“My motherhood has been consistently challenged because I am queer and the non-biological parent of our beautiful twins.”
BY DR HANNAH PHILLIPS, IMAGE BY DR HANNAH PHILLIPS
What does it mean to be a queer mother, the ‘other’ mother? The one that finds herself answering questions often from strangers about not being the biological mother of her children or her infertility. Deeply personal questions that I would never consider asking people I don’t know or indeed people I do know. I was on a high state of alert following our first meeting with the midwife, there wasn’t a box for me on the form or the first antenatal class where the flummoxed facilitator asked me to join the fathers, I forced back tears so as not to cry at the dads’ table. At 6-months old, one of our babies had to have a minor procedure in hospital, we were both sitting at his bedside, I was asked by the nervous doctor who stumbled over his words whether I had any proof that I was Noah’s legal parent, was my name on his birth certificate? It was. I looked around at the other anxious parents’ faces, these mums and dads were not being asked for this proof of parenthood. My motherhood has been consistently challenged because I am queer and the non-biological parent of our beautiful twins.
As I read the news that Italy had started the process of removing the names of lesbian non-biological mothers from their children’s birth certificates I was overwhelmed by a wave of deep sadness and anger. This new legislation has been passed by the “traditional family first” government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
The Prime Minister was criticised last year for taking her six-year-old daughter to the G20 Summit. Her response to the critics was: “The question I have to ask the leaders of this passionate debate is so, you think that how my daughter should grow up is your business. Because here’s the news: it is not. I have the right to mother as I see fit and I have the right to do all I can for this nation without depriving Ginevra of a mother.”
I agree with her but as she pushes her “traditional family first” agenda she makes it their business. In my opinion, queering transcends gender and sexuality, it is a disruption of societal norms, a dismantling of the patriarchy. Queering motherhood would benefit all parents oppressed by societal and archetypal views of motherhood. Queering motherhood would benefit Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. What if we were to interpret the term ‘motherhood’ in any way that fits our full complex identities, our families, our lives, what if we were to design our own roles? As queer mothers, we have the right to mother as we see fit!
As the founder and producer of The No Outsider LGBTQIA+ Family Arts Festival, part of the No Outsiders Charity founded by Andrew Moffat MBE, I have the joy of sharing space and art with a multitude of alternative families and intersectional identities. I feel grateful to be part of this community and we stand in heartfelt solidarity with the mothers in Italy.
Mostly, being the ‘other’ mother is a privilege, an exhausting but beautiful soul journey. This morning I found ‘love notes’ from 8-year-old Noah and Levi on my desk because they thought I seemed sad. At that moment, I felt like the luckiest Mama in the world. Starting a queer family requires commitment, desire, difficult conversations, resilience and inequitably money. They are right to fear our grit, our authenticity, our creativity and our love. Our beautiful intentional queer connections are unbreakable.
Dr Hannah Phillips is a queer theatre maker, writer, producer, academic, activist and parent. She is the founder and producer of the No Outsiders Family Festival and Artistic Director of Mobilise Arts. Find out more at hannahphillips.com. Follow her on twitter @HannahYellowitz.
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