Honeys! Darlings! Sweet baby angels! How I’ve missed you all. Sort of, anyway. As much as you can miss anyone when spending your days scoffing lobster pasta and lying bikini-clad on the front of a boat. My holiday was delightful, thanks for asking. Two weeks absolutely flew by, but have left me feeling light, happy and motivated. A fucking Christmas miracle considering how much I ate.
So today I want to hover over the subject of of gender reveals. Having returned from my holiday to the gorgeous news that one of my best friends has a bun in the oven, the conversation quickly turned to appropriate celebrations; baby showers, the wetting of the baby’s head and, unsurprisingly, gender reveals. Particularly in America and splashed all over your Sunday afternoon Instagram feed, they seem to be gathering a lot of popularity and just about everyone seems to be cutting into cakes or popping balloons to uncover their unborn child’s gender.
Here are where my issues lie – by making a song and dance about your kid being a boy or a girl, you are both conforming to gender norms (the reveal is almost always pink or blue) and assigning someone a gender. Someone that you haven’t even met yet. Someone that doesn’t yet know how and who they identify as. I urge you to remember that gender is not the same as biological sex, and should be approached as a fluid concept, therefore allowing people to freely decide how and who to identify as without pressure or the inevitable surrounding stigma. When parents plan elaborate parties to reveal the “gender” of their baby, they are actually just presenting information passed on to them from medical professionals; the sex of the baby, which refers to which set of genitalia said baby is most likely to be born with. Now, based on the chemistry in their brain, a baby can’t tell us what they are, so it should go without saying that a foetus can’t, either.
And, sure, your baby may well be cisgender (the alignment of biology and identity), but what if they aren’t? What if you’ve forced gender norms and inappropriate pronouns on them from before they were born, leaving them uncomfortable and making it even more difficult for them to openly identify as their true self? Surely you wouldn’t wish that torture and awkwardness on your child.
Gender reveals are just another way of celebrating ‘the binary’, which is the belief that there are only two genders: male and female. This simultaneously ignores both non-binary or gender fluid people and, given that there is every chance of your offspring someday identifying as both binary genders or neither, should be something thought twice over. As aforementioned, gender reveal parties also highlight the heteronormative stereotypes of what it means to be a girl or boy. These parties celebrate vaginas with pink and frilly things, barbies and fairies and delicate flowers and the colour blue, action men and monster trucks for their penis-yielding counterparts. Regardless of decoration, it is always made very apparent the ‘gender’ you are conforming with. And, boys and men can’t be feminine or like the colour pink, right?! Helloooooo internalized homophobia.
As a society, we’re making so many great strides towards gender quality, opening our minds to new possibilities and learning. Don’t fuck that up by determining something for someone else, without their consent.
I can’t tell you what to do, I’m not the party police. So just use this as some food for thought and something to consider the next time you or your friends suggest hosting a gender reveal.