Gender reveal parties are everywhere these days, but when writer Jenna Karvunidis and her husband threw one 10 years ago to announce the gender of their baby, it was a relatively new idea.
The cake-cutting party, which revealed Karvunidis was having a girl, went viral after she blogged about it, even earning a write-up in a popular baby magazine. When gender reveal parties really blew up a few years later, Karvunidis wrote a blog post defending parents for having them.
In 2019, Karvunidis feels a little differently, all thanks to Bee, her 10-year-old daughter who wears suits and expresses herself in nonbinary ways.
On Thursday, the mom of three from Pasadena, California, wrote a Facebook post addressing her “mixed feelings” about kicking off the ubiquitous baby trend.
“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,” she wrote, adding that the trend “just exploded into crazy after that.”
“Who cares what gender the baby is?” she added. “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.”
The post ends on a sweet, surprising note: “PLOT TWIST, the world’s first gender-reveal party baby is a girl who wears suits!”
The post currently has more than 16,000 “likes” and a comment section full of support.
“Bravo to your child for being their true, authentic self, and bravo to you for finding the courage and love to support,” one woman wrote.
“As a trans person who felt trapped and confined to those between the leg bits until I was approaching 30 ― Thank. You. For. This.,” another commenter said. “Bee is a rockstar.”
Karvunidis told HuffPost she’s thrilled that the post has reached so many trans and nonbinary people. For years, she’s had complicated feelings about being an OG gender reveal party host.
“I’m glad gender reveal parties brought joy to some people, but that joy has been at the expense of nonbinary and trans people,” she said. “Even if you say a problem doesn’t affect ‘me’ personally, we should all have enough humanity to realize we don’t have to cause pain for marginalized people to have joy for ourselves.”
Karvunidis and her husband thew the gender reveal party in July 2008, mostly to celebrate the fact that she was well along in her pregnancy after experiencing multiple miscarriages.
It was a way to celebrate “finally being at the point to know the baby’s anatomy,” she said. “I never thought it would become a trend at all.”
As Karvunidis notes in her post, the parties have gotten increasingly elaborate and over-the-top through the years. In April 2017, a Border Patrol agent started a 45,000-acre wildfire in Arizona after his explosive gender-reveal party went wrong. (The dad-to-be planned to shoot at a target with powder that would burst either pink or blue. It also had Tannerite, a highly explosive but legal substance in it. Whoops.)
Now that her post has gone viral, Karvunidis wants parents to know she’s not trying to shame them for throwing gender reveal events. But she does hope her story makes people consider why the “gender” part of the equation is so important.
“There are plenty of reasons to eat cake,” she said. “You can pick one that doesn’t reinforce an attitude of harm toward members of the LGBTQ community.”