The author and her wife. Photo courtesy of Jasmine Banks
Just when you’re minding your own business, a stranger makes eye contact with you and your wife at Target. That feeling of knowing washes over you. You’ve been here before.
This stranger has so many questions on the tip of their tongue. You try to start an awkward conversation with your wife, hoping to signal to the stranger that “No, I don’t want to talk to you.”
It’s too late.
The stranger has spotted the newborn strapped to you, smiles and launches into their questions. “OMG! How old is your baby?!” What follows is often an inordinate amount of intrusive questions ranging from awkward to prejudiced.
"Do you feel like the baby is really yours?"
Often folks turn to the non-birthing partner and inquire about attachment. They want to know if the non-birthing partner feels as though the child is really their child. Which is strange because no one asks men this question. Also, what about adoption? Attachment and love isn’t dependent on birth. So let's skip this question, thanks.
"Soooo… How did THIS happen?"
Let's be clear: When you ask this question, remember that you are inquiring about things that happen with folks genitals and reproductive organs. Direct deposit? Unknown donor? All questions about conception coming from strangers are inappropriate and gross.
"Who's the real mom/dad?"
Not all children are born from cisgendered heterosexual parents. This question invalidates families that use surrogates, are non-binary or transgender or didn’t provide genetic material to their new baby.
There are plenty of heterosexual couples where the father of the child is not the biological father. This question is another example of the ways in which queer people are counted as less than and subjected to intrusive curiosity.
"So how did you decide who’d get pregnant?"
You never know the struggles that couples may have had in deciding who would carry a pregnancy. You may be breeching a conversation that could involve issues with body and gender dysphoria, fertility issues or a myriad of other issues that no one wants to discuss with strangers.
"Which one of you is the father figure?"
Neither of us are and please never ask queer folks this question. There is no dad or husband in this scenario. We are queer, folks. Also, SURPRISE it is 2018 and children are born into all sorts of families. Two dads, two moms, no dad or no mom is pretty typical.
Queer families already deal with a disproportionate amount of stigma, harassment and oppression. Help make their lives easier by avoiding these intrusive and awkward conversation openers and maybe just offer a nice espresso or to hold our baby while we take a nap.