The gender reveal party
Jessica Abigail Liebelt
As a transgender woman and writer, I find a lot of opportunities to get frustrated. “The Gender Reveal Party” was written out of frustration. I aimed to draw attention to the ways in which practices and rituals of a cisnormative/heteronormative society can be harmful to trans and gender non-conforming people. I wanted to show the absurdity of assigning a gender at birth based on biological signifiers. Cis society makes an assumption that every child has a gender at birth, all because we are born with different genitals. This assumption is now codified in a ritual called the “gender reveal party”, in which the parents of the child tell everyone about the configuration of the child’s genitals. This is usually done by opening a box to reveal coloured balloons or cutting a cake with a specific colour inside. These assumptions follow trans people throughout our whole lives, and feel impossible to escape.
Gender; Transphobia; Absurdism; Dysphoria; Queer Issues
You’re at a gender reveal party cutting a cake. But when you cut into the cake, the cake is pie. It looks like a custard pie, but when you taste it, it’s a meat gravy. Cutting further reveals chunks of meat. You ask what kind of meat it is, but everyone around you remains silent. They’re grinning. Too wide.
You’re cutting into a gender reveal pie, but it’s actually pie. What kind of pie is it? It’s cake pie. Everyone’s looking away. You cut into the cake, and find a note. The note reads:
You cut into a gender reveal cake, and the knife you were holding is gone, revealing instead a large sharp fish. It squirms out of your hand and flops onto the cake, which bursts its pie filling everywhere. Your guests applaud.
You wake up and cut into the gender reveal fish. It tells you to mind the bones or you’ll be in real trouble. You’re walking down 51st street in New York. Now you’re in Paris. Now you’re in City-5 on Mars. Now you’re holding your child. They ask you why their genitals should decide their gender.
You push the plunger on the gender reveal dynamite. As it blows the side off your house you wonder how this was meant to inform anyone of the baby’s gender. ‘Congratulations,’ say the partygoers, ‘it’s a beautiful baby meat’.
You’re holding a baby and they reveal their gender to you. It shines brightly, cycling many colours. Vibrant blues and greens, then purplish oranges, greenish reds, colours you’ve only dreamed of. You’re holding a baby. You’re sure you’re holding a baby. What else could it possibly be?
You’re revealing your own gender. No one accepts it. You’re turned away from all support, you’re fired from your job, your wife leaves you, your mother and father won’t talk to you, everyone you’ve ever known questions and critiques you endlessly about the gender you’ve revealed to them.
You’re at a gender reveal party and you’ve never felt more alone. You’re at a gender reveal party and you want to sleep. You’ve been at this gender reveal party for so long now and it follows you wherever you go. You’re at a gender reveal party and you can never leave.
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