It’s hard to overstate the importance of the book Who’s Your Daddy? And Other Writings on Queer Parenting. Writing of the joys and trials of being an LGBTQ parent, or trying to become one, or the experience of being queer spawn – accounts like these are just a few of the issues that are covered in this anthology. These are personal accounts of families who have fought to become families in very challenging ways – whether fighting stigmas from within, from the medical system, in the media, in the political apparatus that tries to dictate who and how we can love. This is the book you would want to give anyone in those fields to help them understand ways in which real, open respect can be shown to all kinds of families that are built on love.
But if I’m making it seem sombre, I have no one to blame but myself. The pieces are most often funny, even when they talk about unjust scenarios. Like when Syrus Marcus Ware writes in “Boldly Going where Few Men Have Gone Before: One Trans Man’s Experience”:
Insemination, or “You Are Going To Stick What in Where?!”
Nik and I have decided to become parents through insemination; specifically through the insemination of me. It wasn’t as complicated a choice as you may assume — I have always been curious about pregnancy and labour, and am happy to have the chance to experience them firsthand. We had a plan, we had a timeline, we had read countless books, and had even helped design a community course for trans fathers-to-be. We are ready … I think.
A few months ago we had our first appointment with Dr. Baby Maker at the Baby Making Clinic (BMC). A week before the appointment, a nurse at the health clinic that referred us to the BMC called to let us know that our application had been red-flagged. The query: “How could two men be in need of insemination?” I’m not sure why I was surprised by this; fertility clinics are still very gender-specific places where men produce sperm and women carry babies, despite the reality that in this world this is only true some of the time. I wondered if the clinic would be prepared to help a trans woman with sperm immobility to successfully get her trans male partner pregnant despite his ovarian cysts. Perhaps, perhaps not. I worried that this early interruption in the process might be a warning sign for future complications, but Nik and I bravely decided to continue on and give the BMC another shot. Thankfully, the nurse who referred us did some pre-visit advocacy on our behalf. In addition, shortly after we began at the BMC, a group of queer parenting advocates did some great trans-specific training with the clinic staff to help get them up to speed on providing excellent care to their future trans clients. The clinic welcomed us, and set our first appointment date for early spring 2008.
We went to our first appointment full of anxiety and excitement. What could we expect? How long would it take? Would they call me “she”? Would I be recognized as the father, along with Nik? And, perhaps most pressing, would they have to (eep!) probe me? I had already decided that I was willing to put up with a certain level of confusion or misinformation about trans bodies if it would help us reach our goal: to get pregnant with our baby. Yet, as we sat in the waiting room, I wondered if I would be able to handle being “she’d” or having a frank discussion about my “ovaries” or menstrual cycles with a doctor. I felt confident that despite wanting to be pregnant, I was still a man. But I worried about the staff’s ability to recognize and respect my beliefs. I believe that, as a man about to carry our child, I have a lot to offer our child in terms of questioning gender rigidity in our society, and teaching the world about alternative ways of parenting. Perhaps it was this hope that got me through that time in the waiting room, unsure of what to expect.
Edited and Compiled by Rachel Epstein, Who’s Your Daddy? And Other Writings on Queer Parenting is a book to cherish. Check back tomorrow and throughout the next few days for writings by Emma Donaghue, Elizabeth Ruth, Jamie K. Evans and N. Gitanjali Lena