The gingerbread person has become ammunition for conservatives to attack the LGBTQIAP+ community. It needs to stop.
If you've been on the internet for at least a year now (which, duh, you have), you probably remember a viral story about a genderneutral gingerbread "person." This year, it's trending again. Allegedly due to the current political climate and upon receiving criticism from some gender activists, grocery stores across the world decided to change their gingerbread men to gingerbread "people." Some, of course, introduced the product simply as a joke. While some have praised the move, others—gender activists included—have argued that this is mostly a non-issue. But the bigger problem rests with how we report the story. There is no doubt that some brands make the change in order to receive free advertising; after all, all press is good press. But when it comes to issues about gender identity, not only does the story about the gingerbread person trivialize the challenges people outside the gender binary confront, but it also creates a battleground where conservative folks have free reign to negate the experiences of non-binary folk. Women, too, are often left at the forefront of this particular "gender war" — they're usually held responsible for "PC culture going too far."
Therefore, it's really no surprise that the gingerbread person goes viral every year. While those who support the traditional, "there are only two genders" argument take to social media platforms to vehemently protect their stance, liberals are expected to stand by the gingerbread person and safeguard its existence against them. Moreover, there's always the shock factor value of it all. The generic kneejerk reaction to this kind of news plagues news channels and clickbait online tabloids alike. "How dare they change our traditions? The social justice warriors have taken things too far!" You get the gist.
As trans YouTuber Kat Blaque rightly pointed out on Twitter, "This is the same story they post every year to get conservatives to attack non-binary folks." And this is undoubtedly true. When the LGBTQIAP+ community and feminist movements strive towards achieving equality in various aspects of public and personal life, this story unfairly shifts the focus to a petty non-issue conservatives can harp on. Ultimately, we force those who actually are non-binary to reexperience trauma and confront harassment online when they shouldn't have to. We also tell them that their experiences are boiled down to, well, a baked good that's mostly introduced to a bakery's offerings just "for the lols" anyway.
It's obvious that the gingerbread person isn't really what we need right now. We need anti-harassment policies. Equal wages and employment opportunities. Accepting communities and inclusive media. While the rest of focus on the work that needs to get done, we're letting the fringe story that only widens the dichotomy between liberals and conservatives gain far more air time than it deserves. Instead, let's recognize the gingerbread person for what it is: divisive clickbait. It's not the move that will bring us all together. It's only ammunition for all the sad people who want to push us even further apart.