onsdag 30 mars 2011

Lesbian vs Hetero families

My wife has blogged yet again;

I've been thinking about the difference of lesbian and hetero families lately.

Wifey and I have quite the set up for our pregnancy. We just happen to live in the same neighbourhood as the only lesbian maternity care in Sweden. We just happen to be able to chose a lesbian midwife. We happen to be able to enroll in a lesbian parenting group and a Rainbow project at the hospital where we will birth. No one will ask if wifey is my sister when we show up to birth our baby (like they did when we were at the ER last year). Still with all these Rainbow projects here and there, I've found it hard for people to call her my Wife. Even when I make a point of saying; "yes you mean my WIFE wifey?" when the staff says; "your PARTNER wifey", people still go back to calling her PARTNER 2 sentences later.
Hello, we have joined the 21 st century and have geneder neutral marriages now, please keep up people! Really, how hard can it be?

Something else that bothers me is the constant use of the word PARTNER as a replacement for the word DAD.
I mean, yes, wifey is my partner, just as the straight folks husbands/boyfriends are their partners.

But wifey will not "become my partner" when Baby is born. Wifey is a female parent to our child. Female parents are called MOTHERS, not partners.
Still you are referred to as "mother and father" or "mother and PARTNER" in lectures, books and conversations with hospital staff. E.g. "the father/partner can cut the umbilical cord".
On the new-born pictures (in the hospital with the Rainbow project) it says, Mother:name, Father:name. Or Mother:name, Partner:name.

How difficult can it be? If it is so terribly cognitive challenging and confusing to talk about 2 mothers; use some defining term then; bio-mother, birth-mother, the other-mother.
But please, don't use language to constantly belittle and strip wifey of her role as a mother to our child.

I tried to bring this up in Rainbow parenting group, but didn't get much response. One of the other lesbian mothers said, with a tired voice; "well, atleast you are referred to as a partner now a days".

I found I get a much stronger response from people in heterosexual relationships when I bring up things like this. (Or perhaps it's just that I have such excellent friends and co-workers that get my point? )
I mean, what straight person would imagine ADOPTING your own child? Or being referred to as a PARTNER to the mother instead of a parent, since you didn't give birth to your child?

I think this outside impact of more or less ignoring the parenting role of the non-birth mom makes the dynamics in a lesbian family a bit different.

We talked to our midwife about this. How many of the lesbian families she meets are treated by others. The couples who take turns in having a child where the pregnant mother gets to hear; "Oh, how wonderful for you to finally become a Mother". While the woman in question have a 4 yr old at home (that her spouse gave birth to)and has been a mother for years.

Or the constant fear within the relationship that the non-bio mom will feel left out.

I thought of how much wifey and I have shared through this process. Every step. I don't think it's only the "lesbian urge to merge".
I think it's a protective strategy that straight people don't have to bother with. If wifey could have gotten me pregnant and the child was biologically hers, she would have an entirely different claim on the child and parenting role.
As it is now, she won't be a legal parent to our child until the social services allows her to adopt Baby.

It is not lack of trust that makes wifey say with a small voice; "promise to never take Baby from me", when we are half asleep at night.

It is lack of legal rights and and lack of validation from society at large and from individuals we meet, that she is and always will be the Mother of Baby.

It creeps in and gets to you.

It makes us both sensitive. I makes us attentive. It made wifey feel left out when I ran down to our midwife to get a quick blood-test for my iron levels and didn't have time to call her first.
It made it impossible to take a pregnancy test on your own, as custom in heteroville (at least according to the movies). I had wifey read the test. It was better for my nerves anyway, so I'm not complaining. It was just totally out of the question that I would take a pregnancy test on my own and later tell her the results.

At first I was so sensitive to wifey feeling left out I didn't know how to tell her that skin to skin contact with the newborn for the 1st hr makes breastfeeding more successful according to research.
I told her in some half-hysterical way, she got scared she would not be allowed to hold her own child and we had quite the argument over it.

I think we've grown so much during this process.

We are no longer one of the couples afraid of the birth mom breastfeeding and the other mother not being able to bond with the baby because of it. I think wifey will have plenty of bonding time with baby even if she's not the one nursing. We have no need to split everything 50/50 so no one will feel left out.

I am sure we will not fight over who will get to change the next stinky diaper after a while.

Lesbian families have the highest divorce rate of all couples. When it was brought up in parenting group it was from an individual perspective; that women expect more of eachother; more understanding, more support, more comittment than women in straight relationships expect from their male partners.
Yes, that might be one way to look at it.

But from what I understand having a baby is hard on any relationship; and a lot of straight couples also part ways during the toddler years.
And for a lesbian family add the stress of;
* Even becoming pregnant in the first place, chosing a donor, the planning, waiting, financial stress, fertility tests, perhaps hormone treatments, etc, etc, etc
* Not being recognized as parents by society or in day-to-day interaction with the world
* The stress of going through an entire adoption process once the baby has arrived.

I mean, really, no matter what we expect of each other, that is a bit much for any one to deal with. Add the working full time (for atleast one of the mothers), being sleep deprived and handle a new tiny being entirely dependent on you for it's survival.

So what do we have when we have; no legal rights, no understanding, no support, structural discrimination from this society we live in, contribute to and pay taxes to?
We have our triangle of love. Wifey, Baby and I. Connected as One.
Love makes a Family.

onsdag 16 februari 2011

Discrimination in Sweden 2011

This is from my wife's blog:

Our child, as in mine and wifeys, only have one parent.
How can that be, you might ask?
You are married?
You created this child together?
You did all the planning, saving, driving, paying, not to mention went on all the emotional roller coasters together?
Wifey feeling a connection to the donor was more important than any input I might have had. We did all the research together. She did all the hoping and wishing. I did all the obsessing and crying. She was certain of Baby even when I had lost faith. When I was nauseaus all those months she carried all the bags, cleaned the house, did all the dishes, cooked all the food, coaxed me into eating, sleeping, calming down; all for Baby. Wifey's gentle hands and voice has been with Baby since the moment of conception.
"Hold your hand over her uterus" the midwife said during the IUI. Wifey's hand held Baby even as she was just a dream, swimming madly among a million others.

No one knows Baby better than wifey does. No one knows me better than wifey does. No one knows wifey better than me and Baby. Wifey and I are not two anymore. We are three. Baby knocks around when we are close to let us know she's with us. We are not alone. We are all connected.

But legally, in this country, if anything should happen to me, Baby is not wifey's. Wifey has no legal right to Baby. Baby has no legal right to her Mother.
The hands that strokes Baby and calms her, the voice that sings to her, the heartbeats she hears in her sleep when wifey is resting by my bump, means nothing to the legal system.

After baby is born we can APPLY for wifey to adopt Baby. Adopt her own child? Strange, don't you think? And surely the rules are the same for everyone having a child by a donor?
Had we been a straight, married couple, going through the same process, wifey would have automatically been a parent to the child born within our marriage.
There is no need for a straight man to adopt the donor child his wife is carrying. The law is on their side.

The social services will INVESTIGATE us, to see if wifey is a fit mother to Baby. A friend of a friend who went through the same process had some woman from the social services going through their entire house, including checking the bathroom drain for hair.
Because, of course, if you forgot to clear out the shower drain after having a new baby, you are an unfit parent.

This process can take up to 6 months. During this period, should I drop dead, baby will have no legal parent. She will be Nobody's Baby.

"I've searched the holy books
I tried to unravel the mystery of Jesus Christ, the saviour
I've read the poets and the analysts
Searched through the books on human behaviour
I travelled this world around
For an answer that refused to be found
I don't know why and I don't know how
But she's nobody's baby now

... there are some things love won't allow
I held her hand, but I don't hold it now
I don't know why and I don't know how
But she's nobody's baby now" - Nick Cave

tisdag 28 april 2009

Insemination for lesbians is not on same terms as heterosexuals

Suzanne Wikström writes on QX.se about insemination for lesbians in Sweden.

Apparently insemination is on different terms if you're a lesbian couple as opposed to a heterosexual couple. As a lesbian couple you have to pay more or you don't get offered as many tries.

In Östergötland a lesbian couple is offered two tries at 3,000 SEK a pop. A heterosexual couple only pay 250 SEK a pop and there is no limitation to how many times they can try it.

Lesbian couples in Västernorrland, Västerbotten and Jämtland first have to pay out of pocket for three attempts at a private practice - about 8,000 SEK a pop. If those fail, then they can get help from our socialized medical programs with IVF.

These rules and regulations that the government has in place for who gets what kind of treatments based on sexuality is nothing but discrimination. The rules are made by heterosexuals in a heteronormative society. What about the people who don't fit into that mold? We have to be richer and more patient than the heterosexual couple next door?


måndag 13 april 2009

What is up with Amazon?

An author by the name of Mark Probst sells his books via Amazon.com. A few days ago he noticed that the sales ranking disappeared from newly released high-profile gay romance books. The day after that hundreds of gay/lesbian books lost their sales ranking - including his own book. Nobody could understand what was happening. Was there a glitch in the system? Or was Amazon doing this on purpose? Were they trying to control the visibility of gay/lesbian literature?

Mark decided to contact Amazon. Since he is also a publisher, it was easier for him to get a reply from the site. This is the answer he received:

"In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

Hence, if you have further questions, kindly write back to us.

Best regards,

Ashlyn D

Member Services

Amazon.com Advantage"

So Amazon admitted they were stripping sales ranking indicators for what they decided is "adult" material. Strangely enough, other "adult" literature is still being ranked... They are purposely targeting gay/lesbian books.

Books like "Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds" still have a ranking but not "Brokeback Mountain" by Annie Prolux? Blatant discrimination, I say.

Shame on you, Amazon!!

lördag 14 mars 2009

Look who's talking

The Mormons and Latter Day Saints poured money into the campaign "Yes on Prop 8" in California. The Mormons wanted to ban same-sex marriage and, unfortunately, they were successful. It should come as no surprise that their view on homosexuality is.... let's say, archaic. An excerpt from a Mormon pamphlet (2002) states: "Homosexuality Is Sin: Next to the crime of murder comes the sin of sexual impurity." Nor should it come as a surprise that they think that homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle, that it's immoral and sinful to engage in "homosexual conduct", that homosexuality is a cause of bad parenting - particularly an overbearing mother or an absent father and that homosexuality can be cured with therapy, repentance and prayer.

Let's take a look at the Mormons and their conduct, shall we?

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, one of the largest Mormon fundamentalist denominations, practices polygamy. Warren Jeffs, the leader, inherited his leadership from his father - Rulon Jeffs - who had 75 wives and 65 children at the time of his death in 2002. Warren did not only inherit the leadership, but also the wives. As a leader, he was the only one with privilege to perform marriages and the person responsible for "assigning" wives to husbands. It was common to "assign" girls under the age of 16 to men over the age of 65. The church owns all the property in the area where its members reside, as well as the children born into the congregation.

Warren Jeffs was arrested in Nevada in 2006 and charged with sexual conduct with minors, incest, rape as an accomplice. He has also been accused of raping young boys while still in Utah. He is serving ten years to life right now.

In the spring of 2008, local authorities in Texas raided the LDS compound and reportedly took into legal custody more than 400 children and 133 women deemed to have been harmed or in imminent danger of harm. A number of the teenage girls were pregnant at the time. The authorities discovered that the underage girls who were forced into marriage were required to immediately consummate their marriage in a bed inside the soaring limestone temple.

Can you believe these people think of me as an abomination?

Let's take a look at that pamphlet again... "Next to the crime of murder comes the sin of sexual impurity." Yeah, I'd have to say I agree with that. Except "sexual impurity" in this case is their way of using a cult to brainwash women and girls to succumb to the sexual fantasies of dirty, old men. They use the veil of religion to justify rape, incest and more.

Do you think they can be cured with therapy, repentance and prayer?

måndag 9 mars 2009

Jerrie Cobb - a pioneer

In the spirit of the international women's day that just passed I wanted to tell you about Jerrie Cobb.

"Who?", you ask.

Jerrie Cobb.

Her name could have been a household name and rolled off everyone's tounge as easily as Neil Armstrong or John Glenn.

She could have been - and
should have been - the first woman in space.

I learned about Jerrie by accident. I've always considered myself a "space nerd", and by that I mean that I can not only tell you that Neil Armstrong was the fist man on the moon but that the other two members of the Apollo 11 mission were Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins. Or that Alan Shepard not only was the first American in space and the fifth man on the moon but also that he was the first one to hit a golf ball on the moon. Or that the Apollo-missions would not have been possible at all had it not been for the Mercury and Gemini missions.

One day I ended up on NASA's website where you can test all your knowledge about everything NASA. "Easy as pie", I thought and took a quiz. I think it was question number three that was life-changing.

"Who was the first woman in space?"

I was flabbergasted. How could I never have considered women in space? Why didn't her name roll off my tongue as easily as Shepard, Glenn, Grissom and Armstrong? I then became fascinated with my own lack of knowledge about women in space and started reading and researching the subject. I soon found Jerrie. I read the two books she wrote in the 60's and have since then met her in person.

In a time when women were supposed to be housewives, teachers or nurses Jerrie became a pilot at the age of 16. By 18 she was a flight instructor and at 21 she delivered planes all over South America for the Air Force. She worked as a test pilot and few higher, further and faster than anyone else. During the 50's she broke three world records - in speed, altitude and distance. By 1960 she had logged over 10,000 flight hours - compared to John Glenn's 5,000.

Jerrie met Dr. Lovelace and General Flickinger who trained and tested the first American astronauts - The Mercury astronauts. Lovelace and Flickinger were fascinated by Jerrie and offered her to take the same tests and undergo the same training as the male astronauts. She passed with flying colors. She helped pick out more women to test and after another 12 passed the tests (they came to be known as Mercury 13) she had high hopes for an official training program for women astronauts.

After a conference in Stockholm, Sweden in August of 1960 where Lovelace introduced the results of Jerrie's training, everyone thought that she would be the first woman in space. She was in the limelight for quite some time but she was never allowed to become an astronaut. It went so far as a Congressional hearing to see if NASA was discriminating women. This hearing took place two years before the Civil Rights movement which made discrimination illegal. Despite that the hearing seemed to go in favor of the women, nothing happened.

June 16, 1963 Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. It would take more than 20 years before the first American woman got into space - Sally Ride, June 18, 1983. Eileen Collins became the first female shuttle pilot and the first female Commander of a mission in 1999. She realized the importance of Jerrie's struggle and invited her to the launch.

Jerrie still works as a pilot. She flies a plane every day - at the age of 77 - but she still dreams of becoming an astronaut. "I would give my life to fly in space", she says. "I would have then. I would now. This is something I would give my life for. It wouldn't be contingent on my coming back. I would go if it was just a one-way trip. I would go if I knew I wasn't coming back."

fredag 6 mars 2009


Tonight I saw a movie I have been wanting to see for months - "Milk". I knew the film would touch my heart in many ways. I knew it would be bittersweet to see the familiar streets, landmarks and intersections of San Francisco. A part of me will always belong there - on the corner of Castro and Market. I knew it would be an honor to see my friends names in the end crawl and I am so proud to be able to say I know people who help make this film what it is. I knew the depiction of Harvey and his life would touch my heart - yet again.

It's 1978 in San Francisco, CA. Senator Briggs and Anita Bryant are trying to get all homosexual teachers fired, along with anyone who supports homosexual teachers - a proposition known as Prop 6.

30 years ago, GLBT-people had no civil rights. We could be fired from our jobs, denied housing and be murdered for just walking down the street. 30 years ago, in Sweden, homosexuality was still classified as a mental illness.

30 years ago, Harvey Milk wanted to make a change. And he did. Prop 6 did not pass. Instead, more people than ever before came out to their friends and families and homosexuals became more visible than ever before.

A lot has happened in 30 years and yet we still don't have the same fundamental rights as everyone else. We have the same obligations and responsibilities, but not the same rights. Isn't it about time?

We can learn from "Milk". It reminds us of what generations before us have done to pave the way. It can inspire us to move on and take the next necessary steps. Together we are strong. Together we can do it.

My name is Tess Lindberg and I am here to recruit you...