ArtfullyAutistic
Published in

ArtfullyAutistic

Why do gender reveal parties cause more harm to Autistic/ND, Trans and GNC folks than good?

Photo by Isabella and Zsa Fischer on Unsplash

Origin(s) of detrimental gender reveal parties

The idea of a gender reveal party originated in 2008 During Present (DP), when a non-intersex and allocishet (also typically) and neurotypical white woman named Jenna Karvunidis baked a cake with pink icing inside of it to celebrate the fact that she was having an infant who she previously deemed to be a “girl”. She wrote about the act in a blog post, which was a catalyst for the gender reveal party trend that would later become more than only a small trend, but not in some beneficial light, oh no, rather a more detrimental one that would also harm the environment around expecting parents in more ways than one.

“Who cares what gender the baby is?” She said in a Facebook post made in July. “Assigning focus on gender at birth leaves out so much of their potential and talents that have nothing to do with what’s between their legs” (Blunt, 2019).

Karvunidis also stated in another Facebook post that demonstrated her justifiable frustration and anger towards the trend created from her blog post that was meant to be a place of solace for herself and anyone else reading them.

“Stop having those stupid parties. For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid’s penis. No one cares but you” (Hope, 2020).

You hear that, NTs? If this NT woman has a shred of humanity when it comes to folks exploring their gender while experimenting with pronouns and gender in general, then so can you if you put your own humanity to it while also putting your own beliefs around those parties aside.

Gender reveal parties and how they continue to protect and uplift intersexism/perisexism, cissexism, heterosexism and the colonialist gender and sex binaries

During a pregnant person’s baby shower, a gender reveal party is more of an announcement that hypes up and excites expecting parents whether they will have a baby who is a “girl” or a “boy”. Typically, those parties act more like a mystery that will turn into a surprise for a usually perisex and allocishet NT monogamous couple. At a scan of 20 weeks into pregnancy, there are some couples that will ask a sonographer (medical detectives that utilise technical skills, ultrasound skills [depending on training], including a subjective understanding of the human body to produce diagnostic images and/or scans {etc.}) to write down the binaristic options of “girl” or “boy” on a piece of paper and then put it into an envelope. Those couples will then give the envelope to a trusted friend or a relative (whether they’re a nibling, sibling, or a pibling [basically referring to the sibling(s) of a parent(s) that is specifically a unisex singular noun; plural: piblings]). Guests usually demonstrate their gender predictions and especially their excitement (again, depends on how they personally feel about said parties) by wearing pink or blue, then they participate in activities before the sex of the couple’s infant is revealed.

“It’s not just to do with gender,” she adds onto her honest and factual statement. “What if your child is born disabled or doesn’t fit into a particular version of what a baby or child should be?” (Blunt, 2019).

Gender reveal parties are also a real-life example of a metaphor for the harmful consequences of a deeper, rigid cultural message. A pyrotechnic (relating to fireworks) display of pink or blue reflecting the long-term poison of boxing infants into Eurocentric, binaristic categories that don’t even reflect who they are before they explore what gender means to them as individuals. By slapping a meaningless colour label (that shouldn’t mean much in the real world, but here we are) before they even exit the human vagina (can also be referred to as a birth canal). We are preventing those infants from developing their own autonomy and self-determination in terms of exploring their own internal senses of their gender(s) and to continuously control that identity online and especially as they grow up to be adults trying to survive a gender and sex binaristic world.

How those gender parties have impacted the environment in a detrimental way while also intersecting with social (etc) and societal consequences of the gender binary

Gender reveal parties have also impacted the environment in the destruction of forests, wildlife habitats, including fires that have started because of those parties. For example, one gender reveal party have caused a massive wildfire in Southern California, which has been nicknamed the El Dorado fire that has damaged acres of trees. Another example: In March of 2019 DP, a 10-acre bushfire was also started by a gender reveal party in Florida.

“The popularity of gender-reveal parties speaks to how powerful and central this binary is to our sense of identity,” She states. “Still, they make me a little queasy. By collapsing gender expression, gender identity, and sex, you’re doing everyone a disservice, because no one buys into the whole package all the time.” She then adds to her previous statement (based on her lived experiences). “You’re especially doing a disservice to those who are intersex or transgender, who must spend their lives explaining it. It’s frustrating that this is now a commercialized ritual, when it can be so alienating” (Stopyra, 2017).

Hann Lindahl, another intersex person who is a bakery manager in Illinois expressed that her first job after college in supervising the management of gender reveal cakes was a “weird” experience (Stopyra, 2017), although she enjoyed her first job in other terms, she reported feeling a sense of relief when she left the perisex-normative and allocisheteronormative environment. She is still collaborating with interACT (a non-profit advocacy organisation aiding intersex folks while instilling a sense of self-advocacy and liberation in intersex individuals, whether they are children, youth, and/or adults) to advocate for intersex youth.

“It’s important to be aware how much we project onto children, especially in terms of gender, because it can be so rigid, so harmful,” Lindahl expressed (Stopyra, 2017).

Nonetheless, W. Keith Campbell (head of the department of psychology at the University of Georgia and a nationally recognised expert on the misunderstood, but widely demonised subject of “narcissism”) spoke from their perspective on how a concept of “self-celebration” (as defined from the Sarah Powell website, “celebrating the person you are now; not your future self or not the person you wish to be. It is about accepting, encouraging and empowering yourself in this moment”) is also present there as well. As stated:

“And there is something to be said for the communal aspect of sharing something meaningful with friends, which I don’t want to downplay. But there’s self-celebration taking place here as well. We can link this to narcissism and individualism” (Stopyra, 2017).

How those parties reinforce the gender binary and also prevent Autistic/ND folks in exploring their own gender(s)

The colonialist and Eurocentric gender binary is reinforced by those parties, since it is an artificial thing that places “men” on one end, and “women” on the other end, and people at those “polar ends” are believed to be comprised of “”opposite”” sets of internal and external genitalia, chromosomes, and secondary sex characteristics (etc.), internal sense of gender, how they express that internal sense, social roles, and subsequent privileges and oppressions. It’s considered by most as “”just the way things are”” (heh, that’s some bullsh*t if I ever heard one real-life example of it). However, we have to remind ourselves something… everything we take for granted sustaining this artificial binary is actually subjective.

“Myths like these often lead to treacherous outcomes. For example, proponents of traditional gender roles often cite them to argue why “a woman’s place is x.” When challenged, they often state that they didn’t make up these roles — that instead, they’re embedded in the building blocks of life” (Pagonis, 2016).

Hell, they even said that those parties make the worst mistake by placing patriarchal gender roles onto children before they’re even born, because heavily gendered expectations, such as those perceived as “girls” expected to be “nicer”, “prettier”, and “quiet”, and those who are perceived as “boys” being expected to “not cry”, to be “macho”, and to not “care” about their personal hygiene since they create no room for “failure”. To translate from a cisgender perspective to a transgender/gender-modal perspective, “failure” meaning for a child to not fit into arbitrary expectations, adhere to some bullsh*t plan, and to not make a (typically) non-intersex, allocishet and white neurotypical parent feel “good enough”.

“A real feminist is intersectional, an anarchist human being, one with a strong sense of humanity and has sincere support towards others and/or for many causes, not being actually mainstream nor uncritically weaponising mental health language to make themselves seem saintly than they actually do, unlike Rowling and other white/mainstream fauxminists (‘fake feminists’)”.

-The author himself, 2021 D.P. (During Present)

Final Thoughts

Gender reveal parties that some neurotypical, non-intersex and allocishet families are obsessed with (regardless of their Western or non-Western cultures and culturally insensitive beliefs of what “gender” is supposed to and not supposed to look like), can really f*ck with an Autistic child’s perception of their gender, because parents hammering their binaristic beliefs into them can really make them struggle with their sense of their gender(s), and can really invalidate the gender(s) they, themself, are exploring with, not the binary “gender” they’ve been forced to conform into their entire lives by institutions, families, and by society itself. Autistic Trans/Gender-modal folks face plenty of concerns that NT and Trans/Gender-modal folks and cis Autistic folks don’t have to worry about and don’t have to think about. Some concerns are systemic and take entire decades and/or millennia to change, whereas some, like family support and understanding (varying from family/culture to family/culture) can start in the current environment.

If you do those things to your own children, then you’re the one destroying their relationship with you and they’ll have to cut you off and not want to think about interacting with you ever again for their own safety and well-being once they move out from your home because you, yourself, are the one who’s destroying their trust and their security with you, NEVER the other way around, EVER.

However, if you are a perisex/non-intersex and allocishet NT person who is willing to educate themself on what being Trans, Gender-modal and/or Autistic feels like from one’s perspective, then you’re at a very good start of a long journey, because both you and your child will need to support each other now than ever, and researching articles that do not include ignorant NT perspectives, speaking to other Autistic Trans and Gender-modal individuals of all intersectionalities, educating yourself on LGBTQIAP2S+/MOGAI terminology, listening to your own child(ren) and activists are your greatest friends to trust and stick with!

You are valid, you’re not and never will be alone, you are loved, and most importantly, you deserve to liberate yourself, others around you, and to keep fighting against this f*cked up binaristic system because there’s plenty of trusted people, SpIns, and a lot to be fighting for!

With solidarity, acceptance, and being humanitarian,

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
BloodyWinter01♾✡️🎧🍓

[They/He/Xe]|Autistic| This is a safe space for you to read in the comfort of your home! You can find my ko-fi at: https://ko-fi.com/ravenfridmar43791