Remembering My Hat

10th June 2015

Queer Kinship Conference: Notes part 4

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 17:48
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I’ve only liveblogged one session today, due to a combination of technical issues and being tired. Click backwards from this one on the blog to find the earlier ones. As always, this is my version, not necessarily what the speakers intended.

Parallel Session 10: Practices of trans-parenting

Sally Hines, Leeds

Pregnant pauses: Trans* blokes, bodies and babies OR Pregnant men: An international exploration of trans male practices of reproduction

Early thinking, not yet funded. First title is what she’s interested in, second is one she thinks is more likely to get funded.

Wants to look at post-transition transmen’s experiences of pregnancy in order to look at what male pregnancy tells us about gender in society.

Pregnant men in scifi (Marge Piercy etc.). Donna Harraway imagined reproduction untied from feminity. And reproduction has been a key theme in feminism – as major cause of women’s disadvantage (Woman’s Room). Desire for men to experience disadvantages of pregnancy and reproduction. Also feminist desires for gender-neutral parenting. Pipefish and seahorses do it.

Proposing: mixed qual methods, interdisc, internat, experiences, health needs and citizenship claims of transmen re pregnancy.

Growth in phenomenon e.g. 50 transmen in Australia gave birth in 2nd half of 2015. Support and help groups in UK around these issues.

Subject of fear and fascination – an interesting binary. Potentially fetishized. Citizenship and recognition not well though through in policy and law. Few differences across Europe, unlike same-sex marriage.

Media furore around Thomas Beatty (?sp) 2010ish – claimed to be first pregnant man, although wasn’t actually (Pat Califa’s husband). Diverse responses although little celebration.

Non-academic phrased research questions:

  • What’s is like to be a guy and be pregnant
  • Who’s got access? What sort of families are being reproduced?
  • Does gender-recognition legislation help?
  • Is reproductive technology playing a major role, or are people doing it for themselves?

Documentary auto-ethnographic film will be part of the outputs. Reps from trans health groups costed into bid as project consultants.

 

Rachel Epstein, LGBTQ Parenting network, Sherbourne Health Centre, Toronto

Space invaders: Queer and trans bodies in fertility clinics

Run courses for queer people planning parenthood. Heard lots of stories about fertility clinics, did funding bid ‘Creating our families’. Qual 44 ints with 66 LGBTQ ppl across Ontario. Produced a guidebook for LGBTQ people, a tips sheet for clinics, fact sheet for trans people, theatre pieces for clinics, turned into a video (will soon be avail freely online – look at their website) + academic outputs.

Fertility industry – hugely gendered, raced, classed. How does queer fit into these spaces?

Drew a lot on Charis Thompson’s 2005 ethnography of fertility clinics, mainly het people.

Newness of technologies get normalised, become less scary by linking them back to conventional gender roles and family relationships. Heterosexual matrix (Butler) really gets naturalised. Sex = PIV heterosexual sex, desire for children is natural etc.

Gender labour – repairing of damaged gender identities. Men congratulated on how many sperm they produce, applauded on returning from the donation room! Body parts are separated from social identities.

So when queer and trans people enter this space, they may be unintelligible. Bodies don’t line up with norms. E.g. described 2 lesbians, one transwoman, as ‘het couple with male factor infertility’. ‘Good girl’ when ovulates, sperm called ‘the boys’. Advised to go home and have sex. Because transwoman can produce sperm, she is seen as a man. Cisfemale partner also found the kinds of femininity they expected her to perform difficult – would have preferred just to be treated as a uterus-on-legs, not to be constantly incited to perform femininity in traditional ways [also an issue for heterosexual people in fertility clinics].

Yuval Topper-Erez, Hoshen – LGBT education Centre

Transgender pregnancy and queer parenting from the personal perspective

Born to orthodox Jewish family. FTM, started testosterone age 20, told that after a year would never be able to get pregnant, but felt if he didn’t take T, he wouldn’t survive anyway. He and male partner thought they might adopt, but not possible as gay couple in Israel. Felt surrogacy wasn’t ethical for them since he had a uterus. Now have a 3 yr old and a 1 yr old.

Stopped testosterone, got pregnant. Outed in media – sure hospital leaked it, so decided he had to become a media figure – gained rights to edit and veto. Wanted to give birth at home in order to avoid media attention but medical complication meant couldn’t – not a good experience at all.

Took 18 months to register them both as parents – only way to do it was to register him as female again, register as mother, then change his gender back to male.

Second child state refused to register at all, so no access to health care until 3 months old. Same solution to ‘problem’ of his gender – Guinness Book of Records for most registered sex changes!

Has lots of implication for how bring up children – lots of talk about gender in their household. Kids know that gender is a choice and that you shouldn’t ascribe. Also changed his gender practices – told son nail polish was for everyone, then felt hypocritical that never wore it himself. Started to do so sometimes (also makes his son very happy).

Discussion

Q to Sally: Are you going to look at what are the narratives that transmen develop in order to navigate this difficult terrain? [Like narratives developed to get treatment at gender clinics]

A: A really good suggestion, thanks.

Q to Yuval: Say more about experiences – any difficulty or dysphoria from being pregnant?

A: Spoken to with female pronoun during labour (he didn’t notice!). Social worker came 12 hours after birth, asked lots of questions ‘now are you going to stay a woman’ ‘I’m a man now’ argument. Just have to agree to disagree. Didn’t feel there was anything feminine about being pregnant. Didn’t like being pregnant but it didn’t feel dysphoric. Since being pregnant it has changed his gender identity a bit because feels greater connection to the many women who have also given birth.

Q: Dominant cultural narrative that transpeople hate their original genitals and reproductive parts. I don’t see this in my work with trans youth. Do any of you?

A: It’s a narrative we had to tell to get treatment – a strategic rehearsed narrative. Maybe we are outgrowing the need for that story as trans gets more common.

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