Butches with Buns in the Oven!

ImageI opened up my Facebook today to see this fantastic picture and the words “Look guys! It’s our first butch + bun…in the oven!”

I could not be happier with this photo! First off, Chris in the picture has got all kinds of sass, which naturally I love. Secondly, pictures of people who look like me and who are pregnant!!! Someday, maybe I can add my picture(s) to the Butches + Babies blog.

I feel so happy and through the roof because it raises awareness that butches are carrying and birthing children (along with genderqueer and trans folks). When the public thinks of childbearing amongst gender non-conforming folks, my guess is the only image that (maybe) comes to mind is Thomas Beatie sharing his pregnancy on Oprah (or maybe Scott Moore if they’re really radical) as being THE transman who is also a birth parent. THE As in the one and only. A salacious circus sideshow for the public to consume and ponder about how this is even possible. This article announces that Moore is “[t]he world’s second known pregnant man”. This claim simply isn’t true. Trans and other gender non-conforming folks have been getting pregnant and giving birth since, well, longer than Oprah has had a talk show for sure. For sure.

But ay, there’s the rub. Yes I care that there is public awareness of these pregnancies. Yes, I want people to feel like they are not alone in their parenting decisions. To me, however, that’s not the most pressing issue. Most of all, I want there to be good, qualified, culturally competent, and sensitive care givers that gender non-conforming folks can reliably turn to for their GYN and OB care. I never want someone to wonder whether their healthcare provider will mix up their name and/or pronouns, never ever to worry if their body and embodied experience in this world will be treated respectfully or even competently. And part of the problem is that if there’s not public awareness of the pregnancies and births of gender non-conforming folks, then care providers will not feel the push to become competent in this area. To intentionally change their practices to become radically inclusive of all people who need their services. I want to applaud the ACNM for their recent position statement promising to work towards inclusive and competent care for their gender non-conforming clients.

Homebirth midwives, I think, could be ideal care providers for necessary sexual and reproductive health services for trans and gender queer clients as well as for pregnancy and birth. Imagine a homebirth for your beautiful family watching Baba push his baby out in the water into the waiting hands of his love and then snuggling up with their baby surrounded by care providers who know them for who they are and love and respect them. With no social workers coming in moments after the birth demanding to know who the birth parent is, removing the non-birth/non-biological parent from the room and making them sign second-parent adoption papers instead of bonding with your child in those precious first hours. Nobody using the wrong pronouns intentionally and derogatorily. Nobody giving anybody the stink eye, looking shocked, or being confused. And nobody talking about how ideal your breasts are for breastfeeding after you had a long conversation about with your care provider prenatally and explicitly stated that you plan to chestfeed your infant. Just you, your family, and your competent, inclusive care providers that you feel comfortable being your whole selves with.

I fully intend to serve queer and gender non-conforming clients in my (future) midwifery practice. I’m so close to that reality I can taste. Now we’ve just got to get MANA the general population of homebirth midwives on board and we’d really be heading in the right direction.

Trans-Inclusive Language and Midwifery

Right. So we’re going to try a radical (and radically simple) act here. From here on out, Bloody Show will only use trans and genderqueer inclusive language to talk about pregnancy and birth.

Yes, the majority of people who are pregnant or who have given birth identify as women. But really that’s no excuse for not using trans-inclusive language when writing/talking about pregnancy and birth. Once upon a time I read a birth book and the author wrote a disclaimer in the beginning recognizing that although there are queer women with female partners who give birth, she was just going to use “he” and “father” to refer to the partner of the pregnant person since most partners were male. It made me outrageously mad to read that as a queer woman and to see my reality and life erased and made lesser than simply because I was not in the majority. So in that way, I’ve decided it’s outrageous for me not to be actively inclusive when I write and talk about pregnancy and birth.

I’ve been seeing more and more discussion about this in birth blogs through the interwebs, and it makes me excited. Like Mom’s Tin Foil Hat in her post Collaboration Can be Cool:

Being an ally can be a good thing, and can be really gratifying and worth it. I know it can be potentially irritating for members of these groups to point out obvious things to people like me (e.g. If you don’t have to mention gender, don’t mention it! When in doubt, leave it out. It’s easier than it seems. Pregnant woman Pregnant patient. See how simple?

I’ve just gotten to the point where I recognize that I can’t call myself a trans-ally or say that I’m interested in intersections of sex and gender and birth unless I am actively conscious about using inclusive language. So that’s what I’ve decided to do an I hope you’ll join me. Like I said, it’s a surprisingly radical act (What? Men can give birth?) and incredibly simple and easy to do. Just switch a pronoun here and, drop a reference to gender there, and you’re all set.

Fighting for racial justice IS queer

Mia Mingus is amazing and if you don’t know who she is, you should definitely go and check her out. She is “a queer disabled woman of color korean american transracial and transnational adoptee working, creating and loving towards wholeness and connection, love and liberation” and one kick-ass activist.

Her recent blog post “Intersectionality” is a Big Fancy Word for my Life pares down the keynote address she recently gave at MBLGTACC 2010. I think I’m in love. Listen.

We have to confront white supremacy within LGBT and Queer communities.  A queer politic MUST include solidarity with people of color; it MUST include fighting racism and white supremacy.  Because we aren’t queer OR people of color; queer OR white; queer OR able bodied; queer OR working class.  We can’t just decide to come together as queer people and expect that we are all going to be united and work together—or that we’ll even feel comfortable.

We must be willing to have hard conversations as queer people with each other about how we are different as queer people.  It helps us to expand what “queerness” is—to see that there are many different ways to be queer.

This talk about intersectionality is my kind of politics. The more I move out in the world, the more I realize that thinking in this way is part of a radical politic. Also, the more I grow the more I know without a doubt how absolutely necessary this kind of thinking is.

Racism and white supremacy are so pervasive, that we don’t even have to be consciously or intentionally doing anything to participate in them.  It’s in the air we breathe; it’s how the machine rolls; it’s the default.  It’s backed by everything in our society.  That’s the thing about oppression, power and privilege: unless you are actively challenging it, you are colluding with it. We live in a heterosexist society, we live in an ableist society and we all have a responsibility to actively work against it. We can’t guarantee that things won’t be ableist or won’t be racist (that’s not the world we live in right now); but we CAN guarantee that when there is racism, when there is ableism, that we will do something about it.  We will LISTEN to those most impacted; we will listen to people of color, we will listen to disabled folks; we will listen to trans folks; we will listen to queer disabled people of color—and hear them.  We can guarantee that we will act and communicate with each other.  And maybe we will make mistakes; and we will learn from them.

There is no such thing as neutrality.  If you have privilege, you can never be neutral, because you are constantly benefiting off of that privilege—even at the same time as you are also being oppressed. That is what “intersectionality” (for lack of a better word) is about.  It is about moving beyond single-issue politics; it’s about understanding the complexities of our lives.  It is understanding that fighting for racial justice IS queer; fighting for disability justice IS queer.

Intersectionality informs the type of student midwife I am and the type of midwife I hope to be. How can we wake the birth community up to the necessity of this expansive way of thinking?