The announcement that Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, had gone into labour this morning sent media outlets around the world into a frenzy.
With parents (one American no less!) committed to a "modern upbringing," "Baby Sussex" is the latest addition to a new generation of royalty that marks a split with the conservative past.
So the mode by which the Sussexes reported the birth was perhaps a bit surprising.
There, plastered on the couple's new, rule-breaking Instagram page was the official announcement: "It's a BOY!"
While, using only the Sussex's trademark blue, the post is free of the gendered frills that charactrize most "reveals," the label is nonetheless striking.
Shouldn't we resist assigning a gender to a newborn? Doing so could make life difficult, and create potentially threatening situations, once the child is old enough to voice its own gender identity.
Gender has, of course, been of heightened significance to the royal family. The former rule of male primogeniture placed more importance on the birth of male heirs. Though the royal family abandoned that system in 2013, the spectacle of the gender announcement persists.
I, too, am guilty ofparticipating in the presumptuous gendering of this newborn. It is difficult to abstain when the baby's parents have endorsed the label and "baby boy Sussex" has already entered the popular lexicon.
The Mirror reports that the birth announcement actually represents a departure from Meghan and Harry's commitment to a gender-neutral childhood.
Toys and decor in the royal household are reportedly free of the trappings of gender. Yet, "Baby Sussex" is decidedly "a boy."
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex was safely delivered of a son at 0526hrs. The baby weighs 7lbs 3oz and The… https://t.co/jfw8a3dsRR— The Royal Family (@The Royal Family) 1557150460.0
If anything, this case well demonstrates the degree to which, despite our best intentions, assumptions of gender still dominate the conversation surrounding birth annoucements.
My intention is not to offer a solution, nor is it to chastise Meghan and Harry, who have consistently shown their progressive values.
I just hope that while we celebrate the birth of Baby Sussex and recognize Meghan and Harry's effort to be responsible parents, we also realize that there is much work left to be done in our society.
Read Phil Hill's HuffPost article, "Why We Need To Stop Assuming Babies' Gender," for more information about the effects of gendering newborns.