UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Gender identity and in/fertility Walks, Michelle


Pregnancy is considered a feminine experience in mainstream Canadian culture. Babies identified as female at birth are expected to grow up to become feminine heterosexual mothers. This research considers the desires, choices, and experiences of individuals who were identified as female at birth, but who do not identify as feminine heterosexual women; this dissertation focuses on the reproductive desires, choices, and experiences of butch lesbians, transmen, and genderqueer individuals in British Columbia. Three methods and two distinct populations formed this research. Participant observation was conducted in 21 cities across southern BC. Questionnaires were completed by 28 health care professionals (HCPs), and by 46 butch lesbian, transmen, and genderqueer (BTQ) individuals. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 10 HCPs, 8 BTQ individuals who had experienced at least one successful pregnancy, and 4 BTQ individuals who had either experienced or been diagnosed with a condition linked to infertility. What I found, is that for many BTQ individuals, reproduction associated with the female body (ie: pregnancy and breastfeeding) is not exclusively considered a feminine desire or experience. In fact, what I discovered is that BTQ individuals who experience pregnancy and breastfeeding explicitly challenge the cultural fetish associating femininity with reproduction (including pregnancy, breastfeeding, mothering, and fertility). Thus, I highlight not only the typically ignored desire and achievement of pregnancy of BTQ individuals, but also how BTQ individuals have experienced breastfeeding, how some BTQ parents raise queerlings, and how some BTQ individuals have negotiated diagnoses and experiences of infertility. Overall, I highlight the unique and various expectations and experiences that butch lesbians, transmen, and genderqueer individuals have regarding their ‘female’ (and potential) biological reproduction. In the end, I hope that by presenting the diverse reproductive experiences, desires, and choices of BTQ individuals, that I can foster more of an understanding of these experiences, desires, choices, and individuals, and thus challenge the cultural fetish that links femininity with ‘female’-associated reproduction. Moreover, I offer recommendations for health care professionals in an effort to foster more understanding in BTQ health care, as well as help to facilitate more queer competent health care professionals.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported