By Zoë Wilkinson Saldana - Contributing Blogger
When The Pride & Joy Project contacted me to talk about possibly contributing to the blog, I was thrilled. I was also nervous. Here were photographs of queer women thriving as mothers, playing games and laughing and going on walks, giving love in the little gestures and expressions of everyday life. And here I was, a queer trans woman in my mid-twenties still establishing myself in Seattle and in the world. I am nowhere near that point in life where I could start pragmatically planning to adopt a child, let alone share in the hugs and frustrations and joys of a parent’s everyday life. I thought about how many steps there are between here and there, and how many things are opaque to me.
I also felt at home. Seeing those scenes of queer folks giving their absolute most to children felt like an invitation into that fabric of queer motherhood. I wanted to understand my place in that fabric, and to extend that belonging to others.
In November 2015, Buzzfeed LGBT published an essay I wrote about my path to trans motherhood, in which I expressed how difficult it can be for trans women to feel included in the continuity of motherhood and find models of what their path to motherhood might look like:
Generations of women — women who could not conceive; women who were queer or part of nontraditional partnerships; women who adopted alone late in life; women who were marginalized by poverty and white supremacy and then judged by society as incapable of showing children stability; women who were for a million reasons considered the wrong kind of woman — have been spectacular mothers. I know that countless trans women must number their ranks.
But I still struggle to find stories that shed light on the kind of mother I hope to one day be. I’m still learning what to expect in negotiating the adoption agency, the benefits coordinator in HR, and even the judgmental parents of my future kid’s classmates. I’m looking for possibility models of trans women who take on motherhood and bring something beautiful, and stable, to a child’s life.
After I put these words out there, I was moved by the responses of other trans women. In their own questions and vlogs and essays, my peers expressed this sense of self-efficacy - the conviction that, yes, we can make motherhood a reality, and that we can surmount any barriers that come our way on the path to becoming spectacular parents. I wrote about my struggle to find that strength, and in the act of writing I found it almost immediately, all around me. That strength was profoundly encouraging, and it encouraged me to say yes when Betsy reached out to me about blogging.
If I hope to contribute anything to this blog, it’s to send a beacon out there for others who have walked similar paths and are striving for similar goals. By sharing possibility models of what it means to be a mother, we can widen the space of motherhood to include the folks who have been marginalized and excluded from the role of parent, and yet have so much love to give to children. There is so much we can learn from each other. We may never have met, but I want you to be part of this space, too. (Yes, you!)
I am eager to figure out what it means to build community around the dream of motherhood as a trans woman, even if I don’t know exactly where this journey will take me. As my childhood friend Louis likes to quote, “not all who wander are lost.” Here’s to more wandering!