Sad about having a boy not a girl? Your distress might be real but ‘gender disappointment’ is no mental illness
In an age of gender-reveal parties, baby bumps on Instagram, and hyper-gendered toys and clothing, learning about a baby’s sex is big news.
But having a boy rather than a girl, or vice versa, makes some people sad. Some label this “gender disappointment”.
Our research looked at what’s behind this sadness and whether gender disappointment is a mental illness, as some people say.
What’s ‘gender disappointment’?
In many societies, an ideal family is still a very gendered project. We see people wanting the son or daughter they’ve dreamed of or being congratulated for a “gender balanced family” with at least one boy and a girl.
Parents who do not achieve this ideal can feel they failed at something important. And some parents want to use IVF to choose their child’s sex.
Gender disappointment is often portrayed as a mental illness, similar to depression, in the media and on online forums, where prospective parents discuss their desire for, or experience with, sex selection.
Parents who have been interviewed about choosing the sex of their baby via IVF have also described gender disappointment as a mental illness.