Tag: Study

Almost One Quarter of LBQ Women Are Parents; Bisexual Moms Feel Less Connected to LGBTQ Community, Study Finds

Almost One Quarter of LBQ Women Are Parents; Bisexual Moms

A new study has found that nearly one quarter (22.8 percent) of cisgender lesbian, bisexual, and queer women ages 18 to 59 have children. Compared with non-parent LBQ women, the parents were more likely to be bisexual, in a relationship with a man, and non-urban. What does that mean for the LGBTQ parenting community and its representation?

Bisexual flag

Photo credit: Peter Salanki; adapted under a CC BY 2.0 license

This latest study, from researchers affiliated with the Williams Institute at UCLA, is the first to use a U.S. population-based sample to compare the mental health of lesbian, bisexual, and other-identified female parents and non-parents. Its findings about the rate of parenthood among LBQ individuals corresponds to previous work showing that an estimated 24 percent of female same-sex couples have children.

Among lesbian women, the oldest non-parents reported more happiness and less psychological distress than the youngest non-parents. (Perhaps there is wisdom that comes with age.) There was no difference, however, in happiness and psychological distress among the parents in different age groups. Non-parents, however, indicated more internalized homophobia than parents. The authors don’t hypothesize why this might be; I’d venture a guess that it’s because children often force us to be out in ways we never imagined.

Bisexual parents in the study, however, reported more psychological distress and lower life satisfaction and happiness than lesbian parents, something the researchers found surprising, “because the overwhelming majority of bisexual parents are in relationships with male partners and thus would likely be viewed as heterosexual by the general public.”

Parenthood for bisexual mothers involved with male partners thus comes at a cost from both the general public and the LGBT community.

Although one might assume there are benefits to being viewed as heterosexual, however, the researchers say their results are consistent with findings of other studies that show sexual minority women with male partners “reported less connection to the LGBT community and greater anxiety” and that many bisexual mothers experience binegativity and exclusion by lesbian communities. “Parenthood for bisexual mothers involved with male partners thus comes at a cost from both the general public and the LGBT community,” the current study concludes. The youngest group of bisexual women reported more community connectedness than bisexual women of other age groups, though.

Even parents with “emerging identities,” such as “queer, pansexual, asexual, and others,” reported “more social support from friends, and were lower on internalized homophobia than bisexual parents. Although the number of parents with other sexual identities was small, our results indicate that these parents are finding support and experiencing pride in their identities, contrary to bisexual parents.”

Co-author Esther D. Rothblum, visiting distinguished scholar at the Williams Institute, said in a statement, “There is a unique form of bias against people who have both same-sex and different-sex attractions and sexual relationships, and this may be why we see poorer mental health outcomes for bisexual parents.”

Another recent study confirms that the majority of LGBT adults (54.6 percent) identify as bisexual. And we’ve long known there are millions of bisexual parents, most in different-sex relationships. Yes, that may sometimes give them the advantage of “passing” as straight, but as this study shows, there are significant disadvantages as well. And parents who feel excluded and distressed may convey that stress to their children. It’s not good for anyone. The takeaway, for me, is that the LGBTQ community needs to do more to include, support, and represent bisexual parents.

The study is “Mental Health of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Other-identified Parents and Non-Parents from a Population-Based Study,” Journal of Homosexuality, by Mark Assink, Ph.D., Esther D. Rothblum, Ph.D., Bianca D. M. Wilson, Ph.D., Nanette Gartrell, M.D., and Henny M. W. Bos, Ph.D. (2021).

Study links toxic masculinity with support for Trump, surprising no one

Toxic masculinity

Surprise surprise, traits of toxic masculinity are more likely to be found in Trump fans (Envato)

An entirely predictable study has found that Americans who support traditional stereotypes of toxic masculinity are more likely to back Donald Trump.

A team from Penn State University found a correlation between belief in “hegemonic masculinity” – the notion that men should be strong, tough and dominant – and voting for Trump.

Of the 2,007 participants the researchers recruited, those who held outdated ideals of manhood were more likely to vote for and have positive feelings about Trump. This held true even when they controlled for political party, gender and how much the participants trusted the government.

“The pervasiveness of hegemonic masculinity exists because we do not always know that our attitudes and behaviours are contributing to it,” said doctoral candidate Nathaniel Schermerhorn, who was involved in the study.

“The success of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign shows that even if we, as a society, have made progress in saying that discrimination and prejudice is undesirable, we have not, as a society, fully interrogated the systematic ways in which those prejudices are upheld.”

Professor Theresa Vescio added that while Trump’s ideals of masculinity may resonate with voters, few are actually able to embody them.

“In contemporary America, idealised forms of masculinity suggest that men should be high in power, status and dominance, while being physically, mentally and emotionally tough,” she said.

“But this is an incredibly high standard that few can achieve or maintain. Therefore, this is an idea that many men strive to achieve, but few men actually exhibit.”

Meanwhile, a 2020 study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that homophobic men who exhibit traits of toxic masculinity are more likely to be prone to violent bullying, sexual harassment and mental illness.

So-called “macho” men with aggressive and anti-LGBT+ attitudes are twice as likely to be at risk of depression or suicidal tendencies, and up to five times more likely to engage in sexual harassment and online, physical or verbal bullying, the study showed.

GLAAD Study Shows Growth in LGBTQ-Inclusive Kids’ TV, but Still Need for More

GLAAD Study Shows Growth in LGBTQ-Inclusive Kids' TV, but Still

GLAAD yesterday released its latest annual “Where We Are on TV” report, which looks at the number of LGBTQ regular and recurring scripted characters on network television, cable, and streaming services. Let’s look at what they discovered about LGBTQ inclusion in children’s shows—while I wildly speculate about some LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books that I’d love to see made into shows.

Television Rainbow

The good news that there’s been “significant growth” in programming for children and families in recent years, “and the space continues to grow rapidly with new LGBTQ stories premiering on all platforms.” GLAAD therefore this year announced a second GLAAD Media Awards category to honor outstanding LGBTQ programming for young audiences—an Outstanding Children’s Programming category in addition to the existing Outstanding Kids & Family Programming category. Stay tuned to hear the results at the 32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards later this year.

Let’s focus here on shows for the younger age group. GLAAD informs us that in 2020, Cartoon Network aired the final episodes of Steven Universe Future, a limited-series epilogue to Steven Universe. They don’t tell us what the LGBTQ representation was in the miniseries, however, perhaps assuming that we’ll know the main series (which ended in 2019) was one of the queerest kids’ shows ever. This queerness carried over into the epilogue, with an episode in which one female character has a crush on another, and an episode with a character who uses they/them pronouns and is dating a female character. A show storyboarder has also tweeted that another character is asexual and aromantic.

Other inclusive shows listed by GLAAD include:

  • Nickelodeon’s The Loud House, with bisexual character Luna Loud and her girlfriend Sammy, as well as the two dads of protagonist Lincoln Loud’s best friend Clyde.
  • Nickelodeon’s Danger Force!, which had one episode that included two gay dads who recently adopted a son.
  • Disney XD’s DuckTales, which introduced a two-dad couple, the parents of Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s friend Violet. I’ll add that co-executive Producer Frank Angones has said that while they “do not play a huge role in the story thus far,” he’s “well aware that the ‘queer representation through parents and background characters’ trope is an issue, and “We do have some themes and ideas coming up that address relevant LGBTQ+ narratives.” Other episodes, GLAAD tells us, focused on a new character named Penumbra “who was confirmed to be a lesbian by the episode’s writer and director on Twitter. The character is not expected to return.” Half credit if the queerness has to be confirmed separately and the character is only temporary?
  • The Disney Channel animated series The Owl House, which developed a romantic storyline for bisexual protagonist Luz and a female classmate.
  • The finale of Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, which confirmed that the two female lead characters were in love. While that might seem like yet another example of queer inclusion being revealed only when the show was on its way out, the show in fact has had many queer secondary characters, some in same-sex relationships, one nonbinary, and others who are gender creative. In this case, keeping the main characters’ love for each other as a reveal at the end was about building romantic tension (which was pretty obvious in earlier episodes).
  • Netflix’s animated Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, which included central character Benson, in love with another male character, Troy. The series has ended, however.
  • Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club, a reboot of the 1990s show, which had one episode where one of the main characters is asked to sit for a young transgender girl, played by 9-year-old transgender actor Kai Shappley.
  • And one possible future show, the animated series Little Ellen on HBO Max, which follows the 7-year-old Ellen DeGeneres on various adventures. I have been unable to find a premiere date for it; given accusations of a toxic workplace environment on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, I have to wonder (though I have no evidence one way or another) if the kids’ show is in jeopardy.

Other queer-inclusive “family” shows on streaming services seem aimed at teens and up, so I won’t recap them here, but I encourage you to go read the full GLAAD report if you’re interested in shows for that age group.

Amazon has quietly shown characters with same-sex parents on its ongoing animated shows for young children, Pete the Cat and Bug Diaries, but GLAAD has not included them in its report, so I assume those characters did not appear in 2020 episodes. And the only kids’ show on a mainstream network to center on a child with LGBTQ parents, Hulu’s The Bravest Knight (about which more here), dropped its first season in 2019 but has not yet announced a second.

So: Progress? Yes. Where we need to be? Hardly. We need both LGBTQ characters who populate the world as secondary characters and LGBTQ characters and those with LGBTQ parents who are the stars of the show (without necessarily focusing the show on their LGBTQ identities).

Original television programming is one way to achieve the latter. Another is to use the accelerating number of LGBTQ-inclusive children’s books as starting points. Here are just a few of many possible ideas, which I offer with absolutely no inside information on whether any such things are in the works or if the authors would even be interested:

  • I’ve said before that Kyle Lukoff’s Max and Friends series, about a young transgender boy and his classmates, would make a terrific foundation for an animated series. And while there are happily many young trans actors who could voice the main role, my dream casting (not only because of his acting skills, but because of the attention it would bring to the show) would be Elliot Page.
  • Daniel Haack’s Prince & Knight, which is getting a sequel this year, feels like a natural fit. In my 2018 review, I even said the images have a “Disney-like” quality. Since Hulu’s The Bravest Knight focuses on a girl with two dads, and Prince & Knight focuses on the same-sex couple themselves, they seem sufficiently different.
  • Lesléa Newman’s classic Heather Has Two Mommies has the name recognition to be a hit. Expand it into “Heather and Friends” or “Heather and Her World” and it could work as a series about the adventures of a young girl.
  • The four-book Magic Misfits series by actor Neil Patrick Harris, about six friends and aspiring magicians (one of whom has two dads), seems ready-made for an ensemble-cast show, either animated or live action.
  • Emma Donoghue’s two books about the Lotterys, the multiracial, multiethnic, neurodiverse family of two same-sex couples co-parenting seven children, has the kind of controlled chaos that could make it a fun television romp (or even a feature film).
  • Dana Allison Levy’s four books set in the universe of her Family Fletcher, which include a family with two dads and one with two moms, feel like they could translate into a live-action show for older kids and tweens.

I’d also love a show in which a two-mom family (preferably a family of color) and their kids fly around the galaxy in a spaceship meeting diverse people and aliens and learning STEM lessons each episode. Clearly there is no end of ideas; we just need the networks and streaming services to commit to increasing further the LGBTQ representation in children’s programming. Are they tuning in?

COVID ‘amplifying’ inequalites faced by queer Black people, study shows

COVID 'amplifying' inequalites faced by queer Black people, study shows

Black LGBT+ lives land in the intersection of racism and homophobia. (Getty/Hollie Adams)

The COVID-19 pandemic is placing huge strain on Black queer households as decades of discrimination compound economic insecurity, a worrying new study has found.

The report released by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) identifies American communities that are bearing the brunt of COVID-19, noting that LGBT+ households were disproportionately challenged in work, school, childrearing, healthcare, financial insecurity and social isolation.

In particular Black and Latinx LGBT+ people are facing significantly higher levels of financial insecurity, with a shocking 95 per cent of queer Black households and 70 per cent of queer Latinx households experiencing at least one serious financial problem since the pandemic began.

And more than half of Black LGBT+ households have been unable to get medical care or had delayed medical services because of the economic strain of the pandemic.

“The pandemic has disrupted life for all of us. Yet, some communities have borne the brunt: Black and Latinx people, low-income people, and, as this new data shows, LGBT+ people,” said Ineke Mushovic, Executive Director at MAP.

“Decades of discrimination on the job, in healthcare and beyond, combined with uneven legal protections around the country make LGBT+ people more vulnerable to pandemic-related instability and insecurity, with an even more devastating impact on LGBT+ people of colour.”

The long history of racial discrimination in the US is contributing to many problems, but the disparity is also seen in the wider LGBT+ community, with queer people of all backgrounds experiencing increased challenges compared to the straight population.

For example, LGBT+ households are twice as likely to be unable to get necessary medical care and four times more likely to go hungry.

Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of LGBT+ people and their families experienced a job loss or disruption, compared to just under half (45 per cent) of non-LGBT+ households.

29 per cent had serious problems with internet connection for work or schoolwork at home, compared with 17 per cent of non-LGBT+ families. And a quarter were unable to access prescription drugs or experienced a delay, compared to just eight per cent of straight people.

“It’s clear that the COVID-19 has amplified and exacerbated disparities that existed before the pandemic,” concluded Logan Casey, policy researcher at MAP.

“LGBT+ people were more likely to struggle with economic stability and have challenges with access to health care prior to COVID, and that’s even more true now.

“The existing patchwork of legal protections is insufficient, which is why we need a nationwide law like the Equality Act so that LGBTQ people in every community are protected from discrimination.”






New Study Looks at Experience of Pregnancy Loss Among Trans/Masculine and Nonbinary People

New Study Looks at Experience of Pregnancy Loss Among Trans/Masculine

A new, peer-reviewed study looks at the experiences of trans/masculine and nonbinary people who were gestating but experienced pregnancy loss.

Flower on Gray

Men, trans/masculine, and non-binary people’s experiences of pregnancy loss: an international qualitative study,” by Damien W. Riggs, Ruth Pearce, Carla A. Pfeffer, Sally Hines, Francis Ray White, and Elisabetta Ruspini, was published Monday in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, and is the first empirical paper to come out of the broader Leeds University project, “Trans Pregnancy: An International Exploration of Transmasculine Practices and Experiences of Reproduction,” according to a tweet by Riggs. Although growing numbers of men, trans/masculine, and nonbinary people are becoming gestational parents, the researchers say, “very little is known about experiences of pregnancy loss among this diverse population.”

For their study, the researchers recruited a convenience sample of 16 participants, ages 23 to 49, who had experienced a pregnancy loss. Six of the participants had experienced more than one; 15 had experienced a live birth either prior to or following a pregnancy loss. The researchers then conducted interviews averaging 100 minutes, asking a general question about experiences of undertaking a pregnancy and specific follow-up questions about pregnancy loss.

While the experiences of the participants bore some similarities to those of cisgender men and women who had experienced pregnancy loss, there were also some points of difference, the study found, including “the importance of inclusive healthcare (i.e., asking about pronouns, refusing to accept misgendering within healthcare systems), the specific meanings that trans/masculine and non-binary people may bring to the experience of pregnancy loss (i.e., in regards to concerns about testosterone and pregnancy), and the ways in which marginalisation may negatively impact on available support (i.e., in terms of unsupportive family members).”

Another distinctive finding was that participants “spoke about pregnancy loss as distressing, but also as a sign that their bodies were working.” While some participants had been concerned that previous hormone prescriptions might have meant they would not be able to conceive, these concerns “were to a degree allayed by eventually becoming pregnant, even if for some it ended in a pregnancy loss.” Therefore, the researchers suggest:

Clinicians will best meet the needs of trans/masculine and non-binary people who have experienced a pregnancy loss by focusing on the emotions attached both to the loss and to the possible desire to attempt another pregnancy, rather than focusing on pregnancy loss as a means to infer that trans/masculine, non-binary and men’s bodies should not be pregnant.

To many of us who know trans/masculine and nonbinary people who have been pregnant, that may seem obvious—but as with much of the research about LGBTQ parents and youth, sometimes it’s useful to have research to support the obvious. It can help guide clinical practice, among other things. The researchers advise, for example, that hospital staff and those providing grief counselling for pregnancy loss should receive training specific to this population:

This should include a focus on the importance of asking about pronouns, advocating for system change in terms of ensuring that names, pronouns and gender can be correctly recorded, and ensuring that medical experiences following a pregnancy loss do not further compound the potential grief experienced by men, trans/masculine, and non-binary people and their partners.

This paper feels like a good step towards helping people of all genders get the reproductive care that they need. The full paper is available free online.

Bonus note: Cited in the paper is Christa Craven’s Reproductive Losses: Challenges to LGBTQ Family-Making (Routledge, 2019), which takes a wider look at gestational or adoption loss across the LGBTQ spectrum. I reviewed it here.

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program that provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)

Take Part in New Study on Pregnant and Postpartum LGBTQ+ People

Take Part in New Study on Pregnant and Postpartum LGBTQ+

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 and Trans PREG

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).