Just when you think people get it…

This baby shower has brought nothing but grief and drama so far. K and I are both ready to tell everyone to forget about it.

In the middle of the night, when I was up for my regularly scheduled second dose of sleeping meds, I noticed that K’s Aunt K, the one who generously offered to host the baby shower, had sent an email in reply to K sending the names and addresses for our guest list. I was immediately annoyed when I read her email, which partly read:

I do recognize that you are a non traditional couple, however I envisioned a fun girls only afternoon shower rather than a couples party.  Please revise the list and we’ll keep planning a wonderfully exciting event 🙂

… crickets…

Can someone please explain to me how it’s even possible to have a “girls only” shower when the pregnant person doesn’t identify as a girl?! This aunt really should know better and I think that’s what upset me the most about her reaction.

Sometimes, when I’ve been thoroughly disturbed by something in the middle of the night, I wake K to process it, but with this situation, I knew he would be too stressed to go back to sleep if I did. I also knew that he would err on the side of accommodating his aunt, even if it meant that he felt awkward or made to feel invisible, and I didn’t even want that to be an option. Plus, I was feeling super mama-bear about the whole thing and really wanted to protect K as best I could.

Had any other in-law sent an email with this sentiment, I think I’d feel uncomfortable replying, but like I said, I hold this aunt to a higher standard and trust her to hear what I have to say on the matter. I took a deep breath and wrote as diplomatic and gracious of a reply as I could muster. Among some obligatory niceties, I said:

I think one of the challenges about a girls only shower is that we’d feel awkward about K being the only one there who, while pregnant, doesn’t identify as a girl. We tried to strike a balance with the guest list by inviting mostly female family members and a more diverse range of friends. I hope it’s ok with you if we have some of these folks there, too.
We sure appreciate you throwing this shower! It is such a sweet and thoughtful thing to do, and makes us feel so loved!
Love you bunches,
C

K didn’t read the email exchange until the morning. He was, understandably, pretty disturbed and hurt by it. His immediate response to me was to say, “But don’t you think that, as the host of the party, she has the right to say who she wants there?” This was exactly the sort of selfless reaction I had hoped to avoid by setting wheels in motion when I replied before he could react. I said, “Of course she gets a say, but we also get to politely tell her if something makes us feel uncomfortable, which is why I responded how I did.”

As of this writing, Aunt K hasn’t yet replied, but K and I have discussed a few options if his aunt decides she wants a gender exclusive party.

Why do family matters have to be so damn sticky?!

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31 thoughts on “Just when you think people get it…

  1. There is absolutely no way in the world that a “girls only” shower makes any sense whatsoever. How is K (or you for that matter) going to enjoy a “fun girls only afternoon”? (have you or K clarified for your aunt explicitly that K is becoming a father? I.e. this is not him “going back”? I’m wondering if there might be a bigger disconnect here that goes beyond the guest list).

    • I think what you’ve mentioned is exactly the source of our confusion related to her response. K had lunch with this aunt to announce the pregnancy and had a long, deep conversation about what this means, identity, etc.

      I’m trying to chalk this up as a momentary lapse in judgment (albeit a fairly hurtful one).

  2. Oy! Look, I understand that gender identity/expression, transitioning and male pregnancy are hard, confusing and at times uncomfortable for the “conformists” in our lives – but seriously, you gave her a guest list of the people YOU want to be there. Irrespective of the gender policing, she should have revised her vision once she saw the guest list and not asked YOU to eliminate people.

  3. Oh wow. I think you handled it very gracefully. I had the worst time with wedding showers and family drama that I already put out that there will be no baby showers which of course has caused drama as well. In the end, a close friend is going to host a BBQ that people will just happen to bring gifts to – which I found to be a good compromise. The last thing that you and K need is the added stress of dealing with all of this. In the end even though she is the one hosting the shower, this is for y’all and your baby so it shouldn’t make either one of you uncomfortable. I really hope that she responds with more understanding!

  4. I totally understand the mamma bear reaction. I always want to jump in front of the bus to protect Tyler from people’s stupidity.
    I am going to give K’s aunt the benefit of the doubt on this one, and just say she had a dumb moment. What I’m imagining is that in her mind, a baby shower never included people’s husbands. It was to look a certain way, have dainty food, and all the women get together to talk about BIRTH and PREGNANCY and all the stuff “guys don’t give a damn about.” Sounds like she still wanted that to happen, even though K is, a guy.
    What she needs to realize (and hopefully your e-mail helped with that), is that this is K and your baby, not hers. And although she is offering to throw the shower, you usually ASK the parent to be “who do you want to be invited?” The person throwing the shower never dictates the guest list! And the shower needs to fit YOU, not fit her. Hopefully she’ll understand your response, which I thought was very well written!

  5. Ugh, how frustrating and hurtful. For what it’s worth, we had plenty of men at our shower and we are a lesbian couple. I don’t even really understand the “girls only” thing regardless of who the couple is. You gave your guest list, and she should have respected it. The shower is for the two of you, not for her. Of course there is an added layer here that stings. I sincerely hope she comes back with an apology and cheerfully agrees to host the shower that you both envision. By the way, your response was perfect – sweet and respectful while still firm. You are already showing your strong Mama skills 🙂

  6. I think Aunt K’s email was incredibly ignorant – excuse my harsh language here. You guys, as she said, are unconventional, not a bad thing at all!, so why would you want to have and why would it be appropriate to have a conventional girls only shower. Yes she is hosting, so yes she gets a say, but this shower is for you guys not her.

  7. What a drag. I’m sorry you are dealing with that. But it’s not that you are non-traditional–it’s that the world has changed and probably about half of baby showers these days probably are “co-ed.” A women’s only gathering sends such a bad message that baby care has nothing to do with men. I think I’ve only been to one women’s-only baby shower in the last 10 years, though of course, I’ve only been to a handful. Why do people think “girls only” is necessary extra mega fun? I mean, unless it’s a sex party 🙂 After all, it’s a baby shower, not a bachelorette party.

    But seriously, props to you for the very kind note back to auntie. Hopefully she’ll come around to your way of thinking without much more drama.

    • Hahahaha! What’s extra bizarre is that she’s already indicated that she isn’t going to do any games, which is something cliche that I always attribute to those “women’s only” showers. It left me wondering if we were going to get out the speculums and look at our cervixes, or some other activity she’d deem appropriately “girly.”

      It’s also gross to me that she’s expecting us to essentially invite approximately half of our friends, as if to say that, say, a woman-identified friend has more value to us than someone of another gender. Obviously, that’s bullshit to us.

    • Hehe, love this response! If you don’t get the reply you want from the aunt then perhaps you could go through the list of possible reasons for a girls only party 😉
      Seriously though, I agree with all the others who are saying, it’s your baby shower! You should get to decide in the guest list! It is indeed very old fashioned to expect only women there. Unbelievably so given your own family make up.
      Stick to your guns. There’s no way you two should have to miss out on having your friends there just to satisfy her.
      I guess part of the bummer for you is the worry that if you thought she was the coolest about it, what’s to come from the rest of the family who aren’t so understanding? Good luck.

  8. Yikes! How frustrating that this event, which is meant to be a way to show support, is instead causing you added stress and sleeplessness. It sounds like your response was great–thoughtful and kind, but also firm.

  9. I personally think the co-ed baby showers I’ve been to were much more fun then the “girls only” ones! Hopefully you’ll strike a compromise… or just have a second shower with all the people who you really want to come.

    • We’re so lucky to have friends – chosen family, really – who have been phenomenal in their support and have reiterated that they’d be thrilled to host a more fun shower if we’re not able to have the shower we’d envisioned with K’s aunt.

  10. I’m actually very surprised that the aunt of a pregnant transgender man wouldn’t think it was a MUST to have some men at the shower. And your reply/email was plenty nice, in my opinion (nicer than my reply would’ve been).

  11. I LOVE your response! Even as a traditional couple, I wanted a co ed baby shower. All of the older ladies thought that was the craziest stupidest request ever. I still have no clue why. They didn’t even think John should be there! UM YEA he is going to be there because he needs to see what thoughtful things we are getting and say thank you as well! Plus, I needed help to process everything and just a right hand man in general! I don’t know why, but I think it’s a generational thing that our mom’s age group has this idea of what a baby shower should be like- all women. It’s 2013, ladies, co-ed is in!!! No matter the dynamic of the relationship, I think it’s a normal thing to do now! I just told our women that Johns friends wanted to be there too and be supportive to him, and that he would have more fun if they were there. Luckily the main planner of my shower was my cousin who is only a couple years older than me, so she was there to reinforce my thoughts on the co-ed shower.

  12. Dude, no. She may be the host, but that doesn’t mean she gets to ride roughshod over you! Particularly with the gender considerations. Your reply was lovely as it was non-confrontational and warm, and let’s hope she responds as such.

  13. Pingback: An update on the shower drama | The Falco Project

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