We Are Not All Women: Midwives, Doulas & the Gender of Birth Work

Tucked inside the new issue of SQUAT Birth Journal #5 is my latest article “We Are Not All Women:  Midwives, Doulas & the Gender of Birth Work.”  The article shares the experiences of a transgender midwifery student, and a male midwife who’s been practicing for 30+ years.

The article attempts to challenge our assumptions about the gender identities of birth workers, and to explore the estrogen-rich environment that is the birth world.

Here’s an excerpt from my interview with Kennedy Rollins,* a transgender midwifery student:

“Considering his experience of feeling alienated in the birth community, Kennedy wonders what effect his gender identity will have on his ability to serve birthing families.  “As someone who really wants to prioritize being accessible to people, and being able to be a competent care provider, how am I potentially restricting myself by transitioning?”

There will undoubtedly be families who are not interested in having a transgendered midwife as their care provider.  “I know that I would reach more people if I appeared to be female,” Kennedy admits.  But at the same time, there are also birthing families who embrace gender diversity as an element of the vibrant world around us, or who are themselves gender-non-conforming.  For these families, Kennedy and the handful of other publicly transgender doulas, midwives, and student midwives may be the ideal care providers.”

* A pseudonym has been used in this article to protect the privacy of the person being interviewed.

About these ads

2 responses to “We Are Not All Women: Midwives, Doulas & the Gender of Birth Work

  1. As a transmale who has decided to not do hormones or surgery, and who has decided to become pregnant, I am experiencing a huge amount of anxiety and fear when I think of having to ask for help during my pregnancy. I am afraid of being misgendered or having my gender invalidated because ‘pregnancy is a feminine experience’. I, for one, would be deliriously happy to see more trans* and male and genderqueer midwives. It would make me feel so much safer, and far less likely to think that it’s not worth asking for help–which I know is a very dangerous mindset.

    • Honestly I don’t know any trandgender males who would feel ‘safer’ having a cisgender male deliver their child especially when cis men are usually quite close minded to transgender people. This article sounded interesting except for the sexist remarks. To say that the birth world is ‘estrogen-rich’ is totally unrealistic when so many doctors delivering babies are men. To have more trans people become doctors, midwives, and doulas is a wonderful accomplishment especially when trans people have such hard times getting jobs because of our close minded society. But to say that pregnancy is a feminine experience is sexist in and of itself. What would make it feminine or masculine? If by feminine you mean that a women is most commonly the one to do it then say that instead of bringing gender and sexism into it. pregnancy is long, hard, and painful; ‘feminine’ people would not be able to handle pregnancy and childbirth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s