News & Opinion | July 22, 2021 11:55 am

Couple Faces Possible Jail Time for Wildfire-Starting Gender Reveal Party

Yet further proof that gender reveal parties are unnecessary and destructive

El Dorado wildfire blazes behind trees - a couple whose gender reveal party started the blaze faces possible jail time
Thinking of hosting a gender reveal party? Maybe just don't!
Will Lester/MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via Getty Images

There are many good reasons not to host a gender reveal party, but in case you needed another one, a California couple recently indicted on 30 charges related to a massive wildfire sparked by a gender reveal party they threw last September proves that announcing the genitals of your unborn child could literally land you in jail.

Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr and Angela Renee Jimenez have been criminally charged for their role in igniting the deadly El Dorado wildfire via a pyrotechnic device used at their gender reveal party, the Guardian reported. The destructive blaze engulfed nearly 23,000 acres of land, destroying five homes and 20 buildings and taking the life of firefighter Charlie Morton.

“You’re obviously dealing with lost lives, you’re dealing with injured lives, and you’re dealing with people’s residences that were burned and their land that was burned,” said Jason Anderson, the San Bernardino county district attorney, during a press conference. “That encompasses a lot of, not only emotion, but damage, both financially and psychologically.”

As a result of all that financial and psychological damage, the Jimenez couple now face 30 charges including one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures and 22 misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing fire to property of another.

Call it bad karma, or simply just desserts for the consequences of one’s actions, but this particularly extreme example comes as further evidence that gender reveal parties — unnecessary and often dangerous events that also reinforce dated notions of binary gender and biological essentialism — are simply a bad idea. It’s also worth noting that this wasn’t the first or last time a gender reveal party caused death and/or destruction. Back in 2017, another gender reveal incident involving a blue smoke bomb sparked a massive fire in Arizona, and two years later a woman in Iowa lost her life to a gender reveal explosion. Meanwhile, four people have been killed during gender reveal parties this year alone as of April.

Amid all this havoc, the woman widely credited with starting the gender reveal trend back in 2008 with a relatively innocuous cake-cutting ceremony has since apologized for releasing this destructive force upon the unsuspecting masses, coming forward in 2019 to express her regret for sparking a trend that began with a pink cake shaped like a duck and eventually led to massive wildfires, injury and death. “It started to take a turn,” Jenna Karvunidis told the Guardian at the time. “Then I started to realize that non-binary people and trans people were feeling affected by this, and I started to feel bad that I had released something bad into the world.”

So next time you feel compelled to publicly announce the genitals of an unborn child to friends and loved ones, particularly if you plan to do so via the use of pyrotechnics, ask yourself this: Is sharing this personal and ultimately meaningless information worth killing someone and/or going to jail? Throwing a gender reveal party may not be illegal in and of itself — even if it should be — but as one California couple is finding out, the increasingly reviled stunt could still land your ass in jail.