“Queering Family Trees: Race, Reproductive Justice and Lesbian Motherhood” by Sanda Patton-Imani— Barriers to Making a Family

Patton-Imani, Sandra. “Queering Family Trees: Race, Reproductive Justice and Lesbian Motherhood”,  NYU Press, 2020.

Barriers to Making a Family

Amos Lassen

In “Queering Family Trees”, writer Sandra Patton-Imani argues that there are significant barriers to family-making exist for lesbian mothers of color in the United States. First of all, we see that the battle for LGBTQ rights is far from over and that it is a complex issue regarding citizenship and family.

Looking at the experiences of lesbian mothers in this country and through interviews with African American, Latina, Native American, white, and Asian American lesbian mothers living in a range of socioeconomic circumstances, Patton-Imani shows how they have navigated family-making. With the legalization of same-sex marriage and adoption in 2015, some doors opened for equality for some couples, yet structural and economic barriers have meant that others, especially queer women of color who often have fewer financial resources, have not been able to access  what seem to be available “choices” such as second-parent adoptions, powers of attorney, and wills. The virtual exclusion of lesbians of color from public narratives about LGBTQ families is crucial to the narrative that legal marriage for same-sex couples provides access to full equality as citizens. 

Further, through the lens of reproductive justice, Patton-Imani shows that the federal legalization of same-sex marriage reinforces existing structures of inequality based on race, gender, sexuality, and class. These women area critically erased segment of the queer population and this shows that the seemingly “color blind” solutions offered by marriage equality do not do anything for these inequalities.

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