Hello to all my readers who have so patiently been waiting for more than a facebook update every now and then from me. It seems like everything here on the land is up in full swing. I can find myself so busy patching holes in pig fences, transplanting seedlings, harvesting the first spring wilds, fetching eggs before ravens’ steal them that sitting down to write can feel daunting.
As I announced last month, I am pregnant. Over the last 11 of weeks the experience of being pregnant has tested all sorts of my edges. I have had nausea most days, but luckily usually only in the mornings. I have been super grateful to other friends who have been pregnant, my midwife, internet friends on the always helpful and supportive Birthing and Breastfeeding Trans People and Allies Group on FB and the powerhouse women of my family whose experiences with pregnancy have all made this feel like something I am capable of getting through. Andi has been a really great partner in this project so far, busting ass to making sure that we can put gas in the truck and food on the table when I am too sick to show up for much in the way of cash work, as well as bringing me sprinkles toast in bed and helping keep track of things that would easily be lost in my pregnancy brain fog. So far this experience has expanded the respect that I have for everyone who has ever done this pregnancy thing; and at this point in human history, we all have someone to credit for holding us through this process. (this is the cue to call your moms/gestational parents/say a prayer to those who’ve passed or found themselves outside your life etc).
It is super bizarre to gestate a tiny human life inside of myself, I am constantly amazed and enthralled by the sheer weirdness of it. I got a chance to see it flapping around on a screen a few weeks ago, with its little paddle hands and super human heart rate and giant brain that is building new neurons at a rate that would make most adults feel like they were tripping beyond control.
I have also found navigating the world of pregnancy related things to be a next level of gender binary essentialism. As I mentioned, groups on facebook have been a crucial line to others with this perspective.
One experience that I have had and thought I’d share with all of you was that of receiving the message from the medical imaging center to book that ultrasound you see above. In the message, I was referred to as SHE, by an unknowing and I’m sure well meaning person, probably 15 times. I can’t be sure that I am the first non-she person to have a fetal ultrasound at our small town hospital, but I’m pretty sure that I won’t be the last. These experiences, along with looking for information online (I don’t really even bother with books, cause… well….) I am bombarded the constant
pregnancy = motherhood = woman = feminine
These understandings are still on the beginning edges of being challenged and I want to thank the other folks who have served in the early stages of this process. While the mainstream media understanding of these things is still fairly limited to transmen who sold their stories, there are many more who’ve written their own stories, advocated for themselves and others, and swam upstream in creating pregnancy birthing and parenting support structures that recognize that
pregnancy ≠ motherhood ≠ woman ≠ feminine
Some resources/leaders I recommend checking out. :
–Trevor MacDonald: He’s just published a new book “Where’s the Mother?”. I have a preview copy of this book on it’s way to prepare me for an upcoming radio interview I will be doing with him on Sex, Drugs and How We Roll (date TBA). Trevor was also instrumental in the establishment of the Birthing + Breast or Chest Feeding Trans People and Our Allies Group on Facebook and made some major waves in the La Leche League as a chest feeding dad who wanted to serve in a leadership position.
–j wallace skelton + s bear bergman: this powerhouse couple of writers, educators consultants and parents based in Ontario have both been public voices in this fight. They recorded a radio documentary that aired on the CBC about acquiring their first small child Stanley, which you can listen to here. I was saddened to have missed j’s presentation at the Moving Trans History Forward conference in Victoria recently (morning sessions and my morning specific pregnancy sickness didn’t mix well) but I look forward to hopefully catching a re-cap from j once the academic season has wrapped. It was called “The first! The very first! Well, the very first legally male, heterosexual married trans guy to be pregnant!” and what my mom got from it was that it was rich with historical info and images of non-women people getting pregnant and having babies from forever and ever. Flamingo Ramant micropress, run by j’s husband Bear, is busy bringing better kids books to homes, schools and libraries all over including stories about trans kids and kids in trans families.
–Beyond the Binary– my mom sent me this article out of the UK which sums up a lot of the challenges of pregnancy in a non-binary body.
–Birth For Everybody: is a collection of midwives working to improve midwifery care’s accessibility. They have an extensive list of recommended reading that is worth checking out, especially if all of this feels new to you and/or if you work in the birth world.
–Trans Birth: is a directory created to connect trans* and gender
non-conforming people and their families to midwives, OBGYNs,
and doulas who provide welcoming care to our communities. This listing is not complete, new people are joining all the time and there are trans competent care providers who aren’t on here. Let it serve as a jumping off point…
–A Womb of Their Own: a film by Cyn Lubow that features masculine of center people talking about their experiences of pregnancy and birth. I have only seen the trailer of this film so far because it is still in the festival circuit but I look forward to seeing the full version when it reaches broader distribution.
–Transforming Family: a short documentary by Rémy Huberdeau about trans families that features a range of trans people speaking to their experiences of parenting. This short film expanded to become a 45 minute documentary Transgender Parents.
(note: these are just some of the first ones that come to mind… I may add to this list at a later time)
Just like that, a little note to say hi turned into a much longer post filled with gratitude and resources. Thanks again to everyone who does this work outside of the public eye, the people who are showing up for appointments, correcting care providers, doing unpaid training work off the sides of their change tables and more.
I have had the privilege of getting to know more and more folks who have been pregnant outside a woman identity and the people who love and support them through the internet and also circles of friends IRL. This pregnancy stuff is super hard. It involves growing a whole new being inside of yourself. Doing that while also challenging expectations of who can do that, who would do that, what it means to do that and more is extra super challenging. I want to share so much love and appreciation to everyone who has been a part of helping create the cracks that are letting our reality shine through.
I also want to just remind folks that I am putting together a new round of Resilience Building for Trans Folks and Our Allies, the online course that I launched this past winter. I am offering 2 different time sessions this round, with the hopes that folks in the eastern time zones who couldn’t stay up til the wee hours with us west coasters can join in the fun. Tuesdays will happen at 3PM pacific time, to accommodate the eastern evenings. West coast folks and others world wide for whom the 6:30 pacific time works for are encouraged to sign up for Thursdays. The course offers opportunities for personal exploration, community connection building and learning more about the beautifully intricate big picture of trans lives through time and space. Both sessions start in mid-May and have limited space. Sign up early to ensure your spot.