Queer and Transgender Kinship and Family: An Ethics of Reproduction with ARTs

Go the project webbsite: QTReproART

My research project deals with an ethics of queer and transgender reproduction with the use of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs). The most current research on ARTs lies in the emerging understanding that a multiplicity of relationships and family structures, as well as diverse genders and sexualities, are more and more recognized and making use of ARTs. My focus is firstly on the ways in which these technologies confront queer, transgender and dis/abled people with normative expectations concerning their biological sex, gender, sexuality, kinship and their right to procreate. The second, but no less important point has to do with the negative bio-capitalist and bio-colonialist aspects of ART if people whose bodily materials are needed are exploited. Thus, this form of queer necropolitics needs to be avoided.

The following other aspects are also relevant:

1. Focusing on the parents and non-parents side of my project means that I analyse how transgender, queer and dis/abled parents, and other kin are sharing the burdens and benefits of having children, which kinds of arrangements exist, and finally how the current legal framework helps or obstructs a just distribution.

2. I look at transgender, queer and dis/abled children and what justice means to them (e.g. either in the possibility of having access to hormones or hormone blockers if necessary, or in being able to express and live their sexual orientation, of living in a family or kinship structure, which is less orientated towards able-bodiedness or able-mindedness) and how the current legal framework helps or obstructs distributive justice for these children.

3. Intergenerational Kinship: Do all contemporaries, regardless of whether they are parents or non-parents, have the same obligations of justice towards future generations? Looking at the use of ARTs, these questions arise, for example, if a dis/ability or a certain disease runs in the family and it could be avoided with the help of medical technologies. Would this mean that to do justice to the unborn children is to avoid these dis/abilities? Or would it be rather the other way round, if parents are dis/abled themselves (e.g. the case of deaf lesbians who wanted to have a deaf baby in the US)? Should queer kin (also of elder generations) play a more influential role for a queer child?

I find out how reproductive justice and justice within the family and kinship can be achieved for transgender, queer and dis/abled people whose non-normative bodies are not always welcomed. They are also some of the least researched groups in this field. I look at ARTs, because they create the possibility of a new reproductive logic where LGBTIQ[1] and disabled people are able to form non-genetically and even genetically related families. The overall aim for all three questions is to find ex ante (direct interventions in the family/kinship addressing injustice) or ex post (in form of compensations for individuals in the family/kinship) potential interventions. I carried out the preliminary work (collecting of materials and first drafts) for this project during my stay in the USA, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, University of California, Berkeley since 2013 and in Austria, University of Graz, Institute for Advanced Studies, Science, Technology and Society (IAS-STS) since 2014.

Contact: Doris Leibetseder

[1] Abbreviation for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer.