Today, many young people are exploring their identities, speaking up about gender, and redefining traditional roles. They're ready to express themselves and talk about gender fluidity—whether they are transgender, non-binary, or have a shifting, gender-fluid identity.
Even though gender reveal parties are a pretty new phenomenon, they're starting to feel very dated and even a little bit uncomfortable in today's inclusive culture. Even one of the first women to popularize the practice is no longer on board.
In 2008, Jenna Karvunidis celebrated the upcoming birth of her first daughter, Bee, with a pink icing-filled cake and the "gender reveal" party went viral. Today, her views have changed. She now feels that assigning gender at birth limits children's potential and puts them into a very defined box that can be harmful.
So where does that leave gender reveal parties? Will parents continue to buy bunches of pink or blue balloons and enforce traditional gender roles from day one? Or will the practice naturally fade away in favor of more inclusive celebrations? Here's what we know.
Are Gender Reveal Parties a Remnant of the Past?
Despite hate crimes, bullying, and stories of discrimination making headlines on the regular, the world is becoming much more inclusive as a whole. Classrooms and workplaces around the world are beginning to embrace diversity and encourage people of all identities to express themselves and succeed. While the LGBTQ+ community still faces many challenges, attitudes are shifting and more people are recognizing that we now live in a gender-fluid society.
With that in mind, are gender reveal parties a remnant of the past? It's only been a little over ten years since these parties started to become a trend, but they're already feeling out of place in our more inclusive world.
Opinions From the Mainstream
People are starting to speak up about how uncomfortable gender reveal parties have become—not only in a gender-fluid society but from a feminist point of view as well. Marie Claire writer Diane Stopyra argues that in an era of dismantling archaic patriarchal systems, gender reveal parties take us backwards from the progress we've made, harming both the mothers and babies of our modern world.
Because they want to be supportive Stopyra says, even many vocal feminists will swallow their criticisms of gender-normative rituals when it comes to friends' decisions to host gender reveal parties. However, gender-specific celebrations have the potential to isolate those children who end up falling outside the gender binary, or intersex and transgender children.
What's Best for Baby?
Parents already have a lot to think about when it comes to raising their children. Deciding what's best for baby isn't always easy. Is adding the pressure of a gender reveal party a good idea in a world where parents already have to contend with physical, emotional, and financial challenges?
It's important to remember that a gender reveal party isn't just a fun excuse for parents to order a pink cake. Celebrating binary gender before birth can have unintended consequences on children who don't fit into the traditional male or female roles. Anxiety about gender can lead to mental health problems.
Now that parents post photos of their baby showers and parties for the world to see, will children whose parents' threw a gender reveal party feel uncomfortable about the celebration when they're old enough to discuss gender with their parents? Will they feel pressure to behave a certain way because of their parents' unspoken expectations?
Honestly, a pink or blue party doesn't seem worth the risk.
The Effect of Gender Reveal Parties on the LGBTQ+ Community
Safety and acceptance are two things everyone should be able to expect. For the LGBTQ+ community, however, they can be difficult to come by. Transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) youth are often harassed or bullied and have much higher suicide rates than the population as a whole.
While gender reveal parties don't directly contribute to the hostile changes in legislation occurring across the nation, which sanction discrimination against the TGNC community, they are part of the problem and reinforce the idea that the only "acceptable" identities are traditionally male and female. This has larger implications for our culture and inclusion that can make members of the LGBTQ+ community feel unsafe.
It's important to have conversations about these issues early in a child's life, regardless of their own sense of identity. Inclusion and acceptance are key for ensuring that every child grows up happy, healthy, and secure about their place in the world. In the end, gender reveal parties simply don't support that goal.