Thanks to Pinterest and ridiculously over-hyped and dangerous gender reveal parties, baby showers can be expensive and polarizing. First of all, some showers are just ridiculous. Sorry friends, but I don’t want to play a game that makes me guess what melted chocolate bar is in the “poopy” diaper. Nor will I be able to relieve my anticipation of your baby’s gender just because you cut into a blue or pink cake. Feeding into stereotypical assumptions and biases about gender and gender roles isn’t a great way to celebrate Baby. While I am all for a slideshow that breaks down the ways gender is a societal construct, I recognize that some folks would dislike that as much I loathe Baby Bingo. Instead, consider throwing a baby shower without putting Baby in a predetermined box.
Keep It Gender Neutral
Let’s start with theme. Pink is for girls and blue is for boys is cliché. Also, there are so many more colors in the rainbow. Ooooooo, rainbows…I digress. The point is that the party theme does not need to be around gender. Think woodland creatures, Harry Potter, bees, llamas, seriously rainbows people, Schitt’s Creek, fruits, vegetables, sports teams, unicorns, sloths, or books. Take a favorite hobby or activity and run with it. Part of welcoming a child into a family is to force our likes and beliefs onto them, right? And what better way to celebrate that than with a full coffee bar with cactus décor? Fine, go back to picking a couple of colors and get some cute plates and napkins, but avoid the It’s A Boy or It’s A Girl signage and their accompanying metaphors.
They, He, Or She — Can’t Wait To See!
You don’t have to, but you can satisfy the curiosity of others. People love to ask pregnant people what they are having. The assumed question is always about gender, but the truth is that a child’s gender can’t be determined until the child confirms or denies their assigned label at birth which was given based on their sexual anatomy. A penis on the ultrasound does not guarantee that a child will identify as a boy. I would much rather have people reveal the sex of their baby—for the record sex is a spectrum too—than the assumed gender. And this can be done in really fun, non-preachy ways.
Parents-to-be can quickly explain that they will give their child a name, pronouns, and gender label based on their baby’s sex, but an acknowledgement that those could change will help unravel gender-based expectations society puts on our kids before they are born. I am not suggesting we raise gender neutral children; I think it’s totally appropriate to assign a child a gender based on the information we are given. But it’s also appropriate to understand that maybe we messed up the assignment because we didn’t have all of the information.
I have seen cakes with the words “We’re Just Here For The Sex” or “He or She, Can’t Wait To See” as a way to honor both the assumed and possible genders. To be fair to the nonbinary children, I suggest correcting that last one to “They, He, or She — Can’t Wait To See.” Or if over-the-top is your thing, may I propose this idea:
If you really want to knock home the point that you care about what is between your baby’s legs, throw some candy-shaped penises or vaginas on or in the cake and call it a day. While most children will be cisgender boys or girls, I recommend revealing your kiddo’s body parts and potential gender with an open mind.
They Will Ask, Don’t Tell
While technically all clothes and toys are gender neutral because any gender can wear and play with whatever makes them happy, don’t reveal the sex of your baby before the shower. Use a gift registry, but force people to think outside of the box. If people don’t know the sex of your baby, they can’t assume a gender. If they can’t assume a gender, they are forced to check their biases while picking out an outfit or book for Baby. Folks will see that there are a lot of really cute options they may not have noticed before, and that’s the point.
The Gift Of Gender Diverse Books
No matter the assumed gender of Baby, stock the home library with books about strong and independent women, sensitive boys, transgender kids, and gender nonconforming, badass kids who are not afraid to be their authentic self. And if Aunt Karen wants to know why your “little boy” would want to read a book about a boy who loves dresses, remind her that you are raising a kid who understands that gender expression is not static.
Focus On The Expectant Parents
The baby may be the reason why people are getting together, but the focus of the party should be on the parent or parents. Whether it is a very pregnant person or a new family post-delivery, parents want to share their excitement and feel supported. If folks continue to labor the point about wanting to know more about the baby’s sex and assumed gender, redirect folks to the parent’s gender and pronouns with a reminder that the baby needs diapers, wipes, and people who are willing to see beyond labels.
Adding a baby to the family is exciting and celebrations are expected and encouraged. Finding out the sex of the baby is celebratory too. Assigning gender based on sexual anatomy when a child is born doesn’t make gender or gendered language inherently bad. The expectations for what it means to be a girl or boy need to change. The mindset that both gender and sex are fixed needs to change as well and that shift can slowly happen by breaking away from cakes that wonder if the baby will be a “Stud Muffin” or “Cup Cake.” Gross. Avoid that.
This article was originally published on