Gender Ordeal

The accidental creator of “gender reveal” parties deeply regrets her decision

The gender reveal party—the practice of throwing a fête to announce the presumed sex of your unborn child—is a fairly recent, if enduringly controversial practice. Started innocently in 2008 by blogger Jenna Karvunidis, the trend has now spawned endless extravagant variations and several deaths.

But Karvunidis is not to blame—in fact, she regrets what she started by cutting into a pink cake in 2008 and kicking off the controversial practice.

In a 2020 article for The Guardian, Karvunidis wrote that she was “just looking for a way to up the ante and get everyone excited and involved.” Before becoming pregnant with their first child in 2008, Karvunidis and her husband had experienced a series of painful miscarriages. The idea for the party developed after the couple’s pregnancy reached the point of being able to tell the sex, something that had been out of reach previously. Now, Karvunidis is the proud parent of three kids, and she isn’t concerned with policing their gender at all.

Still, a part of her feels responsible for starting the trend that now exists mainly to start wildfires, kill pilots, and give anti-trans bigots a chance to celebrate something that has almost zero bearing on who their child will grow up to become as an adult. “When I first saw that a gender-reveal party had caused a forest fire I cried because I felt responsible,” Karvunidis wrote in the Guardian article. “But here’s the thing – when planes crash no one goes after the Wright brothers. I think the parties probably would have happened anyway. I put form to it, but it’s not that crazy of an idea.”

Absolutely right: just because she started the trend—for totally normal and sweet reasons—doesn’t mean she’s at all responsible for the havoc such parties have caused in the past few years.

In fact, Karvunidis has taken the time to expand her ideas about gender and childhood, something more cis straight parents should be doing. “You don’t want what’s between your legs to guide your path in life,” she writes. “I want my kids to grow up in a world where gender doesn’t matter.”

We’re still working toward that world, one gender-neutral baby shower at a time.

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