels a little too “social experiment” for my liking. I think balance and creating a safe, loving and open environment where the child feels secure exploring and developing their own person is probably the best approach.



Ran Ortner (b.1959, USA)

San Francisco-born artist Ran Ortner’s background as a professional motorcycle racer influenced his interest in art. Drawn to the physicality and energy of motorcycle racing, Ortner later transferred this dynamism into his approach to painting:

"Water is a manifestation of the multitude of wave energies that surround us, a formless, colorless, tasteless, odorless “billowing solid” (Wallace Stevens), visible to our eye only with the addition of light. A single drop potentially mirrors everything that surrounds it. Water embodies the concept of endlessness, of complexities repeated fractally from one drop to the vast sea. I expose the identity of the ancient body of the ocean with integrity by being hyper-observant to its nature, focusing on the structure, synchronicity, and oscillations of the waves.

Yet I am interested in conveying how the ocean resonates, rather than depicting it. Constantly moving in a dance that mirrors the tempo of the human body, waves break in time with the beating of our hearts, the in and out of our breaths, like a metronome marking the present moment: now, now. My paintings are about being immersed in this present. For that reason, the horizon and any other reference points are disappeared, a move that detaches my work from the tradition of marine paintings, from Caspar David Friedrich, Turner, the Hudson River. Now we are not a distant observer, but all in.

How I paint today evolved from the minimalism I practiced for years while making all white panels that echo the reign of space and silence, the sparseness of Rainer Maria Rilke “living the questions.” The courage and emotional complexity of Rembrandt also influence my work, which nevertheless lives in the continuity of Abstract Expressionism. It connects with the luminosity and vastness of Mark Rothko’s transcendent fields of color as well as the vitality and intensity of Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings.

Each day, in one painting after the next, I attend to an ever deeper engagement and understanding.”

[more Ran Ortner | artist recommended by loic-arnaud]