Baby T. Rex is Due August 20th!

Hey folks,

We know we’ve been on hiatus for a while now. But we did need to tell you, if you haven’t caught the news on Autostraddle or Instagram yet, that we’re pregnant! More specifically, Kae is pregnant and we’re both excited!

KaeLyn is going to blogging about it for Autostraddle in a miniseries called “Countdown to Baby T. Rex.” Follow her thoughts, feelings, and snark there! If you want to find our why the name is “Baby T. Rex,” head over to Autostraddle for the first installment: “Crying Over Masterchef Junior and Halfway There (23 Weeks.”

Some other queer baby stuff you may have missed:

Gayby Maybe? The Epic Queer Parenting Roundtable! – foster adoption, adoption adoption, IUI, feelings, heartbreaks, and more from queer parents and parents-to-be

Caitlin’s Pregnancy Stories for Autostraddle – Caitlin’s thoughts on loss, miscarriage, birth, joy, and pregnancy

Queer Mama Video Blog for Autostraddle and the birth of Juniper Jude – Haley and Simone’s journey from pre-conception to parents!

Thanks for reading and following our blog, as always, and wish us luck!

❤ KaeLyn & Waffle

What’s in a (gender neutral) name?

Male and female symbols with the words "boy" and "girl" inside the symbols.

Choosing a name for your kid is a kind of a big deal. We are both the oldest siblings of our families. Maybe that’s why we get along.

W is the oldest of three. His younger sisters both have names that are gender-neutral-friendly. His youngest sister’s name could be masculine or feminine, depending on how you spell it. His other sister’s name is easily shortened to a gender neutral version. Both W’s sisters are cisgender women and fairly gender-normative in their gender expression. Of course, W is the only one who has a very feminine name. He has one of those names that is just not gender-neutral at all, like Rose or Sarah or Penelope. There is no male name that sounds similar, even. So he has a chosen name that works for him, but mainly goes by his last name, which, as you may have guessed, begins with a “W.” W still uses both his given name and chosen name in different situations, but we both think it’s kind of funny that he is the only one out of three siblings that has a really girly name. Coincidentally, K also has a name that could be gender-neutral or easily modified to be a more masculine name.

Sometimes it’s a problem for W that his name is so feminine, but not for the reason you’d think. Anyone who looks like W, regardless of their gender identity, and has a name like W’s legal name, is going to have some awkward moments. At work, W goes by his legal name, by choice and for convenience. W hasn’t changed his first name or gender legally. He doesn’t feel like that’s something he wants to do right now…possibly ever. W could be out as trans* at work, but it hasn’t been necessary so far and it really doesn’t bother him, because he feels his gender is masculine, but somewhat fluid. He binds and wears men’s clothes at work. He presents as himself full-time, which is a little bit his legal name/identity and a lot of his chosen name/identity and living in that fluid space is comfortable for him.

Now, we should say, that for many trans* people, it is very important and very necessary to change their name and/or gender legally. Many trans* people are very uncomfortable and deeply hurt by being called their given/legal name. That is totally valid. For W, specifically, it just isn’t a big deal. His coworkers usually assume he’s a super butch lesbian and, well, at some point he did identify that way, so he doesn’t really mind.

However, getting a job with a name that doesn’t match your gender expression is another thing. When you show up for a job interview looking like W does, like a preppy 6’1″ dude, things can get awkward…and hurtful…fast. At one interview for a security job at Sears, W showed up for his interview a little early. The hiring person greeted him by his given name, looked at him for just slightly too long, and disappeared for almost an hour. He was left waiting in a hallway. Eventually, the hiring person came back out and told him the position had been miraculously filled and they were no longer hiring. OK… Any gender non-conforming person, whether cis or trans*, can tell you many stories of being treated like a freak. Or being misgendered…one way or another.

So for us, picking a name for our future human that is gender-neutral is pretty important. We don’t have a problem with gendered names and could really care less what people name their kids. But for us, our kid, we want them to have a name that is gender-neutral and unique. As we’ve started talking about names, we have found that even when talking about gender-neutral names, we have different feelings about what would make sense for a kid who is male assigned at birth (a “boy”) or a kid who is female assigned at birth (a “girl”). We like Spencer for a girl (female assigned at birth), but not as much for a boy (male assigned at birth). Those gender things just can’t stay out of our head, though ironically we tend to like names that are more masculine-associated for a girl and vice versa. One name that we just recently decided on, over dinner, that works for any gender, is Remi/Remy (spelling yet-to-be-determined).

We don’t plan to raise our future kid gender-neutral. It’s a nice idea, but it’s just not possible for us. We live in the real world. We want our future kid to live in the real world. They are going to see gender all around them, absorb gender norms whether we like it or not, but we do want them to have options.

We want them to be able to play with green plastic army men, like W did as a kid, or with pound puppies, as K did as a kid. Or, more specifically, we want them to be able to play with both, or whatever interests them. K’s heart will probably break into a million pieces if their future kids wants to be a “pink princess,” regardless of what gender they are assigned at birth, but we want it to truly be their choice.

We want them to be able to make up their mind about their gender expression or their gender identity, or change their mind. If our kid turns out to be gender non-conforming, we want them to have a name that works for their gender expression, whatever that is. Of course, if they want to change their name to match their preferred name and identity, that’s cool with us, but we want to at least try to give them a name that is not hyper-masculine or feminine. So, future kid, as of March 2014, we are calling you “Remi/Remy.” You get to decide what that means for you.

Doing Away With Gendered Parenting Roles

“Two moms are better than one!”

“Moms do it best!”

“He’s a really good dad!”

“Just wait ’til your father gets home!”

As we began exploring what parenting might look like for us, we knew pretty early on that W was going to be just as active and probably slightly more active in raising our future kid. In our Western cultural norms, this means that W, being a dude, is a super-duper amazing dad. Or a Mr. Mom.

Because deep deep down (OK, actually not that deep down), we equate “parenting” with “mommy.” W wants to be a great dad. But he’s not a Mr. Mom. He’s a Mr. Dad.

PROOF: Go to the Parenting website right now. Parenting is the largest magazine for parents in the US market, known for their 3 magazines: Parenting, BabyTalk, and Working Mother. Just go to the regular homepage. Count how many times you see mommy vs. daddy vs. gender-neutral articles. Yup, told ya’ so.

The outdated notion that women are better at parenting is boring, cliché, and simply untrueWhile it may seem like not-a-big-deal, perpetuating the idea that mom=parent is dangerous. There is no biological argument to be made that kids need a mom and a dad, though that is exactly what has been argued in court time and again by anti-same-gender marriage folks. Any person can be a great parent. Or a horrible parent. Any person can be a nurturing parent. Or a stern parent. Or teach their kid to cook. Or to throw a baseball.

This way of thinking is also damaging to single parents. If you need a man and woman, single parents are lacking one half of the ideal parenting structure. The unspoken stereotype is that a single parent is, or should be, someone who is looking to not be single anymore. About 1/4 of U.S. families are headed by single moms and about 6% by single dads. Our system doesn’t do nearly enough to support single parents, making it so that many single parents live in poverty, but the issue with single parenting is not that the person lacks a partner. Some single parents may feel that they would prefer a partner. Some are happy with their families, just the way they are. It makes the stigma even higher for single dads, who are either viewed as super men or as incompetent idiots when it comes to parenting, by nature of their gender. (Also see, man can’t cook/clean stereotypes.)

It is the reason we can’t stop talking about “working women” or ,”Can women have it all?!” As long as women are the ones expected to do most of the housework and parenting, it doesn’t matter if they are also the CEO of a Fortune 500. They truly can’t have it all and not because it is too high of a goal. Because the gendered system is flawed. This is the reason K never saw herself having kids. Because you can’t have it all. So K picked career and community activism and social justice over family. Even now, K is having to think about which boards she will resign from, how many after-work meetings she can rationally commit to each week (since W works nights and someone has to be home). Until parenting is gender neutral, seen as something that anyone has equal skills and responsibility for, and until we really address reforms that make it possible to work AND parent, like, you know, PAID PARENTAL LEAVE, we’ll have to keep reading annoying pseudo-feminist pieces about women “having it all.” Noooooooo!

Lastly, this thinking continues to put gender into a binary system. What about folks who, like W, don’t identify strongly as Man or Woman. Like many people in the transgender community, W doesn’t feel strongly that he is the man of the family, but he definitely isn’t a woman. He is definitely not cisgender. So he leans towards the man box. But just slightly outside of it.And, of course, there are also people who identify as genderqueer or genderfluid. What about them?

One of the discussions we had early on was whether there was another word for “dad” that would be more fitting for W. We found some lesbian dads and queer parents using “Baba,” but we’re not sure if that works for us. There really aren’t widely recognized words yet for parents who fall outside of “mom” or “dad.”

Until we start challenging the notion of gendered parenting roles, all of us, not just queer parents, we will continue to struggle to break free from the weight of socially ingrained parenting stereotypes. First step, change the way we talk about parenting. Celebrate all types of parents and families. Affirm that a good parent can be a parent of any gender or relationship status. Stop saying that kids need “male role models” or “a mom’s love,” even if you have the best intentions. Maybe one day we will be like Sweden and have a gender neutral toy catalog. Until then, keep on keeping on, mamas, papas, babas, and parents of all stripes.

Meet the W

This post is by W.

So, you have met the K and the furkids.  Well, I am the W.  K is the writer and she speaks for the furbabies…much like the Lorax speaks for the trees. She was a writing arts major in college and I don’t write or read often. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully capable of both and I often rant on issues that perturb me on Facebook but it’s just not my jam in general. So why would I do a blog you ask?!? Well (aside from the pleading from K), I think this is an important issue. Not only the idea of parenting and families, but also the lack of resources out there for the T and Q in LGBTQ. After the initial shock when K told me she would be willing to do the baby thing, the first thing I did, like many other people, is to try to find applicable books or websites for me. That was less than successful.  It is great to see all the resources out there for gay and lesbian people. It shows me that the world is changing, but it also exemplifies the problems of inclusively of trans and queer people. So like many queer trans people I picked up a book on lesbian pregnancy  and “adjusted” the language and situations to fit my own. That makes this blog relevant and important for me. There needs to be more K and W stories in the world.

Another reason you have met the adorable furkids before me is simply because, although I love them, they are a bit of an open book. I on the other hand am that book-that-you-want-to-read-but-it-went-out-of-print-several-decades-ago-after-a-limited-print. I grew up in a family that didn’t communicate well or get along much at times. I am shy and guarded and hesitant to open up to people I don’t know. That carried over to my adult life, unfortunately. I get along great with my parents now and they have always accepted me for who I am, but looking back I had what would have been classified now as an abusive childhood. It fundamentally shaped my adult personality.

Continue reading

What is a queer family?

The first blog post is always the…awkwardest. So let’s start with this really basic question: What makes a family queer? What is a queer family?

When we think of LGBT families, we usually think of two moms or two dads. More specifically, we think of two cisgender lesbian moms or two cisgender gay dads. When the acronym “LGBT” is used, the “B” and “T” are often silent. The “Q” isn’t even there. LGBT is often used as a catchall acronym for our communities–it’s pretty common. But LGBT organizations, service agencies, and media outlets often focus primarily on cisgender gay men and lesbian women. That’s also pretty common. There’s nothing wrong with two cis moms or dads and those families could certainly be queer, but these representations are not inclusive of all queer families.

It carries over, we found, into the parenting realm. Parenting resources are already overwhelmingly heteronormative and gender-normative. The specifically LGBT resources that are out there are mainly geared towards gay men and lesbian women. By resources, I mean books, websites, social networks, “mommy” sites. So we decided to join the blogosphere, where there are some awesome LGBTQ* parents out there (see our blogroll) doing awesome stuff. There’s still a lot of room to grow. To my knowledge, there are few resources for parenting as an openly bisexual person. Few resources for parenting as a transgender or gender non-conforming person. For QTPOC (queer trans people of color), for poor queer folks that want to have kids, for anyone that wants to buck the norm of the traditional heteronormative family, there just isn’t much support or advice out there.

But I know queer families are out there. I know more than one seemingly-hetero couple where one or both parents are bisexual. I know single queer parents that are raising awesome kids. I know families where one or both parents are trans*. Some of those trans* parents are stealth. Others are not. I know lots of queer people who want to have kids in the future (and plenty who don’t).
In fact, such a large number that it’s inevitable that more people will eventually start writing and talking about queer parenting.

So what’s makes a queer family? The answer is, I don’t know. Or, rather, I can’t define it for you. People who identify as queer tend to want to be…queer. We don’t want to disappear or blend in. We want to change the systems, not conform to them. We want to check ourselves, check the systematic advantages we have and own our privilege. We want to be inclusive of diverse experiences across race, class, sex, gender. We want to be included in convos we’ve traditionally been left out of. We want to thoughtfully participate in “traditional family” or queer “traditional family” or throw “traditional family” out the window.

A queer family could certainly be a family with or without kids. Queer families can have two moms or two dads. They can have one mom and one dad. They have have one parent. They can have more than two parents. They can also include one or more people who identify as trans* or genderqueer. They can include bisexual, omnisexual, pansexual, polysexual, asexual, or queer people. Queer families have kids by marriage, kids from previous relationships and/or pregnancies. They can add kids through foster care, adoption, surrogacy, sperm donors (both on and off the books), and good old-fashioned P-I-V intercourse. They can include beloved furbabies (our pet children). They can include supportive queer family relationships that came about out of kinship or necessity in place of or in addition to our legal/bio families.

This blog is about our queer family–a queer power femme, pansexual, Korean-American adoptee, vegan, feminist, cisgender woman and a label-wary, fashion-forward, queer, trans* boi. With lots and lots of furkids. Looking to add 1 human kid to the family. We will blog about our baby plans, our furkids, our personal views and lives, social and activist issues pertaining to queer parenting. We will try to raise larger issues about queer parenting and welcome the perspective and feedback of others. We are excited. A little scared. Let’s do this.

– K & W