‘Oh, where’s the husband?’
I was once approached by a postpartum provider who was potentially interested in partnering on services. This person was kind-hearted and offered excellent services - things I look for in a partnership. A quick glance at their website showed that they had a lot of heteronormative language like “this is great not only for mom, but for dad, too.”
All Rainbow Doula classes, including Preparing Partners for Birth, are written and executed using gender-neutral language.
Rainbow Doula DC is designed to work with, and for, queer birthing folks of all identities and relationship statuses. We strive to create an environment that is affirming for all people as they go through the process of birth or the postpartum period.
What does it mean to go beyond queer-friendly providership to queer-affirming providership?
This is what I sometimes lovingly refer to as going beyond a “rainbow sticker in the window.” Simply inviting queer people into your space without creating a framework of support for all birthing individuals is not going far enough.
One doula with Rainbow Doula had an experience that perfectly sums up the types of microaggressions queer couples often face in the cis-hetero-normative environtment of many birth locations:
“I watched one doctor walk into the birthing room and immediately say, ‘Oh, where’s the husband?’ My client’s partner was literally standing there, wiping her face.”
In these circumstances, a few things are happening at once: first, the queer couple who is going through one of the more intense human experiences (labor) is put in a position where their options are to ignore the comment and become invisible, or take on the burden of educating this doctor. Next, a small but insidious message is being sent to the queer couple, that they do not belong.
‘Oh, where’s the husband?’
This happens a lot for queer couples. I call it the “mental flip,” a small but damaging task queer people have to perform of mentally editing language every time they encounter a form that says “Mom’s Name, Dad’s Name” or every time someone refers to “women” when they mean people who can give birth.
I want to be clear that the mindset is not “us against them.” I’ve witnessed the most well-intentioned people get it wrong, not from a place of malice but of honest ignorance. I’ve gotten it wrong, too, and learning about Inclusivity is a life-long process that is always changing. But with the abundance of information available online, as well as classes and educational opportunities, the goal should always be becoming the most inclusive possible.
If you are seeking out this content, I applaud you. The very first step in creating a more queer-affirming birth atmosphere is admitting there is more to learn.
If you want to go even further, Rainbow Doula DC offers trainings for professionals and businesses on how to get it right, when it comes to queer inclusivity and affirmation. Check out our options to see how you can learn more.
This blog post was written by Kelsey Carroll.