Storify: Gender Reveal Parties

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

[Content Note: Pregnancy]

Cis people, we need to talk.

Look, can I speak plainly? I get it. You're about to have a baby. EVERYTHING is interesting about that baby. I get it. If there were parties for the length of the baby's fingernails, you'd throw a Baby Fingernail Party. Your baby is your PROJECT. I get it.

But that baby is also gonna be a person. A person who deserves privacy and dignity and respect from the people in your life. And you're throwing a party to tell all your friends about the configuration of your baby's genitals. Can you see how that's kinda invasive? Would you throw a Genital Celebration Party for a new friend? "EVERYONE, MY NEWEST FRIEND HAS A VAGINA, PER THIS PINK CAKE I'M SERVING." When you got married, did you have a special cake that have a Number of Tiers = Number of Penile Inches to celebrate your husband's penis? Do you openly and freely discuss the genitals of your friends and loved ones in elaborate public ceremonies?

I fully realize that because of the way we assign gender right now, you're kinda stuck on revealing genitalia if you use he/her pronouns but one thing you DO have control over is NOT having gigantic elaborate ceremonies over the baby's genitals as though it's SO IMPORTANT. Have a "baby fingernails" party! Have a "reached the third trimester" party! Have a "baby coming" party! Just not a Genital Reveal party. You can discreetly share a thing ("We'll be using she/her pronouns until she tells us otherwise") without making it a GIANT EVENT.

Blowing up boxes of blue smoke or throwing axes at balloons full of pink sand or cutting cake to reveal a color... STAPH. STOP. Investing all this tension and anticipation and importance into a bit of skin between our legs is bad for your kid and our culture. And this invested ~importance~ on our bits ties into genital surgery on infants to align them with adult aesthetics and values. Bad.

Also just the gentlest of reminders that the aggressive gendering of your infant in the womb is a ploy to fleece you of money. Blue sheet! Blue diapers! Blue curtains! Blue paint! Blue toys! Blue clothes! None of which can EVER be reused on a girl baby! So if you wanna be like "fuck capitalism" and buy all yellow and green and reuse EVERYTHING as much as possible, you're winning already. Being "less incidentally transphobic" is good for your baby AND your wallet.

I have straight-up known parents who decorated in pink and then felt they had to rush and buy all new blue everything when a penis came out. How surreal that seems to me now, the memory of this sleep-deprived new daddy leaving the hospital to RUSH to the store for blue things. Everyone agreed that it was an emergency. They couldn't take the baby home to PINK sheets. And he wasn't a bad guy! I need to stress that! Leaving his frazzled wife at the hospital to Emergency Shop For Blue was a joint decision! But, I mean... how fucking weird is that? So weird in retrospect.

Okay, cis people? I need you to lean in here and listen?

There is a BIG VAST GULF OF OPTIONS between "raising a child gender neutral" and "drape them in pink the moment they're born". I get that you read an article once about how raising a baby as gender neutral "harmed" them and now you have Feelings. But you will please do me the courtesy of noting that I never suggested you raise a child gender-neutral. In fact, I even gave you a handy script for using assigned-birth-gender pronouns if you want!

Every. Damn. Time. I talk about how fucked up gender reveal parties are, someone cis gripes about raising children gender neutrally. Which I never suggested, but apparently some cis people think these are the ONLY TWO OPTIONS? Like,

option 1: raise a child with they/them pronouns
option 2: put him in a tiny penis costume so everyone knows


This just in: there are a whole bunch of ways to use gendered pronouns for a kid without having a PARTY around his penis. (Also, btw jsyk, Baby Penis Parties are a new phenomena developed by marketers so you look foolish insisting they're a universal thing. You honestly look like those MRA guys who insist Barbie proportions have always been universally valued by men.)

@TerraSirena: Isn’t it a bit weird how gender reveal parties are a thing but *names* are just sort of told? “We’re calling her ‘her’” is a party but “we’re calling her ‘Emma’” is a conversation.

@StoryHospital: There's this enduring myth that "gender-neutral parenting" means "my child is NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE A GENDER". This is wrong. The "gender reveal parties or all beige clothing forever" dichotomy is massively, massively false. Gender-neutral parenting means you give your kid choices:

* what to wear
* what to play with
* what to call themself

Addendum: Please don't explain to me a fetus isn't bothered by a genital party when I specifically talked about the impact on our culture.

Thread Necromancy: It's interesting to me how many people see Purity Balls as creepy but not Gender Reveal parties. They're essentially on the same spectrum. They're incredibly new things invented by patriarchal marketing revolving around parental control.

Purity Balls are about a parent asserting ownership over their kid's genitals. Gender Reveal parties are about revealing a kid's genitals. In both cases, the genitals in question (and what goes along with them; gender in one case, sex in the other) are dominated by the parent. An adult has ownership over their own genitals; what to share, what to reveal. A child, in these cases, is alleged to NOT have ownership.

Both of these attitudes (that privacy/agency is for adults, not kids) stem from the idea that children are possessions rather than people. Anyway, if you can see why Purity Balls are creepy but not Gender Reveal Parties, maybe consider the similarities, thanks.

Also, it is no coincidence that these parties have moved from cakes to displays of violence: guns, bombs, axes, darts. We live in a society which uses violence to police gender identity. We are now wedding that same violence to "gender reveal" parties. The symbolism is important. The ManlyMan shooting the smoke box with his manly gun ties into the SAME man policing his daughter's sexuality. That Man-With-Gun-Protecting-His-Family who polices his daughter's gender and sexuality from birth to ownership transfer can turn on her.

I think it's important to understand that Conservative bigotry towards bodily autonomy, queerness, and transness is all intertwined. There is a DEEP hostility in Conservative circles towards children having autonomy to choose a different script from what was given them. Draping an AFAB child in pink and showing her genital pictures to everyone is on the same spectrum as that "Future Wife" onesie. You can't repudiate the one while embracing the other, because it doesn't WORK that way. The enforced gender AND the sexuality are LINKED.

The problem is that cis liberals have tried to thread that needle and keep the cute transphobia while rejecting the forced sexuality. And I get it! You didn't know better! Conservatives market this shit REALLY WELL. That's what they do. But you know now.

*trans benediction gesture* go and sin no more.

(I wanted to say "go and cis no more" but my mentions would EXPLODE, so.)


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