The Gender Binary Continues to Be a Tragedy

Illustration for article titled The Gender Binary Continues to Be a Tragedy
Photo: U.S. Forest Service (AP)

Unfortunately, it’s been zero days since a gender reveal party has ended in casualties.

On Sunday, a soon-to-be father died while preparing the explosive device he had planned to use to announce the gender of his child at a family gathering later that day. The man was 28-year-old Christopher Pekny, according to the New York Times, an Upstate New York resident who had learned just before Christmas that he was expecting his first child with his girlfriend.

Pekny had been putting together a pipe-like device in his garage at the time of the explosion, though police who reported to the scene aren’t sure what kind of explosive material he was using or what set the device off prematurely. The blast also injured his younger brother Michael, who suffered a wound to his knee requiring doctors to rebuild it; he’s now in stable condition.


Their older brother, Peter, described them both as skilled mechanics who could fix and do anything.” He told the Times: “[It was] the freakiest of freak accidents that I could ever imagine.”

But sadly, tragedies like this one have only become more frequent as explosive devices in various forms—usually intended to shoot off pink or blue smoke or powder—have become a staple of gender reveal parties and other baby-related events. Earlier this month, a 26-year-old man in Michigan was killed at a baby shower when a small cannon-type device” exploded and fatally struck him with shrapnel. In 2019, an Iowa woman died from similar causes after a piece of metal from a kind of homemade pipe bomb struck her in the head.

And lest we forget, these parties have also proven to be catastrophic environmental hazards: In 2017, an off-duty Border Patrol agent set off a 47,000-acre blaze when he attempted to shoot a target that would emit a puff of blue smoke as a way of announcing that he was expecting a boy. Not having learned any lessons whatsoever from this man’s mistake, the hosts of a gender reveal party did the same this past September, when they fed raging wildfires in California with a “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device.” The fire scorched more than 20,000 acres and resulted in the death of a firefighter who was among those trying to contain it.

If you feel that you absolutely must announce your fetus’s assigned gender to the world, it seems best to avoid pyrotechnics of any sort. Luckily, the brilliant minds at Jezebel have already come up with some safe alternatives.

Night blogger at Jezebel with writing at The Baffler, The Nation, The New Republic, Vice, and more.

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Their older brother, Peter, described them both as skilled mechanics who “could fix and do anything.” He told the Times: “[It was] the freakiest of freak accidents that I could ever imagine.”

Which honestly might have made them overconfident?

I’m, not particularly handy. I can whip up a piece of IKEA furniture, and I can muddle through installing ceiling fans or even some basic maintenence type stuff.

But often times dudes who are legitimately good amateur handymen think their handyness proofs them against any sort of accident while building stuff and they think being good at mechanical work or at handyman type stuff translates well into more advanced situations, such as building homemade explosive devices. I had a friend who fits that profile who gave himself third degree burns while trying to concoct homemade napalm for fun. I feel bad because me and all my other friends were standing there giggling like idiots when he did it, but I can at least say we all told him “dude this is so dumb”.

Guys” (used as a broad term for the median male) in large groups are morons.