Privilege and Parenting

Image credit: ParaDox

Sometimes, a piece of writing just makes me think. Chase Strangio’s “Making Room for More Impossible Decisions: Reflections on Being a Trans Parent” at HuffPo is one of them. Strangio gives much food for thought to parents across the LGBT spectrum and beyond, and calls for a greater understanding among parents of all types.

Strangio begins by reflecting on the similarities between being a parent and being trans:

The transition to parenthood creates public access to your life and your decisions: People feel comfortable touching you and your baby and telling you what is right for your body, your life and your future and how to correct the many mistakes you are making. As a trans person, this part of parenting feels incredibly familiar; it is perhaps the only familiar part. Strangers, family, friends and doctors have all felt entitled to inappropriately touch my body, ask me questions and assess the validity of my decisions.

But the piece is much more than an excursion into what it is like being a trans parent. Strangio acknowledges being part of certain privileged groups in terms of race and class, but also observes that those who experience the most privilege may often be the most surprised when they become parents and experience societal judgment and challenges. Those who have been part of less privileged groups may have a better understanding of these challenges:

Our country’s lack of supportive and sustaining systems is commonly understood by people of color, people with disabilities, poor people, trans people, immigrants and low-wage workers, who daily navigate public access to and judgment of their lives.

Strangio calls for those with privilege to stop judging others’ parenting decisions, and to instead work to create broader support systems for all parents.

Privilege is complex, as Strangio notes. Systems of privilege often intersect and interact in unexpected ways. I see Strangio’s piece as part of what I hope will be an ongoing conversation about these topics. Go have a read and leave a comment with your thoughts.