How can I put this politely? I do not want to go to your gender reveal party. Nor do I want to see photos and videos from it, either. The overblown hyper-focus over genitalia is weird. And has nothing to do with gender identity, by the way. Gender identity is formed and developed in the brain. Not in the nether regions. Have you considered that your child might be born intersex? What will you do then?
According to the Intersex Society of America, “Myth #10: First we need to acknowledge that it’s hard to say exactly how frequent intersex is, because the sex spectrum is like the color spectrum; nature provides us with a range where one “type” blends imperceptibly into the next. For our linguistic and social convenience, we break that spectrum into categories. It makes it easier to talk about “that blue car” or “that man over there.” But nature doesn’t tell us that there are 7, or 10, or 100, or ten million colors, and nature doesn’t even know that there are two sexes. We humans, with our words and our cultures, decide how many categories to delineate. While the “male” and “female” types are relatively common, nature presents a full range of sex types, and people decide where the line should be drawn between “female” and “intersex” or “intersex” and “male.” That said, we do know that about 1 in 2,000 children is born with genitals that are pretty confusing to all the adults in the room. We know this from the statistics of how many newborn babies are referred to “gender identity teams” in major hospitals.
But wait, you say, 1 in 2,000 sounds rare! Well, if only 1 in 2,000 persons is intersexed, then intersex is more common than cystic fibrosis, a condition most people have heard of.”
The conflict I struggle with is that I am sincerely and genuinely happy for you. Loving a child unconditionally is the most honorable act a human can do. And there is the rub…unconditionally. Starting off a parent/child relationship pre-determining who they are without their input can lead to some major misunderstandings down the road.
Even in our own parenting choices, we thought we were taking a moral high ground by choosing a gender-neutral name, room colors and decorations. Somewhere along the way, green and yellow unofficially became the official colors representing gender neutrality. Which is ridiculous, as my #AlliesInAction students will attest. Colors have NO gender.
Baby showers became hard enough post transition. The pink and blue decorations are stifling. The gendered baby games make my skin crawl now. It takes all my might not to scream, “HOW do you know?”
This must seem selfish to you. I understand why it would. If you don’t know anyone who has struggled with gender identity I can see how this issue would feel far removed. I suppose what I want to really convey is that if I do come to your baby shower or gender reveal party (which is highly unlikely) I will probably be reserved, standing off in a corner, avoiding eye contact. Or have a glazed look in my eyes. I may bolt unexpectedly. You may notice I am not participating in the games or eating a heavily dyed cake representing your unborn child’s genitalia.
I want to do my best to honor you and your future family. Just not at the expense of projecting old stereotypes and limitations onto your child, like I did my own.