Gender reveal party
A gender-reveal party is an event or celebration had during pregnancy. The primary goal of this event is the eponymous "reveal" of the baby's sex to the expectant parents, family, and friends. Twentieth century medical advancement in early, reliable prenatal sex discernment has allowed the requisite information that underlies these events to develop. Originating in the United States in the late 2000s, gender reveal parties are common only in the English-speaking world.
It is distinct from, but sometimes combined with, a baby shower, whose primary activity is gifting expecting parents with important supplies and items for their future infant's care and well-being. A large variety of methods are utilized, often involving gender stereotypes such as pink and blue.
The practice is controversial and has been criticized by some for reinforcing gender stereotypes. The implied binary gender essentialism of the practice has resulted in LGBT+ community criticisms, particularly from the transgender and intersex communities.
History and development
A modern creation, the gender reveal party's modern incarnation began in the late 2000s. One of the earliest notable examples was found in the 2008 posts of then-pregnant Jenna Karvunidis on her ChicagoNow blog High Gloss and Sauce announcing the sex of her fetus via cake. YouTube videos of the practice can be found as early as 2008 and 2009, becoming socially significant around 2011, after which the trend continued to grow through the 2010s.
In 2019, Karvunidis later expressed regret at having helped start the gender reveal party trend, seeing how far some had taken the trend LGBT and intersex communities feel, and finally revealing the daughter they announced back in 2008 to be a gender-nonconforming individual who wears suits while still identifying as female., learning how the
Comparison to baby showers
Baby showers, a traditional prenatal celebration, have some key differences with gender-reveal parties. Primarily, the focus on gender-reveal parties is fetal sex, while baby showers focus on the gifting of supplies and items for the future infant to the expectant parent(s). Traditionally, baby showers are for women only, while gender-reveal parties have no inherently-associated gender restriction and attendee limitations (if any) are determined by the pregnant individual or couple. Some couples choose to integrate both events into one for simplicity, efficiency, or economic reasons.
Spread and mediatization
The spread of the gender-reveal party trend can be attributed to social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest, despite the trend originating before the latter two existed. This mediatization has significantly boosted the likelihood of expectant parent(s) to have or take part in gender-reveal parties. Internet remix culture lends the practice great receptivity toward individual creativity, a factor in their growing popularity. Demographic research shows the most gender-reveal parties are done by expecting parents that are middle-class, heterosexual White Americans who are married or partnered.
Planning the event
The focus of gender-reveal parties being the fetal sex, such information is a prerequisite. This can be determined at or after the gestational age required by the method being used. For ultrasound, the most common method, the earliest this can be reliably done is approximately 65 days, but it is typically done at around 20 weeks[i]. Both the fetal sex and party are typically held during the second trimester.
Post-examination knowledge of the fetal sex by the parents varies. Most commonly, a third party (sometimes called a "gender guardian") is entrusted with the fetal sex and it remains a secret from the parents until the reveal. This person is responsible for making party arrangements to ensure the reveal happens without the prior knowledge of the parents. However sometimes, it is known by the parents prior and the reveal to specifically for attendees.
During the event
While the focus remains on the fetal sex, the reveal is typically the climax of the party. Prior to the reveal, party games are common where attendees or expecting parent(s) guess or assert the fetal sex. This can also take the form of competition between a "Team Pink" and "Team Blue" of which parent(s) or participants may form.
Most reveal methods utilize gender-associated colors, most typically blue and pink representing male and female respectively, decorated with other gender-associated items. The method of reveal varies; common methods involve cutting special cakes, launching or popping balloons, confetti/streamers, piñatas, colored smoke, and Silly String. Other seasonally-related items such as Easter eggs, Jack-o'-lanterns, Christmas presents, or Fourth of July or New Year's fireworks may also be incorporated depending on time of pregnancy. 
Once these colors are revealed, both the expecting parent(s) and onlookers are made aware of the fetus's sex, typically to great celebration and comment by attendees. The announcement of a predetermined, sex-dependent baby name can also take place.
The sex and gender distinction underlies many criticisms of gender-reveal parties. The term "gender-reveal" is considered a misnomer by those who acknowledge the distinction. Gender is a social construct in this view, not attached to any biological characteristics, with an individual gender identity impossible to determine medically. Thus, when a reveal of a fetus's genitals is made, it is the sex and not the gender, that is being revealed according to this view.
Furthermore, gender-reveal parties rely heavily on the male-female gender binary, which assumes the child will not be biologically intersex, which occurs in an estimated 1 in 4500–5500 births. Gender-reveal parties reinforce sex and gender assignment and gender essentialism, precluding and minimizing transgender identification, which can cause issues with mental and emotional health. Some parents have rejected gender-reveal events because of a greater awareness of gender identity.
Overall the practice heavily reinforces stereotypical gender roles, often utilizing polarizing gender dichotomies in party materials such as "Guns or Glitter", "Pistols or Pearls", or "Wheels or Heels". Critics say that there is no reason to assume that a child would fit neatly into the essentialist dichotomy even where the sex is accurately determined and assigned gender remain the same.
In 2019, Jenna Karvunidis, considered one of the pioneers of gender reveal parties, called for re-evaluation of the practice due to how it might affect transgender and non-binary individuals, also revealing her own daughter's gender nonconformity. After the El Dorado Fire, Karvunidis decried the parties and pleaded for people to stop having them.
Incidents and injuries
Some instances of attempted spectacular special effects at gender-reveals have caused injury, death, and even large-scale damage.
"Gender reveal burnouts", in which cars emit billowing clouds of pink or blue smoke, are a fad that became popular in Australia around 2018. The Queensland Police Service warns that this practice is dangerous, and that there have been a number of attempted "burnouts" that resulted in flaming vehicles and arrests.
In September 2019, there was a plane crash in Turkey, Texas when a low-flying crop duster was attempting to drop 350 gallons of colored water for a reveal. The pilot was not injured and the passenger received minor injuries.
In September 2020, a gender-reveal pyrotechnic device started the El Dorado Fire near Yucaipa, California, destroying homes, prompting evacuations, burning thousands of acres, and causing the death of one firefighter.
Parties for transgender people
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- Measured from the onset of pregnancy-induced amenorrhea
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