As a toLabor trained birth doula, I only recently started listening to the toRaise Doula Podcast, produced by the executive director of the organization, Thérèse Hak-Kuhn, and Richmond Virginia doula, Melanie Headley. Thérèse was actually the woman who facilitated my training in 2010, and hearing her voice brings me right back to my first intensive exposure to birth work! In listening to the recent episodes of the podcast, I realized Thérèse often uses gender neutral language when speaking broadly about pregnancy. She has extensive experiences in working with families, mothers and women in labor, but I wanted to send her a note of appreciation for not excluding everybody else in her choice of language.
Much to my surprise, she wrote back immediately to let me know she was planning on a podcast focused on supporting the LGBTQ community, and admitted she was actively working to be a better ally. She invited me to be on the show to talk about my experience being a queer doula, and to talk about how doulas can best support queer families.
Check out my interview on the August 3rd episode of the toRaise questions doula podcast, #83 How To Support the LGBTQ Client, on Stitcher, libsyn or iTunes! Also take a look at the toLabor website, where they’ve posted a list of resources that we talked about in this episode.
In mentioning the “list of midwives and birth workers who are against using gender neutral language,” I wanted to add a few more details. When Midwives of North America (MANA) announced last year that they were adding gender-neutral language to their core competencies documents, a list of birth workers identified as “Woman-Centered Midwifery” (including Ina May Gaskin herself!) wrote an “Open Letter To MANA,” opposing the use of language to include anybody who is not a cisgender woman. I’d link to their letter or website, but it seems to have since gone absent from the internet! Luckily, Birth for Every Body, a community of queer-friendly birth workers quickly organized to write a response to their letter. Snopes has a little article about how this went down, and how the experiences and opinions of the trans community have been completely misunderstood by much of the midwifery community.
There is a great list of gender and queer parenthood related resources on the Birth for Every Body website.