Friday 22 November 2019
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businessinsider - 14 days ago

A grandmother died during a gender reveal party. It’s time to end these rituals permanently.

A grandmother died at a gender reveal party in Iowa this month when a piece of debris struck her in the head. Even before the tragedy, Haig Chahinian, a career counselor and gay dad to a teenage girl, always felt troubled by the popular pre-birth ritual. Chahinian said he doesn t know any LGBTQ people who have hosted gender reveal parties because they reinforce labels that stifle individuals like him. Visit Insider s homepage for more stories. I was rattled by the news that an Iowa grandmother died at a gender reveal party this month when a piece of debris struck the 56-year-old woman in the head. The family had likely hoped to spray festive bright blue or pink powder to announce the sex of the newborn-to-be. In the process, the inadvertently created a pipe bomb. Even before this tragedy, gender reveal gatherings like a pre-baby shower designed to bring together loved ones have always made me uncomfortable. These events enforce either-or thinking, branding everyone him or her forever, even before having a chance to enter the world. The unsuspecting individual is then expected to follow a strict code based solely on their genitals. As a gay dad with a 14 year-old daughter, I ve constantly battled these norms. Even before a woman died at a gender reveal party, I thought the popular ritual was troubling At school in navy pants and white short sleeves, I preferred playing hopscotch, jumping rope, throwing jacks instead of strikes. I was popular with female classmates, but was taunted by the boys. Part of me wanted to worship sports like they did. But hanging upside down on the monkey bars, I didn t want to fit into a category. I wanted acceptance. At the University of Southern California it seemed wrong for me to kiss a guy. Back then, gay marriage was perfectly illegal. My destiny was to marry a wife, earn money, and provide for our children while passing down our ancient culture. At night I lay shaking in my dorm bed, considering my limited options. Ending my life seemed like the logical solution. Then a feminist theory professor I adored helped me realize gender wasn t fixed. It s made-up, she said. You can reject social constructs. Your genitalia should not dictate how you express yourself in the world. I realized if I cast aside the toxic idea of gender, I could choose to be with someone who just happened to have a penis as well. I slowly discarded every notion I held about what it meant to be a man. Her words were like a get out of jail card for my heart. While I was lucky to come out alive, not everyone is. According to the Centers for Disease Control, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth were more than twice as likely as their hetero-identified peers to have attempted suicide. More than half of trans male teens surveyed reported attempting suicide in their lifetime, as did about 30% of trans female teens, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The higher suicide risk may be a result of being marginalized or experiencing discrimination. Trans youth are at an increased risk for depression, too, according to Harvard scientist Sari Reisner. He noted that if a person is not being seen for who they are, it can be very distressing. No LGBTQ person I know has ever organized a gender reveal party The trend of hosting jubilees focused on a narrow definition of gender could contribute to these kinds of problems. No LGBTQ person I know has ever organized such a shindig. I get the fuss about making a big to-do of your joyous bundle. Sometimes what you expect when you re expecting is cake, ice cream, and confetti, captured in photos that garner lots of social media likes. In a twist, Jenna Karvundis, the woman credited with inventing the gender reveal concept, has had a change of heart. There s more emphasis on gender than has ever been necessary for a baby, she said this summer. Who cares what gender the baby is? I got lucky again when I fell for Peter, a cute New York City history buff who wanted a family, too. When we heard through our adoption agency that we were having a girl, we were excited to heap on her our unconditional love. We made a pact never to box her in. We resisted the pink toy aisle at big box stores. Later when gift-wrapped Barbies showed up on our doorstep, we donated the impossibly shaped dolls to the local thrift shop. Letting myself daydream, I envisioned her picking up the piano where I d left off, and sharing my passion for cooking luleh kebab. When I found out I would be adopting a girl, I made a pact to never box her in The first time she stirred a pot of lentil soup, I saw her on a future cover of Food and Wine magazine. Yet when my temper flared, she retreated from the kitchen. I hoped something special was in store when she agreed to learn the keyboard. It didn t feel so unique when she dropped music lessons after a few months. Still, she surprised me by tossing a football in perfect spirals as a tween. Now in junior high, she enjoys shooting hoops, and in a reversal of roles, she s teaching me how to be a spectator. Rule No. 1: When she scores, I am not supposed to yell basket! Better to clap. But not too loud. For a recent birthday, my mother gave her granddaughter two pair of sneakers. Lately my child had ditched the dresses we d bought in favor of athletic shorts and sweatshirts. I didn t love her new schleppy style. I grumbled about it to my mother. Let her be, my mom said. You ve given her room to express herself. She s just using it. I was still learning to embrace all of my daughter. Now that was something to celebrate. Read more: Tom Brady s son doesn t like sports, and every parent can learn from how the quarterback has reacted Fertility clinics are offering add-on treatments to desperate couples that are expensive and potentially dangerous A mysterious marketing scheme sends congratulatory cards to women who aren t pregnant. One recipient thought it was her daughter s cute way of telling her she was expecting. Join the conversation about this story NOW WATCH: People are still debating the pink or grey sneaker, 2 years after it went viral. Here s the real color explained.


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