We’ve all heard of the gender reveal party. Recently, there has been more and more scrutiny towards parents for placing such an assumed and definitive label such as their assigned gender onto their kid’s, even before birth.
Many LGBTQ advocates (myself, included) will swiftly stand up and deliver their arsenal of reasons explaining why gender reveal parties can create an automatic, boxed-in, and possibly INCORRECT stereotype for your child before they have even entered the world.
Gender reveals are a thing of the past
Gender reveals might have been a big thing before, but if you ask anyone with a trans child, a gender-fluid child or even just a parent who doesn’t want to force gender norms onto their children before they have had a chance to learn anything about their personality yet, gender reveals should remain a thing of the past.
And we aren’t alone. Jenna Karvunidis, owner and author of the blog High Gloss and Sauce, knows a thing or two about gender reveal parties.
That’s because Jenna is the mom who started this fad with her own celebratory reveal during her first pregnancy. But Jenna isn’t letting her recognition and “fame” for being the OG gender revealer define her. She’s not even necessarily supporting it, at least not anymore.
Yesterday, in a post that quickly went viral on her blog’s Facebook page, Jenna announced a shocking turn of events from the very thing that put her on the map.
“A weird thing came up on Twitter, so I figured I’d share here. Someone remembered it was me who “invented” the gender reveal party. I had written about my party on my blog and a parenting forum in July 2008. It was picked up & and an interview with me was published in The Bump magazine and the idea kinda spread from there. I’ve got the article framed!
Anyway, I’ve felt a lot of mixed feelings about my random contribution to the culture. It just exploded into crazy after that. Literally – guns firing, forest fires, more emphasis on gender than has ever been necessary for a baby.
Who cares what gender the baby is? I did at the time because we didn’t live in 2019 and didn’t know what we know now – that assigning focus on gender at birth leaves out so much of their potential and talents that have nothing to do with what’s between their legs.
PLOT TWIST, the world’s first gender-reveal party baby is a girl who wears suits!”
One might expect her to exude confidence in her unique idea and promote gender reveal parties with pride. But she doesn’t.
Jenna shared with us the reason for her shift between how she viewed the gender reveal party years ago to how she feels about them now.
“Ironically, I didn’t give much thought to all that gender implies at my personal party. I had had several miscarriages and was just excited to finally be at a point in pregnancy to know the gender, more as a milestone for me. It was more about this baby being “real” than assigning her a role for the rest of her life.”
When we assign our child’s gender before they are even born we are putting ourselves in a mindset of “what to expect.”
We’ve placed them into a mold that we aren’t even sure they will fit into just yet because we haven’t even MET them.
Even the most liberal, open-minded and progressive parents may have the best intentions of allowing our children to express themselves free of “norms,” but the truth is, we have an expectation and with expectations come responsibility.
Jenna explained that she felt the time was here for her to speak up about her stance on this. And she explains why:
“From the aforementioned women’s rights issue to the grace that should be afforded to people to make their own decisions about who they are. Marginalized groups such as the LGBTQ already face obstacles, from discrimination to safety issues in the community. The least their families can do is provide open arms from day one that they are a person first, gender last and many things in between.”
As a parent of a trans child, I appreciate this perspective on so many levels because the reality is, so many people just don’t see how this type of party can be limiting and almost damaging until they’ve experienced this first-hand.
I think of my trans child’s baby book, his “leaving the hospital” photos, and first newborn shoot all adorned in bows and ribbons, soft pinks and pale purples… and these photos remind him of something painful.
My child sees old photos of his life before he started living as his true self and he feels like he’s looking at someone else. Someone who was living a lie. Someone who wasn’t authentic and more importantly, someone who wasn’t happy.
I asked Jenna if something, in particular, prompted her to speak up now and she shared:
“The experience of raising three girls who are all so different has made me realize how silly this weighing of gender is. People always ask me if I’m going to have another baby to “go for a boy” and I explain my children are all so different, why would I need a boy to add to the diversity? We’re already diverse in this house due to the kids all being different people with varying interests and talents.”
Jenna isn’t judging parents for continuing to host reveal parties and celebrate their precious babies.
“I can’t tell people not to celebrate….I’d just like to remind new parents that there will be 1,000 details about that person that will ultimately be more important than gender. If your child likes music, is good math, loves animals, takes to water, hates noise, will try new foods, makes friends or can handle stress – these will affect your life so much more than whatever bit in between their legs.”
One piece of Jenna’s popular post from yesterday is her “plot twist” announcing that the baby girl that put gender reveals on the map likes to dress in suits over dresses.
She even has her own Instagram to show her daughter’s budding personality.
“She’s 10! Who knows who she’ll be or what she’ll want when she’s older. As for now, she loves acting, comics, has great taste in music and we’re a bit excited about her budding goth phase. We just painted her bedroom black! I support all my kids in whatever floats their boats, as long as they are safe and loved, of course.”