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Gender-Reveal Gone Wrong Causes Massive, Destructive Wildfire

Burning down a forest is a good reason to get rid of this whole "gender-reveal" thing once and for all. The practice's insensitivity to trans and non-binary people is an even better one.

Sage Cannady | October 3, 2018

As recognition of transgender and nonbinary people continues to increase, somehow gender-reveal parties have become a popular phenomenon in American culture. Recently, one of these parties started an eight million-dollar wildfire in Arizona.

Dennis Dickey was the person responsible for this stranger-than-fiction headline as he fired a high-velocity firearm at an explosive chemical, Tannerite. Tannerite targets, which according to their website, are “the shot indicator targets of choice for hunters, law enforcement, and U.S. armed services,” have somehow become a leading purveyor of gender-reveal packages.

At a price of $84.95 through their website, Tannerite’s “Gender-Reveal BOOM BOX” has become a big seller for the company, which normally sells hunting-related products. Just like the rest of their products, you need a firearm to use it.

Gender-reveal parties complete with big production numbers, have been spewed all over social media in recent months as cisgender couples are seemingly more obsessed than ever over the gender of their infants. A typical video depicts a mom cutting open a cake to reveal pink batter. She starts jumping up and down, crying, and hugging her male partner.

This kind of thing is an emotional sight for transgender people too, but for completely different reasons. According to the Williams Institute in 2016, 0.6% of the population is transgender. A 2016 New York Times article stated that 1.4 million adults in the US identify as transgender — which doubled the previous estimates. This means over a million gender reveals, some of which may have been celebrated with big parties, eventually became irrelevant.

For babies who grow up to reveal themselves as transgender people, these gender-reveal parties are celebrations of trauma. At a time when transgender rights are moving tentatively forward despite a difficult social and political climate, these issues should not be ignored. Instead of celebrating birth assignments and binary gender roles, potential new parents should work towards more gender-neutral practices, such as skipping the color-coded baby clothes, or going old-school and preparing multiple names in case a child’s gender turns out to be different than you expected it to be.

And you should certainly stop shooting at boxes of pink and blue powder.

When Dennis Dickey, a US Border Patrol agent, took his fateful shot, it touched off a fire in the woods around Tuscon, AZ. He coordinated with police and fire departments as best he could, but the fire spread quickly, causing $8 million in damage before over 800 firefighters could put it out… two weeks later.

Dickey pled guilty to charges of causing a fire without a permit, a misdemeanor. He also agreed to pay restitution for the full amount of damages the fire caused — though he at least was able to work out a payment plan. All this over a gender-reveal package he thought would cost him $84.95. As gender-reveal fails go, this one was a doozy.

Top image via Poofthereitis.com