Gender neutral ... parents let child discover what they like without gender stereotypes.

Gender neutral ... parents let child discover what they like without gender stereotypes.

THEY referred to the baby as ''the infant'', allowed the child to play with only ''gender-neutral toys'' and alternated between girls' and boys' outfits for their offspring.

This left friends, playmates and relatives of British couple Beck Laxton and Kieran Cooper guessing as to the child's gender. For five years, the child was raised as ''gender neutral'' so the infant's ''real personality'' could shine through.

But the couple have finally revealed the child's sex - he's a boy named Sasha - after it became harder to conceal when he started at primary school.

Miss Laxton, 46, a web editor, said she thought gender stereotyping was ''fundamentally stupid''.

She admitted the couple's stance had caused them to suffer some ostracism and she had been branded a ''loony'' by other parents. But she felt it was worth it.

''I don't think I'd do it if I thought it was going to make him unhappy, but at the moment he's not really bothered either way,'' she said.

Only a handful of immediate family members were told of the baby's gender after the birth. Sasha wears a ''ruched-sleeved'' girl's shirt as part of his school uniform.

He is also encouraged to wear flowery tops at weekends.

Mr Cooper, 44, a computer software designer, said his son liked to play with Lego and dolls. ''We wanted to challenge gender stereotypes and so, if Sasha wants to dress up in girls' clothes, then so be it. But we are not forcing it.''

A psychology lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, Dr Daragh McDermott, said the effect of raising a gender-neutral child on the child was not yet known.

Telegraph, London