Gender-neutral parenting is going mainstream.

By Sam Reed
Updated Jan 23, 2019 @ 6:00 pm

A fun internet game to play is "Guess Why it's Trending."

Sometimes it's scary (you'll never not fear the worst when "Betty White" begins to spike on Twitter), but for the most part, it's a highly amusing way to waste your time. Remember when Toad was trending? No one could have seen that one coming. And on Tuesday, we were presented with yet another stumper when "blue lasagna" began to sweep social media.

No, there was not a mold outbreak at the local Sbarro, but the real reason was equally unsettling: A public relations pitch was making the rounds about "gender reveal lasagnas." Because apparently nothing says "we're having a boy and we're excited" quite like ricotta filling stained blue.

Sure, as far as gender reveal parties go, this one is pretty tame. (When the bar is set at "not starting forest fires," that's not saying much.) But in 2019, there's been a lot of headscratching about what the point of a gender reveal party even is — just another Instagram photo opp? A replacement for a baby shower? An additional baby shower? An opportunity to go viral with a stunt gone wrong?

The Wikipedia page for gender reveal (2019 is wild) suggests social media is squarely to blame for a surge in such parties. The concept really took off on YouTube in 2008, much to the glee of party-supply stores and Etsy, and continues to dominate Instagram feeds to this day.

But it's not all fun and confetti, especially as the concept of gender becomes a part of a broader cultural conversation ("gender reveal" is criticized as a misnomer because what is really being revealed is the sex, or anatomy, of the baby). "As this trend has grown in popularity, it has sparked a divisive discourse and reasserted normative ideals of gender," writes Carly Gieseler, author of the study "Gender-reveal parties: performing community identity in pink and blue," in the abstract.

"It allows adults to recuperate what they have learned from their own gendered constructions, reinscribing expectations and assumptions onto the unwritten body of the unborn and propelling these ideals into the digital, social, public world," she added.

At the same time, on the opposite end of the spectrum, the concept of genderless parenting has begun to take off. Rather than ascribing the unborn with boy/girl stereotypes in a glorified manner, some parents have adopted a completely gender neutral lexicon. Enter "theybys," which are exactly what they sound like.

But there is some middleground, and Kate Hudson has found herself at the forefront of it. In an interview with AOL, the WW ambassador revealed that she was taking a "genderless" approach to raising her daughter, Rani Rose, who was born in October. "We still don’t know what she’s going to identify as," she added.

Though Hudson announced her pregnancy with daughter Rani by releasing dozens of pink balloons into the air last summer in Los Angeles, she has since changed her stance on predetermining her child's expression of her gender identity. "I can't do that to her," she said of some girly clothing. "It's so over-the-top." That said, she does still use the "she" pronoun (as opposed to a gender-neutral "they") when referring to her baby.

Meghan Markle is rumored to be taking a simlar approach. Multiple outlets have noted that she and Harry have opted for a gender-neutral nursery decorated in shades of white and gray, rather than a traditional blue or pink. And Meghan also told fans that she and her husband are waiting to find out the sex of their child, too — which is good news for the grounds crew that may have otherwise been stuck picking blue or pink confetti out of the grass at Frogmore until the child's fourth birthday.

As for her actual parenting style, the Duchess has remained mum. However, it's not a stretch to imagine that Meghan, who is progressive in her views, would choose to opt out of the restrictive gender dichotomy when it comes to raising Baby Sussex.

None of this is to say that the idea of genderless parenting is a particularly groundbreaking. In fact, Hudson and Markle are far from the first celebrity moms to eschew the gender binary in favor of a more fluid parenting approach. Meghan Markle gets credited for a lot, but this idea precedes her — just ask Pink.

Which brings us back to pink — or blue — lasagna. And all there's left to say about that, really, is: Why?