I think a recent opinion piece published in the University of South Florida’s campus newspaper, by Akshita Sathe, is instructive in terms of how a person seemingly raised by a male-female couple shouldn’t discuss parenting by same-sex couples. It launches into such territory when Sathe explains her opposition to same-sex parenting by noting, “It just sounds odd saying that one has ‘two mommies’ or ‘two daddies.’ ” The author herself notes that she supports same-sex marriage, but apparently fails to recognize that the precise same argument was already trotted out with regard to there being two brides or two grooms as sounding just as strange to some people’s ears.
And that of course gets to the heart of it – her opposition to same-sex parents being recognized as precisely that is in part based on how she understands other people’s lives to be, not how they actually are. There’s other indications that Sathe is more imagining my life than actually interested in how I think about it. In fact, that’s her actual word choice – “imagine the trauma” she asks, concerning what “a child would have to go through to explain his or her family to others for the rest of the child’s life”. She elaborates on that with references to “social stigma at school”.
I can tell you about all the unpleasantness of that if you’d only asked, Sathe, but I’d be quite frank that the problem isn’t that my family is different but that our difference is seen as something we must justify. Sometimes there’s apparently no justification great enough for us to be given the right to legal existence. The problem is not my family. The problem is you and the stigmas you’re excusing yourself from helping us fight.
Beyond presuming she knows the solution to this political problem better than those affected, Sathe also insists that she knows the personal experiences and opinions of those of us with same-sex parents. She explains, “Naturally, a child of homosexual parents is going to want to find their real, biological parents.” Let’s point out the obvious – she assumes that no same-sex couple will intentionally raise their children knowing any additional biological parents. Likewise, given those experiences, many of us do feel how she described us to, but the idea that we all inevitably do is laughable. We’re not carbon copies of each other in terms of responding to rather broad social experiences.
There’s also the added benefit of discussing who our ‘real’ parents are – not only does Sathe want to avoid legally recognizing some of our parental relationships, but she can’t even conceptualize that we might view the same-sex couples who raised us as our real, actual parents.
Eerily enough, I don’t think Sathe will ever become aware of the fact that some of us just might disagree with her entire understanding of our lives. She mentions at one point that she’s not comfortable drawing conclusions about people like me (notice that didn’t stop her in the slightest though!), but there’s a lack of research on us. That rarity is caused in turn by “the lack of a sound population of families with two same-sex parents.” In other words, I can’t be trusted to honestly report on my experiences being raised by a same-sex couple. No one like me can. But Akshita Sathe apparently can decide that my life was full of what she considers strangeness, and difficulties, and unknowns, so therefore it shouldn’t have been ever lived.