When LGBT Microaggressions Add Up

When LGBT Microaggressions Add UpToday I got a call from the nurse practitioner that will be working with us when Evan has his sedated echo next week. It was a typical pre-op phone call, mostly to rule out any risks and confirm Evan’s medical history. Easy-peasy. Until two questions in he asked, “So, are you the biological parent?”

I was mildly put off, but I figured I would give him the benefit of the doubt and assume the question was somehow medically relevant.

“No, I’m the non-gestational mom.”

“Oh. Huh. Funny. I have never heard that before. So wait, can you legally act on his behalf then?”

I sighed. Is ignorance really bliss? Because at this point it was just pissing me off.

“Yes. I am his mother. My name is on his birth certificate. Both the state and federal government recognize my relationship to my child.”

“Oh. ok.”

He seemed satisfied by my answer, but clearly he was not comfortable with the notion that a child could have two moms because after going through Evan’s medical history, he asked, “So, have you adopted Evan?”

This is when I stopped giving him the benefit of the doubt. My legal relationship to Evan is not his to question or offer up an opinion.

“No. I do not have to because the state and federal government already recognize our legal relationship. I am his mother. As I said before, I am on his birth certificate.”

“Huh. That just seems crazy since a step-mother can’t sign legal paperwork for her step-child.”

Thank you for your incredible not-so-micro aggression letting me know that you think that my legal rights as Evan’s mother are somehow unfair to straight couples who remarry… and that you don’t consider me Evan’s “real” mom.

As much as I appreciated his attempt to marginalize my relationship to my son, I wasn’t about to let this comment pass for mere ignorance.

“Well, that really isn’t a good comparison. A step-parent is not there from the moment of conception. I am not a person who has established a relationship with one of Evan’s parents – I am his mother. It’s the same as a heterosexual couple who uses a sperm donor”

“Oh. I guess.”

You guess? Again, not your decision.

Here’s a little pro-tip – it is never your right to question my relationship to my children, regardless of what you think of the laws that are in place to protect my family.

When LGBT Microaggressions Add Up

These are my babies. And I am their mama.

After a few more medical questions, I hung up the phone and felt outraged. Because these micoragressions add up; from the kid at pre-K who likes to insist to Addison that everyone has a dad, to the man who gave me a hearing test and went on a rant about how if gays wanted to get married, we would need to call it something else – like “purple fuzzy thing.” These constant, often unconsciously ignorant, remarks and observations about my family and life are grating, insensitive, and painful.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if I am Evan’s biological mother or not. I am his mama, and that’s all anyone needs to know.


About Jen

Outdoor adventurer and traveler. Writer, Photographer & Communications Professor. Wife. Mom of twins plus one. Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador. Blogger at gayfamilytrips.com.

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24 Responses to When LGBT Microaggressions Add Up

  1. Scott Gauvin December 23, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    How do we spell Moron? oh yes… A-S-S-H-O-L-E! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrgpZ0fUixs thanks Denis!

    • Jen December 23, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

      OMG you just made me feel so much better. I needed that laugh. Thanks Scott!

  2. Janeiack December 23, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    And this is MA! We have a lot more educating to do. Loved your “this is NOT YOUR decision”.

  3. Carrie December 23, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    This makes me want to cry. So many dysfunctional families out there with children who are tossed around between self-absorbed adults who don’t know or care how to properly raise a human being, and love is what gets questioned and dismissed? I just don’t get it.

    • Jen December 28, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

      I don’t get it either Carrie…

  4. Julie December 23, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    Cant even imagine. Though I will tell you I had a not as long, but very similarly annoying conversation with the dentist who was annoyed that I had a child with a different last name as mine, and how will they ever know to reschedule both of us in the same time. So assholes can be “inconvenienced” by almost any difference!

    • Mrs. M December 23, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

      While it is great that you had the patience to respond to the nurse practitioner’s inappropriate questions, I would want to report this to a superior at the hospital or doctor’s practice. You are dealing with a medical issue and should not have to deal with any questions unrelated to the well-being of your child.

      • Jen December 28, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

        Kendra called within a minute of speaking to me about it – new NP, and we will be writing a detailed letter to the admin staff.

    • Jen December 28, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

      Ha ha! So true. Which is part of the reason I took Kendra’s last name – we didn’t want any issues to arise for our kids. That worked really well, eh?

  5. Marianne Merritt December 23, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    How sad that you have to deal with this at all, let alone at a time like this. Good luck with everything and my prayers are with you all.

    • Jen December 28, 2014 at 11:06 pm #

      Thank you Marianne. Been thinking about you lots since I ran into you at Starbucks. I hope you had a lovely Christmas and I am sending lots of love your way as well.

  6. Deb December 24, 2014 at 6:45 am #

    Can you get another NP? Aren’t you stressed enough without having to worry about chosen ignorance from people who are supposed to be providing comfort?

    • Jen December 28, 2014 at 11:05 pm #

      Already did :)

  7. Susan December 24, 2014 at 7:47 am #

    Argh! This story moves me to delurk. That is awful….I have more patience with annoying small classmate than someone who’s trained to interact with patients. We still have very negative memories of the hospital intake that happened at the point where we had legally asymmetric relationships with our daughter (lived in a place that required second parent adoption at the time, and medical care was needed before that could happen). At a vulnerable moment, it hurts all the more to have the family questioned. This is the sort of thing that higher-ups in the hospital need to know about–it is NOT OKAY for someone to treat you like that. (And the fact that many families who encounter this treatment are dealing with a health issue that understandably takes up time and energy probably means that such treatment goes unreported.) I hope his procedure goes really well–thinking of you all.

    • Jen December 28, 2014 at 11:05 pm #

      We’ve already contacted the hospital – so frustrating though. Thanks for the well-wishes and support!

  8. Allison December 24, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

    Ugh. How ignorant!

  9. Deb December 28, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    Here: http://www.chop.edu/news/children-s-hospital-philadelphia-named-leader-lgbt-healthcare-equality-human-rights-campaign

    I don’t know if going out-of-state is feasible for your family, but just thought I’d put it out there just in case. I’ve not been to CHOP, but a good (straight) friend of mine received care for her child there.

    • Jen December 28, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

      Kendra actually called the hospital – we got an apology and a new NP.

      • Susan December 29, 2014 at 10:29 pm #

        Glad to hear they acknowledged the error.

  10. Deb December 29, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    Glad to hear it! That added stress is the last thing you need right now.

  11. Amy March 26, 2015 at 8:17 am #

    Ahhhh I really cant understand why anyone thinks its ANY of their business who belongs to who or how it came about, or why, or any number of other stupid questions, your child is your child, end of story. Friends of mine have 2 kids with a 10 year age gap, the number of people that ask if they have different fathers is unbelievable. I cant believe how rude people are. What does it matter what anyone else is doing as long as their children are loved, happy and well cared for. Pffft I would have found it very hard not to curse and slam the phone down in his ear. Idiot!

  12. Heidi June 12, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    That is awful! My partner and I adopted 2 twin girls so people seem to get that a little more than your situation. I do get A LOT of questions though. It normally starts when they ask about my husband and I say, “Well actually my wife” then a million adoption questions.

  13. LezFamily May 31, 2016 at 6:18 pm #

    Your responses were perfect! I’ll need that level of patience and grace, I’m sure, as our little ones come along!


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    […] me feel so many emotions – anger, frustration, disgust. Similar to how I felt last year when speaking to a nurse practitioner about my son. Though thankfully I have found that the vast majority of doctors and nurses we encounter are […]

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