All of a sudden, “gender reveal parties” are all the rage. I read about them everywhere, but at first didn’t know what they were: I thought that they were affairs in which adults who had changed gender, or realized their gender, revealed this to their friends and family. But noooo, here’s what they are, as characterized by Wikipedia:
A gender reveal party is a celebration where either the guests, the expecting parents, or both find out the sex of the baby. This has become possible with the increasing accuracy of various technologies of prenatal sex discernment. For example, less than half way through the normal pregnancy, an ultrasound technician can visually determine the sex. If the parents decide they want to have a gender reveal party they will notify the technician before hand so they won’t tell them during the appointment if they want to be surprised. There is also an early sex blood work exam that can be done as early as 7 weeks with 95 percent accuracy. Gender reveal parties will typically be held midterm so that the first trimester is surpassed and the chances of Miscarriage are low.
Nota bene: it is sex that is revealed.
Parents magazine even has a how-to guide on how to throw such parties (hints: no pink or blue themes before the reveal), and the Wall Street Journal, predictably, has decried the excesses of such parties.
But my point is not whether such parties are good or bad. It’s that they are completely misnamed. We all know—though three evolution societies apparently do not—that there’s a difference between sex and gender. Sex is a biological feature, based on sex-chromosome constitution (in humans, XX vs XY) and accompanied by characteristic traits such as genitalia, testes, and ovaries. It’s almost completely binary, with very few intermediate or undiagnosable cases (I’m talking to you, evolution societies).
In contrast, gender is, as they say, a “social construct”, and corresponds to a person’s sex “role” or self-identification. Thus, a biological male can be a self-identified female in gender, someone can identify with both genders, often using the pronoun “they”, or there can be people who assume genders that don’t involve either male, female, or a mixture. As I’ve repeatedly said, while biological sex is a binary, gender, while also fitting a bimodal distribution (most people identify as either male or female) is a bit less of a binary, since there are more self-identified intermediates. And there’s no reason not to respect people’s self-identification.
But let us have no nonsense about “gender reveal” parties. It is not the fetus’s gender that is revealed, but its sex. The parties are revelation of one prong of a binary: male or female. No hermaphrodites are revealed, nor any “genderqueers”, “neutrals”, “pangenders”, or any of the other 58 genders listed here.
Gender is a role or an identity that you adopt after you’re born, usually well after. It can’t be revealed before birth.
And so the parties should be called “sex reveal parties.” QED
Why do they use the “gender reveal” term? I have two theories, both of which which are mine:
1.) “Sex reveal parties” sound too much like parties in which people flash their genitalia.
2.) “Gender” is a more woke and trendy-sounding term than “sex”. Naming a party with “gender” shows that you’re cool. That, however, leads to the misnomer identified above.
If you’re gonna have one of these parties, for Ceiling Cat’s sake get it biologically correct!