Queer parenting in an anti-queer world
Children can provide a source of novelty to everyday life, allowing you to rediscover life through the
lens of curiosity and learning, a bit like time traveling back to who we each used to be.
I want children. I’m not sure of the circumstances of their arrival, but I feel pretty attached to taking on the identity of being a dad. Speaking to my queer peers about it, I quickly realized that the sentiment was not shared. In fact, there were a multitude of oppositions, making me wonder: how what is the consensus around queer parenting?
These answers are purposely anonymous, which is why direct quote usage will be limited.
“In this cruel world?”
The widespread opinion among the young queer folks I asked seems to be against having kids. The exploration of the reasons is what led to interesting discussion: some are consistent with cisheteronorms such as the desire to maintain a sense of freedom, wanting to ensure a satisfying financial future or simply feeling beyond the age of raising a child. There were also arguments invoking the ever-growing number of humans on the planet, and refusing to contribute to our collective impact onto the planet’s well-being.
The arguments that led to interesting discussions were queer-centered. Money was an obvious reason: as both the economic wealth gap deepens, with queer people being disproportionally represented in lower incomes, and the cost of living rises globally, financial security is an obvious concern. Cisheteronormative dyads show a trend associated between poverty and childbearing for a myriad of reasons (poor sexual education, poor sexual healthcare, etc.), reinforcing a cycle of poverty overtime. This notion, seemingly understood by queer folks, is fought by the voluntarily abstaining of raising children. In this argument, the inability to survive as it is motivates the reluctance.
Another trend in answers skewered towards a concern for the quality of life of the child, considering the would-be parents’ current situation. The main considerations were mental health status of the would-be parents and histories of abuse. Due to queer folks’ sensibility of the power of stigma, neglect and abuse, due to systemic discrimination, it seemed personally important to some to “break the cycle”. To be honest enough to admit that parenting would be too heavy of a task. To be vulnerable enough to admit that a child would suffer in this environment.
“In this cruel world?” Someone answered my question. And they weren’t the only one. Several didn’t judge the current state of the world as conducive to welcome a child. This was particularly present among trans people, a population facing legislative erasure in vital aspects of life, such as healthcare, security, employment and housing. If the parents are stigmatized, so will the children. And beyond that, they feared for their children’s freedom later on: what if they’re a woman? Queer? Poor? In a world that isn’t shaping into a promising one for them.
“Is it selfish?”
Only a minority of folks I spoke to expressed wanting kids, but a present minority nonetheless. A couple viewed their history of alienation as an opportunity to create a family according to their values: one based on love and acceptance. One mentioned that as a person who has lost their entire family, this was the only chance to keep a semblance of a family together.
But, many conditions were laid out as absolutes. Under what circumstances are you willing to take on a child? Some mentioned explicit criterion of quality of life necessary to welcome such a transition. Others emphasized the need to take in children that were without families, by adopting and fostering. A few specified the satisfaction of helping older children in the foster system find a stable home.
One person described the desire to parent, to nurture, to accompany a new life into the world with great passion just to finish it with “is it selfish?” And that seemed to be the underlying fear of many of those thinking of a kid. They had considered all of the non-practical aspects of parenting, and were deeply aware of risk and gamble on the quality of life they’d be providing. But the sentimental value of experiencing parenthood was stronger.
This question brought up so many stories linked to personal histories, conceptions of families and meaning in life. It was to be expected; it is such a deeply intimate choice to make in life. As I heard the answers, I started to realize that the reasons behind the choice are unmoving: no one was going to change how they felt about the topic, based on sound arguments. Maybe it’s a subject that is just too personal to budge on.