Dear HuffPost Twitter…

I’d like respectfully to suggest that you stop posting stories (2 within hours of each other today!) about women who find “cute” ways to announce the “gender” of the babies they are expecting to birth.

It strikes me as pretty hypocritical, given than your off-shoot, HuffPostQueer, is simultaneously posting articles about various assaults on personal safety and dignity (they’ve been called “bathroom bills”) at the very same moment you are celebrating heterosexual families (at least the ones in the articles today) who find “fun” ways to announce (declare) the sex of their in-utero baby.

This kind of cis-privilege is hurtful to those of us who grew up trans or gender nonconforming or otherwise queer. It celebrates the very moment when parents declare to the world the sets of expectations they intend to put on their child–and the sets of expectations they condone the world using as well–until that child is old enough or brave enough or strong enough (or, might I remind you, not-dead enough) to make a self-crafted declaration about gender.

I might also remind you that many people who study and teach this stuff (people like me) find an important difference between the terms “sex” and “gender”.  While the assumptions we make regarding “sex” are flawed enough (“sex” intends to refer to biological condition, which is never as clear or as neat as we like to pretend), it’s extremely myopic to assume you can assess someone’s gender by knowing what sex they were assigned at birth (“gender” is used to refer to “the significance a sexed body assumes” in culture, according to scholar Judith Butler–essentially, it refers to the expression of a sex in the world, but doesn’t have to correspond to the assigned “sex”).  This disjunction between sex-assigned-at-birth and lived gender (whether or not it is publicly expressed) can be the source of so much pain and suffering and difficulty for folks when they are not supported by family and community.  Why are you celebrating parents-to-be who seem to be declaring that they aren’t able or willing to make an effort to support or understand their own kids?

I should also point out that the disjunction between one’s assigned-at-birth sex and one’s lived gender can also be the source of much joy, love, creativity and political motivation… especially when someone is supported in their efforts and thinking.

I was raised the child of two language teachers. English grammar was sutured into my bones from a young age. If I, at middle age, can adopt “they” as a personal, singular pronoun out of respect for a person’s desire to define the way in which they might be referenced in language, certainly the Huffington Post can get with the program to (1) learn the difference between sex and gender and (2) stop celebrating what is often felt as a misgendering at the least, and very often an act of insensitivity or hostility towards gender non-conforming and non-heteronormative folk of all sorts.

When the couple filled cupcakes with blue icing in order to announce that they were expecting a boy, they were announcing their expectations for that child before that child was even in the world. “Expecting” is right.

Also, as a little aside from me to you: before WWI, the meanings of the colors pink and blue were reversed from what we assign them now: pink was for boys, because it was a version of red, which is considered a “stronger” color than blue (which, in its softness, was assigned to girls).  So the only thing those cupcakes could mean reliably is… sweetness.

Oops. Sorry, cupcake parents. If it’s a boy, he won’t be sweet. He will be really masculine and tough and intelligent and a thinker not a feeler. That crap is for girls. You shouldn’t have filled that cupcake with blue icing, you should have filled it with snails and puppy dog tails and the tears of a thousand conquered enemies. And a much higher salary.


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