Ask DadPad, LGBTQ Parents

Ask DadPad: Developments in support for trans and non-binary parents

Posted on 1st April 2022

As it’s Trans Day of Visibility, we thought it was time to update you with what has been going on since we last blogged about this important day last year. In this blog we are sharing updated signposting and resources for Trans and Non-binary parents & parents-to- be, as well as Perinatal care professionals who are committed to inclusive individualised care.

So, what is Trans Day of Visibility?

TDOV takes place on March 31st each year to celebrate trans and non-binary people and raise awareness of discrimination faced by trans people worldwide… there is a lot of pressure on trans and non-binary people to conform, change and prove their gender to others… people, regardless of identity, expression, or orientation, are enough just as they are.

LGBT Foundation

Over the last few years, LGBTQ+ conception, pregnancy and parenthood experiences have been more publicly discussed and researched, highlighting many disparities for LGBTQ+ people in the world today.  One of those disparities relates to accessing health and social care services, including gynaecological, fertility and perinatal services.

What do we know so far?

Trans and non-binary people often report challenges when navigating medical services due to: the inability of  some NHS data systems to record both sex and gender; the gender expectations and language used within some health services; and/or because of the common occurrences of personal misgendering or dead naming (when people use a trans or non-binary person’s previous name) by healthcare professionals.

Additionally, there are also instances where healthcare professionals have not had opportunities for LGBTQ+ competency training and may not have considered that trans and non-binary people may want or need to access their services (e.g. cancer screenings, cervical screenings, gynaecology, fertility and perinatal services).

Making trans and non-binary people explain or ‘out’ themselves, can:

  • have a detrimental effect on their mental health;
  • make them feel unsafe and legally unprotected; and
  • potentially prevent them from accessing vital medical care in the future.

Everyone deserves and has the right to equal access to services and the opportunity to be the happiest and healthiest that they can be, which is why more needs to be done to listen to, highlight and transform trans and non-binary experiences in our society.

So, what’s changed since we last talked about it?

The answer is lots, and it’s still ongoing. For example…

  • Even more trans and non-binary people across the world are sharing their journeys to and experiences of parenthood, using social media. Tik Tok and Instagram have become spaces to share individual experiences and raise awareness of a spectrum of lived experiences, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Look out for hashtags such as #transpregnancy #seahorsedad and #lgbtpregnancy to find those that are using social media to share their experiences.
  • Some of the families who have previously chosen to publicly document their parenthood journeys are expanding their families and continue to champion trans and non-binary parent voices. Freddy McConnell, who featured in the ‘Seahorse’ documentary, has very recently given birth to his second child and continues to write about LGBTQ+ issues. Jake and Hannah Graf, who featured in the documentary ‘Our Baby: A Modern Miracle’, have recently announced their second pregnancy. The couple also continue as patrons of Mermaids UK and seize any opportunity to increase understanding and acceptance of trans folk internationally.
  • In 2021, Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust publicly announced and shared their gender inclusion policy in maternity care, which gives clear guidance to pregnancy care professions on how to care for LGBTQ+ service users. Their Gender Inclusion Team continues to offer specialist care to LGBTQ+ parents and provides support & training to other medical professionals on how to care for LGBTQ+ people appropriately.
  • The Transgender Professional Association for Transgender Health (TPATH) held their first international conference, created by and for transgender people, at the end of July 2021. This interdisciplinary conference was organised with the intention of “creating opportunities for transgender and non-binary professionals engaged in transgender health, rights and activism to share their research and work”.
  • At that inaugural TPATH Conference, Dr Ruth Pearce and Tash Oakes-Monger from NHS England, presented the initial findings from the ITEMS Project (Improving Trans Experiences of Maternity Services) that we highlighted in our previous blog. This research aimed to collect both existing and new evidence to see how pregnancy services can be improved to meet the needs of trans birthing parents. In doing so, they hoped to amplify a diverse range of voices and generate discussions across the public health and charity sectors. We look forward to seeing the full report soon
  • Dr Mari Greenfield – a postdoctoral academic researcher in maternity care, as well as being a doula and birth activist – has brought together for the first time academic and medical research about LGBTQ+ people’s experiences of conception, pregnancy, birth, and the postnatal period in the form of a podcast. “In each episode of Pride in Birth, Mari talks to different researchers, finding out what question about LGBTQ+ pregnancy they were asking, how they went about finding answers, and what they discovered. Guests include professors, obstetricians, midwives, psychiatrists and academic researchers. The podcast explains some of the issues LGBTQ+ people face when they start a family, helping to reduce isolation amongst LGBT+ new and expectant parents, and aiming to help those caring for them to improve the services they provide.”
  • AJ Silver of the Queer Birth Club continues to offer comprehensive LGBTQ+ competency workshops for anyone involved in or supporting the perinatal care of LGBTQ+ people, and recently launched new a new lactation competency workshop, too. AJ has also written a book, which will be published later this month and which focuses on “[b]ringing together the stories and experiences of LGBT+ parents as well as professionals in the field…. [and] explains what healthcare and birth workers can do to improve care for their clients.”

What are DadPad doing to help?

A while ago we published a blog post which attempted to explain why the DadPad is written exclusively for male partners of female birthing parents. At the same time, we also recognised and acknowledged that this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other parent demographics out there who also need additional support.

Because we do appreciate this, and because we also recognise that we can’t simply rebrand DadPad as (say) a ParentPad and make it instantly useful to all, we’ve spent the last two years working to draft a brand new resource, specifically for non-birthing partners who don’t fit the demographic for our original DadPad products.  We’ve done this in collaboration with a whole range of experts, including: LGBTQ+ parents, birth workers, and medical professionals; birth workers and medical professionals with experience of supporting LGBTQ+ families; and commissioners with an interest in inequalities, diversity and inclusion (especially within perinatal services)  We’re looking forward to this resource – the Co-PartnerPad – finally being available later this year, after a slower than expected development period during the COVID-19 pandemic

In the meantime, though, the DadPad team are committed to:

  • staying up-to-date with LGBTQ+ perinatal research;
  • engaging in and learn from conversations about LGBTQ+ perinatal issues; and
  • explore ways that we can create resources that up-skill and empower LGBTQ+ parents and parents-to-be, as well as perinatal care professionals who are committed to providing inclusive individualised care.

References and other useful resources:

Websites:

The LGBT Foundation was established in 1975 and seeks to support the needs of the diverse range of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans.

The sole purpose of the LGBT Mummies organisation is to support LGBTQ+ women and people globally on the path to motherhood or parenthood.

Mermaids has been supporting transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children, young people and their families since 1995.

Run by and delivering services for LGBTQ+ parents/carers-to-be, LGBTQ+ parents/carers and their children living in Greater Manchester (and the North West), Proud2BParents is an inclusive organisation for all routes to parenthood.

Stonewall is an LGBTQ+ rights charity, formed in 1989, and the largest LGBTQ+ rights organisation in Europe.

Support:

There are a number of helplines etc available for those seeking support, including:

  • LGBT Foundation helpline:  0345 330 3030 or helpline@lgbt.foundation. The helpline is open from 9.00am-9.00pm, Mon-Fri.
  • Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline: 0300 330 0630 or chris@switchboard.lgbt. The helpline is open from 10.00am-10.00pm daily, and emails are usually replied to within 72 hours.
  • Intercom Trust (an LGBTQ+ resource in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset): 0800 612 3010 or helpline@intercomtrust.org.uk. The helpline is normally staffed from 9.00am-4.00pm, Mon-Fri.
  • Galop LGBTQ+ domestic abuse helpline: 0800 999 5428 or advice@galop.co.uk.  The helpline is open between 10.00am-5.00pm, Mon-Fri, and from 10.00am-8.00pm on Wed and Thu.
  • Galop conversion therapy helpline: 0800 130 3335 or CThelp@galop.co.uk.  The helpline is open between 10.00am-4.00pm, Mon-Fri.
  • Galop LGBTQ+ hate crime helpline: 020 7704 2040 or hatecrime@galop.co.uk.  The helpline is open between 10.00am-4.00pm, Mon-Fri.
  • Mermaids helpline aimed at supporting transgender and gender-diverse young people (up to and including the age of 19), their families and the professionals working with them: 0808 801 0400 or text MERMAIDS to 85258. The helpline is staffed between 9.00am-9.00pm, Mon-Fri and the text service offers 24/7 crisis support.

Perinatal Information:

NHS advice page: Having a baby if you are LGBT+

HFEA (Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority information page: Information for trans and non-binary people seeking fertility treatment

Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust information page: Support for trans and non-binary people during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period

La Leche League information page: Support for transgender and non-binary parents

Research:

LGBT Foundation: Report on the ITEMS Project

Dr Ruth Pearce: Blog post on the TPATH Conference and ITEMS Project

University of Leeds Trans Pregnancy Project Research Team: Resources list

Dr Mari Greenfield, King’s College London: Academic profile and links to research interests/publications

Books:

Book Riot’s List of 11 Essential Queer Pregnancy Books (2020)

AJ Silver (2022) Supporting Queer Birth – A Book for Birth Professionals and Parents

Leisel Burisch (2020) Queer Nursing (The Phasing System)

Trevor MacDonald (2016) Where’s the Mother? Stories from a Transgender Dad

AK Summers (2014) Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag

Alyssa Schnell (2013) Breastfeeding Without Birthing: A Breastfeeding Guide for Mothers Through Adoption, Surrogacy and Other Special Circumstances

Blogs, Posts and Articles:

Freddy McConnell: writer and journalist; queer, transgender man and solo dad by choice; advocate for his community and committed to building a better future for LGBTQ+ families.

Jonny Fertray (2020) Ensuring pregnant trans men get equal quality care

AJ Silver (2019) Birth Beyond the Binary

Lucy Ruddle (2018) Supporting Women Through Relactation

Podcasts:

Dr Mari Greenfield’s Pride in Birth Podcast

Freddy McConnell’s Pride & Joy Podcast

Gendered Intelligence’s Transforming Spaces Podcast – inc a Making Space for Trans Pregnancy episode

Documentaries:

Jake and Hannah Graf’s story: Our Baby: a modern miracle

Freddy McConnell’s story: Seahorse: The dad who gave birth film

For Perinatal Care Professionals:

The Genderbread Person: a free online resource for understand gender identity, gender expression and anatomical sex

It’s Pronounced Metrosexual: a free online resource for learning and teaching about gender, sexuality and social justice

Birth For Every Body website, including information and links to further learning on gender

AJ Silver’s Queer Birth Club website, with information on their workshops including the LGBT+ Competency in Birth and Beyond Workshop.

Nurse Journal (USA) article by Angelique Geehan (2021) LGBTQIA2S+ Key Terms and Definitions for Nurses and Healthcare Providers

All4Maternity.com article by Bunty Lai-Boyd (2020) Maternity Care for LGBTQ+ People – How can we do better?

Durham University article by Dr Mari Greenfield (2021) The Iatrogenic Harm of Heterosexism in Perinatal Care: Have we forgotten lesbian mother during Covid?