As Director of a gender neutral clothing company fighting for a Gender Free World, I want to discuss the headline in The Sun newspaper on Wednesday reporting parents' frustration with the 'barmy council' following a call for children as young as four to choose the gender they most identify with before starting school.
We're are at a key point in time for discussions around gender identity and I wouldn't say I agree with everything in The Sun report, however I do believe that Brighton & Hove City Council's new gender survey in primary schools is counterproductive.
Our stance on gender is that your gender is irrelevant. Your sex should not define your choices, how you are perceived by others and who you are as a person - in other words your biology and subsequent gender assumptions, should not pigeon hole you.
We understand that that Brighton & Hove City Council were trying to be inclusive by putting this on the form, but we do not think that this is appropriate. By getting children (or their parents) to define and categorise themselves at such an early age is actually counterproductive; it reinforces distinctions between genders and implies that a child's behaviour which may not fit in to what is perceived as 'boy or girl' behaviour somehow reflects their identity. At this age, (at all ages) children should be free to dress up, make believe, play with dolls or action men, dance ballet or play rugby and be themselves whatever their biology.
Our company are looking to stock a full range of gender neutral kids clothing alongside gender neutral toys and other appropriate goods and so we've been speaking with our children to discuss what matters to them and how they perceive this topic.
In an amazing response to the subject, one of our children, nine-year-old Charlie, said: "I am a human just like anyone on earth, just because I am a boy does not mean I have to play football or rugby, I can do things like gymnastics and netball. I am a boy, but If I want to do 'girl's stuff' I can, don't try and change me, I am Charlie deal with it."
I think it's great that more media coverage is being given to this subject but we all have to be aware that the term 'gender' can be interpreted in different ways and can be controversial. A lot of this has to do with the fact that the media can sometimes make it sound more confusing than it is. At Gender Free World we're not trying to tell people what they should call themselves or which box they should tick, we're just trying to ensure that stylish, fashionable clothes are available to buy for everyone regardless of their gender or body type. We're keeping it simple. We are not saying we want a world without gender only that it is unfair that gender can limit and restrict your choices which is why we've created our gender neutral fashion range in the first place.
With regards to Brighton & Hove City Council's proposal, in our view, it would actually be more liberating to remove the box asking that question altogether, gender should not define or limit you. I am Lisa, deal with it!