Pregnant Men and the (trans)Formation of Parenting Cultures

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Sally HINES, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
Francis Ray WHITE, University of Westminster, United Kingdom
Carla PFEFFER, University of South Carolina, USA
Damien RIGGS, Flinders University, Australia
Elisabetta RUSPINI, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy
Ruth PEARCE, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
Changing social and cultural attitudes about gender and sexual diversity, and legal advances around sexuality and parenting, have enabled the recognition of same-sex and gender diverse partnerships, and allowed more equal access to fostering, adoption and assisted reproductive technology in many countries in the West. Moreover, over the last decade, same-sex parenting practices have received increasing social and cultural visibility, and lesbian and gay parenting has emerged as a central site of enquiry within sociological studies of gender, sexuality, intimacy, kinship and personal life. Transgender practices of parenting, however, have received much less attention. Trans male pregnancy shows how shifts in gendered and intimate practices occur within changing social institutions and cultural understandings. Vice versa, such social and cultural transformations impact on how individuals live their gendered, and intimate lives.

Drawing on initial data from an on-going qualitative research project funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC): ‘Pregnant Men: An International Exploration of Trans Male Practices of Reproduction’, this paper considers the ways in which trans male practices of pregnancy and birth bring new meanings to the gendered nature of parenting. Using case studies from in-depth interviews with trans men who have become pregnant and given birth after gender transition, the paper explores how issues surrounding parenting identity are experienced through pregnancy and birth, and how the gendering of parental roles are later negotiated. The paper will conclude that in problematizing traditional notions of motherhood and fatherhood, trans male practices of reproduction bring significant transformations to cultures of parenting, which demand renewed reflections on issues of power and justice as they pertain to intimate and family life.