I would like to preface this article by stating that the views expressed in this article are completely based on my own opinions and experiences. These cannot be held as a representative of the entire LGBT+ midwifery community, of which we admittedly know very little about. The latter part of this statement is what has inspired me to write this article.
Why do queer midwife’s voices matter?
I was extremely disheartened as… I was assumedly doubly inappropriate.
I was extremely disheartened as, not only was I inappropriate for the role as I was a school leaver, I was also a homosexual school leaver, therefore I was assumedly doubly inappropriate. In a time where places on a midwifery course were fought for tooth and nail I began to question if I had done the right thing and if indeed I deserved this opportunity I had earned.
This had a great impact on my personal life. It was highly important to me that no one in the trust or my course knew of my sexuality. I was having to work harder to prove that I was worthy of decent grades in practise as my care was under constant scrutiny due to my age, I did not then need further scrutiny due to my sexuality. In addition, the idea of being the topic of such harsh gossip such as that I had witnessed by midwives I worked with and respected made me extremely anxious and morose. Therefore, it became a mission that nobody knew my sexuality. In order to achieve this I did not involve myself with romantic relationships as I lived close to many of my colleagues and the idea of them seeing me in public with a female partner led to anxiety. Additionally, I did not think it would be fair on a romantic partner to feel as though I was ashamed of them or to make them suppress their personal expression for my comfort. I considered it the lesser of two evils for me just to abstain from romantic relationships.
During this time I felt isolated. I attempted to search for people in a similar situation as me for support but I could not find any support networks for LGBT midwives. I did not know any LGBT midwives as I assume they were probably doing a similar thing as I was by keeping their identity private. There was no research on the experiences of queer midwives, so I could not seek abstract solidarity in that. My LGBT+ friends did not quite understand what I was feeling as they were in more accepting fields. My heterosexual friends definitely did not understand what I was going through and I also did not have the comfort and support that comes from a romantic relationship. I was alone and isolated. My self worth within the course was greatly diminished, my mental health was affected and I found myself almost leaving the course on numerous occasions.
I was left… questioning my appropriateness for the job.
So why does this matter? Why are LGBT midwives important?