When Pregnancy Pushes Against Gender Presentation
A.K. Summers' "Pregnant Butch" tells how pregnancy felt like dressing in drag.
How does a self-identified butch lesbian approach pregnancy? For A.K. Summers, attending hyper-feminine childbirth workshops alongside straight couples wasn't her idea of water slide fun. Nor is avoiding beer, or availing herself to the questions of rude straight doctors. It ran counter to her sense of herself.
"There's no use denying it. I am eternal woman," she tells herself at one of her pregnancy's rougher patches. "I am tears and I am snot. I am anaemic and I am purple veins. I am boobies."
This comic is far from a humdrum clinical diary. Summers is a good storyteller, recounting the uncomfortable social dance of recruiting a friend as a sperm donor, wringing him through a rigmarole of health tests and lifestyle changes, and wondering if pregnancy compromised her artistic freedom and attractiveness. In some of the comic's more moving moments, she parsing her feelings about motherhood as an adopted daughter herself, and her long-held insecurities about how our culture sees "butch" as unbeautiful.
In the best way, this story is a coming of age story. Summers writes in the past tense, as a now-contented mother looking back a decade into the years when her friends were just beginning to bring babies to boozy, crowded New York City parties, and when she wondered if this was a life she wanted at all. It's hard not to melt when you meet her present family at the end of the book.
You can read an excerpt of the book below: