Forced gender can be dangerous. This should be a well-known fact at this point. For many people, like myself, who don’t identify as the gender they were assigned at birth, the idea of an assigned gender role can be suffocating. It can lead to harsh questioning of yourself and denial over your own identity. It can lead to gender dysphoria, anxiety, depression. Forcing gender on to somebody can be incredibly damaging.
But it’s never been so damaging on as large of a scale as it is right now with the California wildfires. Forced gender identity has destroyed entire towns, burned down homes and businesses, and taken the lives of several people.
In Oregon, wind and the unfortunate consequences of mother nature caused the fires we saw in the last few weeks. But in San Bernardino, Cal., the fire that has burned over 22,000 acres of land was set off by a pyrotechnic device used at an ever-popular gender reveal party.
So let’s get one thing straight. Gender reveal parties are stupid. The entire idea of it is pointless. Soon-to-be parents invite a bunch of friends and family over to their house so they can loudly assign the gender of their child based on their sex. This is usually done in some fun, Insta-ready fashion, such as with pink or blue balloons or (see above) a smoke bomb.
Gender reveal parties are a product of social media and gender stereotypes that have been forced upon us and taught for centuries. They are the new, stylish way of enforcing old, out-of-date ideas on identity. Pink for girls, blue for boys. In the world of gender reveals, there is no middle ground. If you have a penis, you are a boy. You will like trucks, and sports, and blue. If you have a vagina, I hate to break it to you, but you are a girl, and you will be damned if you don’t go put on your pinkest dress and your brightest lipstick, thank you very much.
Let’s be honest. We, as a society, have moved past this. At least we should have at this point. There is a whole spectrum of genders out there: Transgender, bigender, genderfluid, agender, genderqueer, nonbinary, demigender. The list goes on. Just as there exists a spectrum of sexuality, there too exists a rainbow of gender. And speaking from experience, as someone who just came out and accepted their own gender identity, it is incredibly freeing.
Assigning a gender to your child before they’re even born, before they even have time to learn who they are and who they want to be, is to put them in a box. They might fit, or they might suffocate. It’s safer to let them grow into the person and gender they choose. And in the process, with the smoke bombs out of the picture, your decision to ditch the party might just save lives. — Bren Swogger
Bren Swogger is a journalism major at Pacific University Class of 2021. They currently live in Oregon City, OR. They are the creator of Indie/Alt Magazine, and also write for Vortex Music Magazine in Portland.