I hate gender reveal parties.
There. I said it.
I’m not aiming to change thoughts on these parties, because, at the end of the day, you do you, but just hear me out.
Around 2010-2011-ish, a year or two after I birthed my child, these gender reveal parties started popping up everywhere.
And I was so confused.
I mean, I saw couples go all out for these events. Fireworks, and smoke, and balloons, and surprise cake filling, all filled with the color that supposedly suggests the sex of the baby. Sometimes, like, super over the top shit goes down at these parties. This is a big deal for a whole lot of people these days. Over the past decade, this trend has grown into a full fledged expectation before birthing the child.
But. What’s the purpose?
When these parties surfaced, I wasn’t some warrior on a path to dissolve the gender construct, because it was before my kiddo came out as trans, therefore before I put much thought to gender roles, and it wasn’t because I’m a feminist who thought them to be inappropriate since they perpetuate the gender bias and ultimately the patriarchy.
I just simply thought they were silly.
Aside from feeling that they’re a bit lavish since baby showers are where we’ve historically celebrated the impending arrival, it quickly occurred to me that these parties are literally celebrating genitals.
And that’s weird.
It’s a very uncomfortable concept for a party. I don’t understand why so many people have gotten behind the hype.
As expecting parents, typically, many of us can’t wait for that 20-week big ultrasound, for the tech to exclaim “It’s a boy/girl!”. And they do that solely by looking at…genitals. So, these parties feel a lot like, “Hey, come and guess what kind of genitalia my baby has!!”. You might as well have penis or vagina shaped cookies on the table, too.
And I know some are pushing back, arguing that it’s a celebration of the gender itself, right? But is it? And if so, why?
Turns out, for me, I became the mom of a transgender son. I was one of the thousands who thought that I had birthed a gender, a girl in my case, one that would love to go shopping with me, love to braid her hair, share make-up and maybe love gymnastics or cheerleading… only to be oh so very wrong. I had the nursery painted purple, donned my child in all pink at his first birthday, complete with a tutu and headband, tried to shove him into that gender conforming box.
And he would have none of it.
As soon as he could assert his opinions and his choices, around the age of 2-4, he was all boy. For him, his gender identity didn’t match his genitals. And that does happen more than you probably realize. So, it would have been a complete waste of good pink unicorn poop shooting out of a cannon, had I celebrated that way.
Not to mention that one out of every 1500 babies are born intersex, meaning with some form of both genitalia. And this shouldn’t be shamed by celebrating some archaic form of gender roles based on what’s in a child’s pants.
But aside from that, what I’ve learned is that gender is nothing more than a social construct. If you don’t believe me, dig into history and read up on how gender roles have changed over time, how that up until the 1920’s, little boys wore dresses and kept long hair until they were between the ages of 6-8. That these pink and blue boxes that we all like to put almost everything in life into didn’t really surface until the last century. Girls like pink, and make-up, and princesses. And boys like dirt, and sports, and trucks. That’s what we’ve been groomed to believe in modern day society.
It seems narrow to celebrate these gender roles and societal norms for girls and boys. Especially since you have no idea what your child will gravitate towards and what they’re going to capable of. It might not fit into the box that you’re hoping for.
And if you’re saying “No, no, no! My child can like whatever they want! My girl can love sports and the color blue and my son can dance if he wants!”…then what on earth are we celebrating at a gender reveal party if that were true?
And here’s my final thought: Oftentimes, we hear “I don’t care what the gender is, as long as they’re healthy”, and if we mean that, why have a party to reveal the gender? What significance does it truly hold? I can’t think of anything worthy or reasonable to answer those questions.
I’m looking for answers here: what are these parties about? Please answer that for yourself if you’ve bought into them. What ideology are we perpetuating with them?
I’m all for a good, fun party, for sure, but this is one party theme that has always made me scratch my head, even before I knew my son was trans.
When I’m scrolling my feed and I see pictures or videos of pink or blue sky writings announcing the sex of babies, I have relabeled them as “Gender Best Guess Parties” in my head.
And then I imagine a rainbow of colors shooting out of that firework, or oozing out of that cupcake.
Because our kids are so much more than just pink or blue.
Let them be fluid. Let them be colorful.
Why not let them teach you if they’re pink or blue or somewhere in between?