Jenna Karvunidis, the mother who inadvertently began the craze for gender reveal parties, revealed she regrets creating a “monster” while pledging her unequivocal support for her gender non-conforming daughter.
Karvunidis, who lives in the US, threw the first-ever “gender reveal” party in 2008, for her eldest daughter, Bianca.
But she told The Guardian that she never meant to start a trend, or to create an entire identity for her child before she was even born.
“I was just looking for a way to up the ante and get everyone excited and involved,” she said.
“And I have a flair for theatrics and love to throw parties – we had a party for the goldfish once.”
A year or so later, Karvunidis began seeing people she didn’t know copying her idea of using coloured icing on a cake to suggest a baby’s gender.
“It was really weird to me,” she said. “I kept thinking maybe someone did one before me but NPR did this whole exhaustive thing and got to the bottom of it.”
While she thinks that gender reveal parties would become a trend whether she’d thrown one or not, she no longer supports the concept.
“Now I think the whole thing is not great at all, though,” Karvunidis continued.
“The problem is they overemphasise one aspect of a person. I had two more kids after Bianca, but I never had another gender reveal party.”
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It was Karvunidis’ second “pretty girly” daughter, she said, who really changed her thinking about gender.
“On Christmas morning when she was three, she opened up a set of Legos in primary colours and started crying,” Karvunidis explained.
“She said: ‘Santa Claus brought me a boy toy.’ She thought because they weren’t pink they weren’t for her.
“That’s when I was like: ‘You know what? Something has to change.’
“There’s such an obsession with gender that it becomes limiting in many ways and exploitative in others.
“You don’t want what’s between your legs to guide your path in life.
“I want my kids to grow up in a world where gender doesn’t matter.”
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A photo of her eldest daughter, Bianca, wearing a suit went viral in 2018.
“Bianca rocks her suits,” Karvunidis said.
“She is the most confident 11-year-old you’ll ever meet. The way that started is that it was time to get dressed up for our family Christmas pictures a few years ago and Bianca had been saying for a while that she didn’t want to wear dresses.
“I was like: ‘That’s fine. What do you think about a suit?’ We both looked at each other and she said: ‘Can girls wear suits?’ I said: ‘Absolutely. Let’s get you one.’ That’s the photo that ended up going viral.”
With her eldest daughter wearing suits supported by her family, Karvunidis said she gets a lot of emails “from transgender or non-binary teenagers who see themselves in Bianca. And they see her family supporting her”.
“I know how it feels to be a teenager who’s not loved or accepted,” she said. “Whatever flavour we get, we’re happy with.
“Bianca’s pronouns are she/her, but you might be surprised how many girls might wind up in suits if they were allowed to do whatever the hell they wanted.”