‘We are expected to be OK with not having children’: how gay parenthood through surrogacy became a battleground | Surrogacy | The Guardian

In New York, a gay couple fighting to make their insurers pay for fertility treatment have found themselves in the middle of a culture war. What happens when the right to parenthood involves someone else’s body?

Chesler is an author and a professor of psychology and women’s studies. She has been a critic of surrogacy ever since she campaigned for the rights of Mary Beth Whitehead, the New Jersey surrogate who fought for custody of the baby she carried in 1986. (Whitehead’s case was ultimately unsuccessful.) When New York state voted to legalise commercial surrogacy in 2020, Chesler was one of the most vocal campaigners against it. The fight was still fresh in her mind when she heard about Briskin and Maggipinto’s claim.

“Gay men now want insurance companies to treat being born male as a disability or as a protected category, one which requires paid compensation,” she wrote in an article for a feminist website published a few days after the men filed their complaint. “They are protesting the ‘unfairness’ of not having been born biologically female.”

“One of them comes from a wealthy family. The wealthy know the world’s their oyster: they can buy whatever they want and if the poor are ill-served, well, so be it, it’s the way of the world. This way of thinking is involved in surrogacy. Nobody is saying: ‘I would rather give up this longing if it means harming another human being.’ The types of people who opt for surrogacy are entitled, used to getting what they want. Here I include celebrity women who do not want to ruin their figures.” She rejects the idea that adoption agencies would refuse to take on Briskin and Maggipinto. Gay men want surrogacy instead of adoption, she says, because of “genetic narcissism”.

Also among Chesler’s papers is a copy of Maggipinto and Briskin’s legal complaint. She has read it closely. “This particular case, yes, I have to concede, it is discrimination. It is! But let’s balance it all out. The desperate egg donors and the surrogates who have to do this – they were discriminated against. Women don’t get the same educations … Women are discriminated against everywhere, but especially those who become gestational carriers.”

Fracturing the role of mother into egg provider and gestator obfuscates and minimises female input in reproduction, making it easier for the intended parents to control the process, Chesler says. “The disappearance of womankind has been ongoing – this is another kind of disappearance. It is a land grab.” This will sound familiar to anyone who has followed arguments made by gender-critical feminists over recent years: that women are being erased, and their biology is being appropriated.

“We’ve lost the right to control our bodies, to refuse to be mothers, and at the same time – given economic realities of impoverishment – we are then forced to bear children for the wealthy.”

“The women who say: ‘Oh, we’re happy surrogates’? Like the so-called sex worker, she has to dissociate from what’s happening to her body. This is not mentally healthy. If it was such a wonderful thing to do, then why don’t the wealthy do it for the poor, who are as infertile? As for the woman who thinks this is the most productive or significant or powerful thing she can do – this tells me everything I need to know about her alternatives, which are zilch.”

Source: ‘We are expected to be OK with not having children’: how gay parenthood through surrogacy became a battleground | Surrogacy | The Guardian

One thought on “‘We are expected to be OK with not having children’: how gay parenthood through surrogacy became a battleground | Surrogacy | The Guardian”

  1. We hold the stolen generation up as a horror yet are ‘proud’ of the ‘brave’ surrogates…

    This is merely the commodification of uterus’s.

    That same sex couples can access IVF is suspect.

    That they can access surrogacy is perverse.

    That they can go to the third world and get them even cheaper is a kind of slavery with a vivisection flavour to it…

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