What motivated you to write a book(s) that is specifically inclusive of LGBTQ families/issues?
I wanted to share my experience with other LGBTQ people, and with allies who wanted to be affirming but maybe didn’t quite know how to do that. As an openly transgender person going through my first pregnancy, I felt lucky to have some good support from family and friends, yet I struggled to find someone to talk with who truly understood me. My therapist was well versed in the complexities of pregnancy and parenting, but didn’t have much knowledge of transgender identities. Friends and colleagues eagerly shared their advice about mothering and labelled me as a mother even though they had previously accepted my masculinity when I transitioned.
I started blogging in 2011 about six months after my son was born, and it was through my blog that I made my first connections online to other transgender parents. Trans people considering pregnancy or breastfeeding emailed me with questions about what the process was like for me, how I navigated the medical system, and where I found resources and support. At the time, there was no online forum for transgender parents to share information, so I started one.
My book, “Where’s the Mother”, fills a gap in the parenting literature. No other title considers transgender identity, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and human milk as main subjects together.
What do you personally feel makes a family?
My family where I live is small. My husband and I are on our own in Manitoba with our two kids. In one sense, our family is just the four of us, but in a broader way, I think family are the ones who will show up for you. For instance, when I had a miscarriage, I asked my mom to come, and she did. She is family in the typical genetic sense, but she also got on a plane and showed up. I know that for some LGBTQ people, those things are not always the same. To me, real family are the people who you know will be there when you need them, regardless of whether you are related.
What does “equality” look like to you?
To come closer to achieving true equality in our society, we need to actively include marginalized voices. Enshrining basic human rights and non-discrimination in law is essential, but we need to work in other areas as well. Equality is not a passive state. Rather, it is the work of constantly asking ourselves about our own privileges and biases when we have them, of making our truths be heard, and of uplifting the diverse stories of others.
Whose books do you admire and why?
I love the work of Miriam Toews, a Canadian author who grew up in a town very close to where I currently live. Toews has set several of her books in rural, religious communities similar to that of her hometown. She tackles big questions about gender roles while telling compelling and well-crafted stories.
What’s coming up next for you?
I am finishing up a research project about transmasculine experiences of pregnancy, birth, and infant feeding. In 2013, I brought together a team of academics and clinicians to explore this topic, and the team was awarded an operating grant by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. I interviewed 22 transmasculine individuals about their experiences. We are now in the final stages of writing and publishing academic papers based on this work. I will post updates about the project and its publications on my blog, www.milkjunkies.net.
Trevor MacDonald is a transgender man from Manitoba who birthed both his children at home and breastfeeds. He is the author of Where’s the Mother: Stories from a Transgender Dad (http://www.amazon.com/Wheres-Mother-Stories-Transgender-Dad/dp/0991964500/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1460940593&sr=8-1&keywords=where%27s+the+mother+transgender). Trevor initiated and helped to design and analyze a University of Ottawa study focusing on the experiences of transmasculine individuals with pregnancy, birth, and infant feeding. The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research – Institute of Gender and Health. Trevor blogs at milkjunkies.net. He runs a support group on Facebook called Birthing and Breast or Chestfeeding Trans People and Allies.