To baby shower or not to baby shower

To baby shower or not to baby shower

What would you do if a heteronormative person invited you to their baby shower or gender reveal party? After being invited to a baby shower, editor-in-chief Kris van der Voorn was confronted with an internal battle in which love and norms faced each other. 

What would you do if a heteronormative person invited you to their baby shower or gender reveal party? This is a question I’ve been wrestling with for years. Especially during the first few years after my coming-out I would want to refuse the invite and not go, and sometimes even explain my position to the people concerned. But since more and more people around me started getting their own children, I’ve realised that the world isn’t as black-and-white, and that it might be better to let some things go. Out of love for the unborn child. 

It will be a surprise to no one that, as a genderqueer person, I’m not the biggest fan of gender reveal parties. The idea alone already seems strange to me—a group of people comes together to cut a cake or pop a balloon (or, in some cases, poison an important water source and cause a small climate disaster), from which a pigment appears that will tell you which pronouns you will use to refer to your child. 

So when I was asked to come to the baby shower of an important person in my life, I felt dread. I find it difficult to see children being pushed into a specific gender before they’re born, because this has been something that was so painful for me. And the child in question had indeed already been given one. From a certain sense of duty towards my community I wanted to make a statement and not go. But this also didn’t feel good, because both the mother and this child are very dear to me, and I absolutely did not want to drive a wedge between us. Which meant that until the weekend of the party I still didn’t know whether I would or wouldn’t go. Until my mother helped me get over my doubts. 

My mum. Kind sweet person. Always there for me, and also always notices when I’m struggling with something. As was the case this time as well. She called me: “whether I still wanted to go to the baby shower?” She immediately saw through my doubt. Made me realise that because of my past experiences I look at these structures in this way, but that for many people this is still very new, and that they’re not where I’m at yet. She made me realise how much my family loves me and tries to value me as I am—just as much as I try to do the same for them. 

I don’t know whether the structures that have been so difficult for me will also negatively affect other children. Whether they’ll start feeling bad because of the pressure that is being pushed by gender. It was better, I realised, for me in this case to take a step back, have peace with the fact that there are different ways to look at this so I can keep a good relationship with the people who are having these children. And that if they one day start running into the same problems, they will at least have someone in their life who they can talk to about it and who understands what their doubts and insecurities mean. To explain to them that a life lesson is not set in stone, and that you can carve out your own path. To help create the space within which they can fully be themselves. And after that to choose for themselves whether they’ll still go to baby showers.

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