Can Millennials Kill Gender Reveal Parties Next?
Millennials are blamed for a lot of institutions dying or becoming obsolete. Part of this is due to the fact we are all broke and overworked, and part of it is that many parts of our culture have harmed us throughout our lives. I’d like to call the grand council of Millennial together to suggest the next thing we can brutally cut out of our society: Gender Reveal Parties.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against throwing parties for families and friends to come together and pool resources to get a loved one ready to have a baby. I have nothing against silly games that involve guessing the time of birth, eye color, if the baby will be born with hair or whatever. I have nothing against tiny pastries or other cute themed snacks. I will admit I have a bit of a thing against useless gifts like wipes warmers that just collect dust and is only used once and found to be way more work than it should be, but that’s neither here nor there. My problem is that these parties are framed around discussing a baby’s genitals and the assumptions made about the baby’s life because of those genitals.
The first I’d ever heard about gender reveal parties was through a post of different cakes. Although many people get super complex when it comes to the gender reveal, most often they slice into a cake to see the color. Or at the very least they have an appropriately themed cake. By “appropriate” I mean horrifying. Maybe it’s just “special snowflakes” like me who get truly horrified by things like “pearls or guns”, “tractors or tiaras”, “will it be a cupcake or a stud muffin?” or even “We’re just here for the sex”. Those of us who have kids that are gender non-conforming have experienced first hand how young gender based bullying starts. You’ve never had your heart break until you’ve had your nephew ask for a haircut and swear off Disney princess because other kids would pick on him and refuse to believe you were a boy.
Except maybe if you’re a parent of a transgender child and have to see them go through the hardships of worrying someone would find out, fighting to use the right restroom or locker room, and dealing with the transphobia and violence our society displays. It’s 2019 people! We shouldn’t be teaching kids that there’s “girl toys” and “boy toys”. Go to the kids section of a clothing store and see the difference, not only are “girl’s clothes” all pink, they’re sized smaller than “boy’s clothes” with things like lace and bell sleeves that make them more uncomfortable and harder to move around in. We are taking strides to diversify kids clothing and toys but it’s a slow process and things like gender reveal parties just feed that.
Taking all that into account, we’ve only scratched the surface of why gender reveal parties are toxic. It’s there in the name, GENDER reveal. What is gender? It’s the feeling you have inside about whether you’re a boy, girl, both, or neither. There’s not two genders, there’s an endless supply of genders! What these parties actually reveal is what kind of genitals the doctor says they saw in the ultrasound. If you want to have a gender reveal party, wait till your kid grows up and can tell you what their gender is. If you have a gender fluid child you may have to have more than one, that’s okay. I’ve seen a few instances of a trans person’s family throwing them a gender reveal party when they came out and honestly that is hella precious. In our world though, not many parents will do that. Do you want to be the parent that nurtures their child and celebrates their differences? Or the ones whose children hide their identity or who disowns or hurts their kid when they are honest? Maybe we shouldn’t be participating in a celebration that encourages further discrimination towards trans people.
Another important reason to kill gender reveal parties without mercy, sometimes the doctor’s wrong about biology. The same amount of people born with red hair are Intersex. Intersex people are people with chromosomes, hormones, or bodies that don’t follow what have historically classified as “male” or “female” Sometimes it’s apparent at birth with their genitals, sometimes it comes up in a chromosome test, sometimes they don’t find out until puberty when it doesn’t quite happen as expected, sometimes it happens when they try to have children, some people never find out. For those born with noticeable differences at birth it’s unfortunately still common for doctors to encourage medically unnecessary and dangerous surgeries or hormonal treatments. Sometimes they won’t even tell the child. They’ll just grow up knowing something is off or they may grow up with pain or other side effects of these procedures. Even for those who don’t, doctors and parents usually assign them a sex and raise the baby as that sex. This involves all the stereotypes and gender roles being pressed upon them. Intersex and transgender kids and adults are far more likely to experience abuse than cisgender and Endosex (non intersex) folks.
What it really comes down to is that knowing what a baby’s genitals look like doesn’t tell us anything about them. Pressing certain personality traits onto children based on their genitals is unhealthy and harmful. Not acknowledging that both biology and gender is far more vast and wondrous than two boxes labeled “boy” and girl” is a form of violence. One way that we can protect our children is to use our Millennial Magics to brutally murder the institution known as gender reveal parties.