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Illustration of an old western-style town with sun and birds. from: PWCD - from: PWCD - Summer 2021 (side cover) - Queer Reproductive Rights,

Queer Reproductive Rights: Why Should We Care?

LGBT

Written by: Arin Hall

Meeting my fiancée wasn’t something I ever thought would happen, let alone during a time when I was finally cutting my toxic family out of my life. Now I want a family that I love with all my heart, and to raise a child that looks like myself and my fiancée, which is why the issues revolving around women’s reproductive rights are so important to me…

As my fiancée is the one wanting to give birth to our children, I sometimes worry about her safety. She has Vasovagal Syncope, (or reflex syncope), causing her to experience rapid drops in heart rate or blood pressure, and leads to fainting and potential accidents. For this reason, we have been very conscious and aware of the need to be extra careful during a pregnancy, and perhaps beforehand, as she has previously miscarried. This concern, in itself, isn’t an issue of reproductive rights – but what if we were to use a sperm donor?

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Graphic of artificial insemination
via Albrecht Women’s Care
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Discussions about using a sperm donor have bounced around a few times, as my fiancée and I want to be sure we’re looking at all the possibilities. The biggest issue we’ve come across and that worries us is a sperm donor having legal rights to the child we have. It’s terrifying to consider that when male sperm is used, he inherits the ability to claim our child as his.

While I haven’t spoken to many other queer – or lesbian couples for that matter, I’ve heard similar concerns before. In a society that would otherwise put down women’s rights to access proper reproductive care and abortion, who’s to say that it will not also take away rights to have children as well? As much as both my fiancée and I want to create a child together, the fact that a random man could have more reproductive rights over our child than ourselves is concerning.

My partner and I have also considered adoption, another problematic option, as I have heard couples – both homo and heterosexual, state that some agencies require proof the couple can care for a child. In several cases, the agency wanted the adopting couple to have a child already. And besides the fact that we’re a homosexual couple – if there was a problem with reproduction such as infertility or any other number of health issues – how is that expectation fair to people like us trying to bring a child into their home for a better life? How can someone ask us to already have a child when we are presently trying to bring one into our lives?

Ultimately, what I find to be the most infuriating of all things concerning reproductive rights, is the lack of knowledge and understanding people have when it comes to homosexual couples. Few individuals have a proper grasp on the matter, and even fewer are willing to accept these matters as fact.

If we are to consider women’s reproductive rights, we also need to recognize the rights of the couples comprised of two vaginas; women – who are also those that struggle with problems such as infertility and past trauma from the loss of a child.

Lunar Moon

Letters

Written by: Ziora Ajeroh 

Igbo culture

I grew up in a typical Nigerian-American household. My parents both immigrated to the United States from Nigeria in the 1990s; and since neither my mother nor my father is the “assimilating” type, it meant that whether I liked it or not, Igbo culture would be at the heart of my development…

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I was born to “kuru nwa” 

Black and white painting of many men's heads in water called THE IGBO LANDING. from: PWCD Topics: Igbo American
by Donovan Nelson via Daily Kos

In accordance with Igbo tradition, my great grandmother, accompanied by my grandmother, moved to the U.S. in 2003 after I was born to “kuru nwa,”  the Igbo term for the customary assistance a family receives from the grandmother in raising the child. Aside from the simple “hello,” “goodbye,” and “thank you,” my great grandmother, known affectionately as Mma Adeline, did not speak any English; another factor ensuring my chiefly Igbo upbringing. Great grandmother and grandmother fed me a diet consisting mostly of isi ewuogba, and ofe okworo with garri, and had me say the Grace in Igbo every night. 

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Navigating American Culture

By the time I turned four, I had become like Mma. I could understand English but only spoke Igbo. I entered preschool with a very limited understanding of how to navigate American culture. However, with the help of the preschool teacher, my family, (and my favorite book of nursery rhymes), I learned English in seven months. The next year I started kindergarten reading at a third-grade level and was immediately promoted to the first grade.

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New Moon

When I started school, I was naive and innocent like a new moon. I talked about my heritage to anyone and everyone in earshot. As you can imagine, this didn’t exactly play out well within a small southern town. Other children began to assault me with racist and xenophobic remarks every day. I was told to “go back to my country,” called a “dirty African,” and became a class joke. As a result, I began burying myself in novels and other languages to distract myself. Thus, my journey down the road to self-hate began.

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I started to detest my background…

I resented my parents for being unapologetically Igbo and my classmates for their hurtful actions, but most of all, I resented myself for allowing their words and opinions to affect me as much as they did. I refused to wear the African styles – the way my mother braided my hair for school, and didn’t speak Igbo to anyone but Mma. My father grew concerned. He started making it a point to encourage me to speak Igbo, educating my sister and I on Igbo customs, and teaching us new words.

I deflected his efforts until after Mma’s funeral. I was talking to one of my aunts, and for some reason, the Igbo word for lotion had slipped my mind, “Ude.”  It was simple, but this momentary lapse of memory sent me into a panic. I’d been excelling in Latin class and was also well on my way to becoming fluent in ogbaogba yet I was losing the ability to articulate myself in my own language. I instantly recalled Mma’s warm voice sternly reminding me that “Igbo amaka,” (Igbo is beautiful). It was a popular phrase among Igbo elders, my great grandmother especially. I thought of how Mma would feel if she knew how ashamed I was of the culture she had so proudly instilled in me, and how revolted she would’ve been by my actions. From then on, I started paying attention when my dad spoke. At family events, when the adult men were discussing politics in Igbo, I listened in. I began practicing some traditional Igbo dances in my room and watching Nollywood films with my mom. Bit by bit, I began to recover the culture I had lost while learning about the cultures of others.

Two personalities

Now it seems I have two personalities, Igbo – Ziora and American – Ziora, and I am still adjusting, but I’ve been teaching myself the delicate balance between the two. In the words of the ever-so-wise Hannah Montana, I’m finding the “best of both worlds.” The journey of self-acceptance throughout my adolescence progressed like a waxing moon – and now I have finally reached my lunar bloom.

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