A place for discussions for and by cis and trans lesbians, bisexual girls, chicks who like chicks, bi-curious folks, dykes, butches, femmes, girls who kiss girls, birls, bois, aces, LGBT allies, and anyone else interested! Our subreddit is named r/actuallesbians because r/lesbians is not really for or by lesbians–it was meant to be a joke. We’re not a militant or exclusive group, so feel free to join up!
An exciting new study on the experiences of LGBTQ+ people who are pregnant and postpartum aims to use its results to create positive changes for all LGBTQ+ childbearing people. Learn more and find out if you are eligible to take part.
The Study of Queer & Trans PREG (Perinatal Resilience and Experiences of Gestation) is led by Kodiak Soled, MSN, RN, a Ph.D. candidate in the Columbia University School of Nursing and a board member of GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ+ Equality. She’s backed by a team not only of academics but also of community advisors since, as they explain on the study’s website, “We believe in community-informed research that privileges the expertise of community members and values their priorities and needs.”
Their goal, too, goes beyond just academic results: ultimately, they want to find ways to improve the future health of the LGBTQ+ community. They say:
We hope this study will allow LGBTQ+ childbearing people to document their own challenges as well as their strengths related to the childbearing journey and bring visibility to issues the community cares about most.
We hope by documenting LGBTQ+ childbearing experiences, we can use this knowledge to educate healthcare professionals, advocacy organizations, and support services on our needs.
We hope that using images, along with stories, will be a compelling way to speak to people in power and spark changes in policy that support and celebrate LGBTQ+ pregnant people and parents.
We hope this study will contribute to the development of future research studies that uplift and resource the diversity of people that bear children and their families.
The study will take place online over approximately six months. After an enrollment meeting, participants will take part in three, one-to-two-hour online interviews with surveys, all about their pregnancy and postpartum experiences. Between the interviews, they will take approximately 70 photos of these experiences, guided by biweekly prompts. (Using a cell phone camera is fine.)
Participants can be compensated up to $165 if they are found to be eligible and complete all research procedures.
Learn more and see if you are eligible (and if you’re not, please pass along the info to someone who might be).
Melissa Faliveno is a Wisconsin born-and-raised writer living in New York.
Her first book, Tomboyland, is coming out 2020-08-04. It’s an essay collection cum memoir.
An adapted extract from the book was published in Esquire as ‘Why our gender identity language isn’t enough on 2020-06-24.
I don’t know if Melissa Faliveno uses the word butch as a self-descriptor. But she writes about the complex relationship she has with gender and gender identity and gender expression from the perspective of someone who gets misgendered at least twice a week
From the perspective of someone who typically looks more traditionally masculine than feminine:
It isn’t just the choices I make about my appearance that make me androgynous — that I keep my hair cut short, say, or that my wardrobe is composed of t-shirts and jeans, button-downs and suits — but the body I was born with, the DNA that built me. Equal parts farm-family Midwesterner and swarthy Mediterranean, my body is a stovepipe, long and lean without much curve. My hips are narrow, my back and shoulders broad. My biceps are big and my breasts are small, my cheekbones sharp and my nose large. My body hair is dark and thick; it grows black and wild on my arms and legs, and with obnoxious consistency between my eyebrows and above my upper lip. My voice is deeper than that of many men I know.
I’ve already pre-ordered the book.
NB: an extra reason I, in particular, pre-ordered the book. In the Esquire extract above, Faliveno also writes about being bisexual and the endless erasure that comes with that, from everyone, gay or straight.
There were many sentences in the extract that made it very likely I was going to order this book. But the literal sentence that made my pre-ordering the book inevitable was this one:
most of the time, when someone in the queer community tells me I don’t belong there, I believe them.
I mostly keep to the margins of Kinsey-6–centric spaces but I think this book might be of interest and perhaps value to some of the folk who virtually gather here. So this postscript is a pre-emptive bit of (self-)defense. Faliveno is absolutely masculine of centre. She might even be comfortable with butch as a descriptor. But she is not a lesbian. Just in case that matters (as experience tells me it often does).
Five years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that marriage should be open to all couples, no matter their gender—and one of the strongest arguments in the case was the best interests of children. Yet even five years after marriage equality, we are still struggling towards full equality for our families.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion of Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that won marriage equality nationwide:
Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples. This does not mean that the right to marry is less meaningful for those who do not or cannot have children. Precedent protects the right of a married couple not to procreate, so the right to marry cannot be conditioned on the capacity or commitment to procreate.
Marriage equality advocates had worked hard to transform “think of the children” from an argument against marriage for same-sex couples into one for it. Back in 2008, during the Proposition 8 battle in California, marriage equality opponents tried to scare people by saying that marriage equality would require that students learn about homosexuality in schools (as if that were a bad thing). Prop 8 passed, and same-sex couples were blocked from marriage. By 2013, however, the U.S. Supreme Court wrote in Windsor, the case that tore down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): “[DOMA] humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples…. [and] makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.” Variations of that argument were then used to win every other federal decision on marriage equality, except for the one in the 6th Circuit, which ruled against marriage equality and thus precipitated its hearing before the Supreme Court in Obergefell.
Most of the plaintiffs in Obergefell were parents (though not lead plaintiff Jim Obergefell), as I detailed here. Additionally, many children of same-sex parents contributed to the Voices of Children amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in Obergefell, organized by Family Equality Council, COLAGE, and Kentucky youth Kinsey Morrison. Many others spoke out in public forums, in their classrooms, or on the playground to stand up for their families. (The most well-known of these is perhaps Zach Wahls, who in 2011 spoke at an Iowa House hearing about a bill to ban marriage for same-sex couples, and is now an Iowa state senator himself.)
Marriage is an important institution for both practical and symbolic reasons, and the impact of Obergefell was positive and resounding. Marital rights and parental rights have a complicated and not coterminous relationship, though, and nonbiological mothers have had to bring lawsuits in many states, even after Obergefell, in order to gain legal rights to their children and be put on their birth certificates. (A short and probably incomplete list: Arkansas and Arizona, Hawaii, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Indiana.) And just last week, as I recently wrote, Indiana has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to deny the right of married nonbiological mothers in same-sex couples to be put on their children’s birth certificates without second-parent adoptions, thus denying the children the security of having two legal parents from birth. (The Supreme Court has yet to say whether it will take the case.)
Additionally, the U.S. State Department is continuing to deny some children of married same-sex couples equal rights to citizenship—although a federal court last week said they were wrong to do so in one instance.
Furthermore, marriage is not the solution to all of our inequalities. The Supreme Court ruled last week that people cannot be fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, which is another huge milestone; yet the Trump administration has also finalized a rule that says health care anti-discrimination protections don’t cover discrimination based on LGBTQ identities. More and more states and the federal government are permitting religiously based discrimination in adoption and foster care. And transgender people continue to face discrimination in many other areas, including military service.
Many LGBTQ rights organizations are pushing for the passage of the Equality Act, which would offer broad protections to LGBTQ people and our children throughout our daily lives. That seems a good idea, but will likely depend heavily on the results of the November election. Even as we look back with pride on the progress we’ve made over the past five years, then, let us also recommit to the work we still need to be doing.