“Equality is not about giving everyone the same experiences, but about recognising that, while everyone is different, they should be equally valued and educated in an environment where they feel they belong.” – Rona Tutt.
Pregnancy and birthing had for many years been a closed practice of which a heterosexual male and female would conceive, and the woman carries the pregnancy to term, then births their beloved newborn. In this day’s society we have gained so much knowledge on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) families and also families that include Non-Binary parents.
Most of these families do not fit under the umbrella term ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’ and so we open our dialogue, our minds and our hearts to correcting our old notions and enter a new age of acceptance and inclusivity within the birthing world.
This inclusivity should begin from the very first conversations we have with families who are needing a birth support person by simply inviting them to inform us of their pronouns (he/his, she/hers or they/them to name a few).
It is equally as important to ask, especially queer families, what they would like to be referred to as?
Many same sex couples will have a preference over ‘mum and mum’ or ‘dad and dad’.
A comfortable way of opening this conversation up would be to offer your own pronouns first at the beginning of your new relationship, as Doula and birthing person, and endeavouring to remember these terms.
The LGBTQIA+ community are a group of people who do not identify as heterosexual whereas Transgender and Non-Binary people, specifically, are a community who do not identify with the gender they were assigned with at birth.
‘Trans’ can be identified as “one or to the other side of”, implying Transgender would mean flipping physical gender to the other end of the spectrum. We now know that Transgender people do not ‘change’ gender but simply become the gender they have always better identified with inside.
Non-Binary people do not identify with any one gender at any one time, most Non-Binary individuals prefer they/them terminology when being spoken to or about, alternatively they will provide you with their pronouns if you ask!
Several Transgender men will often keep their uterus, ovaries, and vulva so that one day they may have the chance to conceive and birth a bundle of joy of their own. However, we obviously cannot use terms such as ‘mother’ with Trans men as they are male identifying, and this can offend them, which brings us back to asking families at the beginning of communication (even if couples look heterosexual and cis gender) so unoffensive terminology, such as: Chest feeding, Parenthood, and Birthing parent can be implemented to ensure comfortability and inclusion.
Same sex couples should be treated just as respectfully as Trans or Non-Binary but most of all just as respectfully as heterosexual couples. When walking into a room do not assume you are looking at Mum and Aunty or Dad and Uncle, ask questions and get involved!
It is perfectly okay to not get it right all the time, but it is definitely important to not make a big fuss over the situation if you do mess up, apologise if necessary, and move on with intent to remember the correct terminology and pronouns when around your families.
If you are becoming a Doula or birth support worker but feel as though someone else may have more experience or be better suited to LGBTQIA+ families, you may want to recommend alternative care providers. There are plenty of Queer or Transgender Doulas available online or in person. However, if you are up to the role and come from an authentic place endeavour to support Queer and Transgender Doulas or influencers on social media or online. In doing so you will be able to gain a plethora of useful and important resources to expand your knowledge and make you the best possible birthing support you can be for this family.
Then again, I know many identifying women want to feel and hear the intensity and drive behind motherhood and breastfeeding words so it is important to not completely discard feminine terminology when talking about birth instead you can use as well/or terms, such as Breast or Chest feeding, when addressing groups of people, it is okay to uplift and empower everyone in every way.
Birth, at the end of the day, is always about connecting to the divine feminine energy within no matter how you identify or who you love.
For some useful resources on Trans birthing visit: https://transfertility.co
For knowledge and inspiration on Queer birthing you can follow @thequeerbirthclub on Instagram.
My name is Victoria Mary and I am a student Doula who is completing extensive training with the Doula Training Academy. If you wish to learn more information about myself and your options for birthing please contact me.
0448 891 277