LGBTQ families define themselves in many different ways, including chosen families as well as biological. In our research, we understand LGBTQ families to be any family in which one or more members identify as LGBTQ. In addition to the regular ebbs and flows all families go through, LGBTQ families also experience different stresses that are unique to their circumstances. When individuals, communities or social structures discriminate against LGBTQ people, it affects the whole family and is important to consider. We also know that LGBTQ families can form incredibly powerful bonds with one another. Support systems are integral to family health, and we know that LGBTQ communities connect in a variety of ways, which is also important to celebrate!
Our research, taken together with other data, suggests that ISM women (that is, sexual minority women who are currently partnered with men) are probably the largest sexual minority group among women who experience pregnancy. We think that this is an important finding to share back to the community, because many of the ISM women we interviewed expressed that they didn't know any other women who shared this particular set of experiences. Part of community building is sharing knowledge and resources, so we built this website as a way to do that.
Another important finding from our research is that among ISM women, there is a lot of diversity in women's identities, behaviours, and relationship configurations. From labels, to sexual and relationship histories, to disclosure - we heard many distinct stories. Based on this, we think it's important to highlight the diversity of sexual minority women, of bisexual people, and of people who have children. It's important that we try not to make assumptions about any of these groups. For more resources on different identities and experiences, here are some videos highlighting the experiences of bisexual people.
Our research suggests that ISM women may be at higher risk for certain health problems compared to women with other identities or experiences. ISM women reported more complex and difficult reproductive histories (fertility problems, miscarriages, or pregnancy complications), and more symptoms of depression both during pregnancy and at 6-8 weeks postpartum. If this resonates with you, know that there are many people who share your experiences, and they are legitimate. For more resources about sexual minority women’s experiences of pregnancy loss, Pink Families has a great primer on this topic.
Despite these health concerns, many of our participants did not disclose to their healthcare providers their sexual identity, as most felt that it was not relevant or said that "it had not come up". We recognize that women make "coming out" decisions that are right for them, but know that if you want to talk to your health care provider about your sexual identity or sexual experiences, this is information they should be prepared to receive and respond to. Here is a great resource (in 2 parts) to help you decide and plan about coming out—to health care providers or other people in your life—there is a great bisexual disclosure kit available in two parts: part 1 and part 2.
Lastly, a large number of the women we interviewed mentioned either active engagement in, or some consideration of, consensual non-monogamy (CNM) at some point during their current relationship. We also found that there was incredible variety on how they perceived CNM and how it was or wasn't integrated into their relationship structure. This speaks to the incredible diversity of our participants' identities and experiences. If you are involved in CNM or would like to learn more about it, Morethantwo.com is a great resource to start.
If you're interested in more resources and guidelines, check out our Community Resources!