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Sidestepping a trap: a commentary on ‘why parents should not be told the sex of their fetus’
  1. Emily W Kane
  1. Correspondence to Dr Emily W Kane, Department of Sociology, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, 04240, USA; ekane{at}

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Sociologists and psychologists interested in gender socialisation and the social construction of gender have paid significant attention to the way parental behaviours and beliefs shape children's gender. But little attention has been paid to the way those processes begin even before birth. In her provocative and insightful article, Browne1 argues that such prebirth gendering is one of a multitude of reasons that parents should not be told the sex of their fetus even when medical professionals have determined it through Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) or any of a range of other prenatal tests. As a sociologist who has studied parental gendering, including what I refer to as the consequences of prebirth ‘gendered anticipation’, I consider Browne's argument a welcome and compelling one. I have written about this process in a 2012 book titled The Gender Trap: Parents and the Pitfalls of Raising Boys and Girls.2 I conceptualise the gender trap as “a set of expectations and structures that inhibit social change and stall many parents’ best intentions for loosening the limits that gender can impose upon us” …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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