Doctor Who’s Jodie Whittaker Was Raised As Gender Neutral

“My brother and I were raised gender-neutral before it was even considered a thing,” Jodie Whittaker said of her upbringing.

By Ross Bonaime | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

Jodie Whittaker

In a recent interview with The Times, Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker discussed her childhood, saying her parents raised her and her brother gender-neutral.

“My brother and I were raised gender-neutral before it was even considered a thing,” Jodie Whittaker said of her upbringing. “We were given equal opportunities and thrown into the same activities. Our parents told us that our social skills and sports were just as important as academic results. They wanted me to be well rounded, able to have a proper conversation and have an inquisitive mind.”

In 2017, Jodie Whittaker became the thirteenth doctor on Doctor Who, taking up the role after Peter Capaldi, and the first woman to play the role. In an interview with The Wrap in 2018, Whittaker discussed gender when it comes to playing Doctor Who. “The fact that a woman is playing an alien over a man playing an alien kind of is irrelevant to the qualifications. It’s playing an alien, and so the gender is irrelevant.”

Jodie Whittaker Doctor Who
Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor

Jodie Whittaker went on to say, “Essentially, it’s not a gender – the Doctor is a Time Lord, an alien with two hearts. Those things don’t change. The body changes, and the body change between [Christopher Eccleston], David [Tennant] and Matt [Smith] and Peter [Capaldi] – obviously it’s the [same] gender but it’s a very different form that the doctor’s regenerated into, and I am an extension of that change. But not a diversion from it.”

Jodie Whittaker has often had to defend Doctor Who’s choice of casting a woman for their latest doctor, but thankfully, it seems like the silly backlash against Whittaker’s casting has died down. In a vote handled by the RadioTimes this week, Whittaker was voted the second-best Doctor in the show’s history, narrowly losing to David Tennant by just ninety-five votes. 

Therefore it should also be exciting to fans of Doctor Who that earlier this year, via Entertainment Weekly, Jodie Whittaker admitted that she’s not leaving the role just yet. “Yes, I’m doing another season,” Whittaker says. “That might be a massive exclusive that I’m not supposed to say, but it’s unhelpful for me to say [I don’t know] because it would be a massive lie! I absolutely adore it. At some point, these shoes are going to be handed on, but it’s not yet. I’m clinging on tight!” 

David Tennant
David Tennant as the Doctor

Last week, we reported that unfortunately Doctor Who probably won’t be returning for its thirteenth season until 2022 at the earliest, due to the coronavirus. However, according to Express, Doctor Who’s Christmas special for 2020 has already been filmed and is ready for broadcast.

In 2015, Jodie Whittaker and her husband Christian Contreras gave birth to their daughter, but it’s unclear if they will also make the choice to raise her gender-neutral. In fact, the couple is so private when it comes to their daughter, they have never revealed her name. 

Some parents, including celebrities have begun avoiding gender pronouns when it comes to their children. Celebrities such as Adele, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, and Angelina Jolie all say they have raised their children as gender-neutral.

Doctor Who
Doctor Who’s “World Enough and Time”

Long before Jodie Whittaker, Doctor Who has frequently commented on gender. It makes sense, considering the fluidity of the Doctor. In series ten, episode eleven, “World Enough and Time,” the Doctor explained of his kind, “We’re the most civilized civilization in the universe. We’re billions of years beyond your petty human obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes.” In the comic story, A Little Help from My Friends,” Whittaker’s version of the doctor stated, “Biological sex is flexible among my people, and gender is merely a social construct.”

The fluidity of Doctor Who has been a part of the character for decades, a groundbreaking concept at the time. When Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor, left the part in 1980, he said, “I wish my successor, whoever he or she might be, the best of luck.” In 1986, Canadian producer Sydney Newman told former BBC Chairman Michael Grade, “At a later stage, Doctor Who should be metamorphosed into a woman” and that he hoped to “avoid a flashy, Hollywood Wonder Woman because this kind of heroine with no flaws is a bore.”

Regardless of her upbringing or how she identifies, Jodie Whittaker has been a great addition to the world of Doctor Who, and an excellent choice for the first female Doctor.