The Natural Mother of the Child by Krys Malcolm Belc
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Featured on The Thread: Labeled 'Mother' when not a mother at all: On being a non-binary gestational parent
Krys Malcolm Belc has thought a lot about the interplay between parenthood and gender. As a nonbinary, transmasculine parent, giving birth to his son Samson clarified his gender identity. And yet, when his partner, Anna, adopted Samson, the legal documents listed Belc as “the natural mother of the child.”
By considering how the experiences contained under the umbrella of “motherhood” don’t fully align with Belc’s own experience, The Natural Mother of the Child journeys both toward and through common perceptions of what it means to have a body and how that body can influence the perception of a family. With this visual memoir in essays, Belc has created a new kind of life record, one that engages directly with the documentation often thought to constitute a record of one’s life—childhood photos, birth certificates—and addresses his deep ambivalence about the “before” and “after” so prevalent in trans stories, which feels apart from his own experience.
The Natural Mother of the Child is the story of a person moving past societal expectations to take control of his own narrative, with prose that delights in the intimate dailiness of family life and explores how much we can ever really know when we enter into parenting.