Home' LOTL : April 2007 Contents 19
One of the reasons cited for having children
later was also around feeling mentally and
emotionally “ready” and to be able to
provide for a child’s psychological needs.
“I think people of my age are well aware
of the dangers for children socially and
physically and psychologically and
do everything within their power to be
vigilant. I’m speaking from experience
of friend’s and my mother’s group who
are of a similar age”, said Simone,
35, who has a 5-month-old daughter with
partner Jane, 33.
“I see my daughter as holding equal worth
and value as any adult,” said Simone, “in great
contrast to previous generations who would say
children should be seen and not heard.”
Although there are no official statistics on the number
of lesbians having children, The Australian Census
in 1996 and 2001 did record information on people
living in same-sex relationships and gays and lesbians
living with children.
“It shows a big increase in the number of people (gay
and lesbian) living with children….but that could just
be that more people are declaring it now”, said Ruth
McNair, a GP and lecturer at Melbourne University.
“What we know from the lesbian community is that
about 20 per cent have children and another 20 per
cent want to have children”.
While there isn’t any one reason why more lesbians
are having children or planning to have children,
they are following the general trend of more women
having children later in life.
The percentage of births to mother’s aged 35 years
and over out of all births was 13.7 per cent in
1995 and 19.9 per cent in 2004, according to the
Australian Bureau of Statistics Social Trends 2006.
The percentage of women aged 35 and over who
were giving birth for the first time out of all births was
20.8 per cent in 1995 and 26.2 per cent in 2003.
That means that the ‘gayby boom’ of the mid-1990’s,
through until the middle of the next decade, will be
made up of so-called Generation X women – a term
coined by a US author to describe the generational
attitudes, beliefs and influences on people born
roughly between 1965-1975, primarily the children of
the “baby-boomer” generation.
“I see my parent’s generation as probably one of
the most lucky…mine has to struggle for things our
parents took for granted, like owning a house…I
think that’s a really big difference”, said Christy.
Robyn and Sue are a couple in their early 40’s co-
parenting a 10-month-old son. Robyn said one of
the biggest differences between the generations
is “…that both of us are actively involved in the
parenting…My father was never involved like that, he
never even changed a nappy.”
Karina Luzia, a researcher at Macquarie University,
in Sydney, is working on a project about women
parenting together. “There are many more
children now being planned in gay and lesbian
relationships, rather than say bringing children
in from a previous heterosexual relationship. I
think it’s because people are coming out earlier
and getting into relationships and then planning
This was validated by the interviews LOTL
conducted with five lesbian families. Each of
them emphasised the planning that went into
their decision to have a child or children.
“I really planned everything to the ‘nth’ degree…
Even though I’m glad I waited until I had finances
in order and other things, when I think about
it logically there’s probably no reason why I
couldn’t have been as good a mother early on in
my life”, said Jane, 35, who is co-parenting an 8-
month old son with partner Fiona, also 35.
Christy agrees, “I don’t think it’s that easy to
drop that sense that you need to get things in
place, almost always financially…I’m grateful that
we are in a place in our lives where we can step
back from it all for a while, in a way that doesn’t
feel too risky.”
Christy, 31, is co-parenting a four-week old
daughter with her partner, Janna, who is 36
“Most lesbian mums I know are much closer to
40…while that’s fine, it worries me that some
lesbians may be leaving it too late.”
Nadine said, “going into parenting in your
30s, as we and lots of our friends are doing
now, you have developed your own self-
confidence and ways of doing things…
Also, I think lesbians take parenting very seriously,
that is, read every book available and choose to
follow a philosophy rather than being ad hoc.”
Nadine and Maria are raising their three and a half
year old daughter Ella together, and have another
child on the way. Maria is the birth mother of Ella
and Nadine is pregnant with their second child,
however the embryo used is Maria’s making the
baby a full sibling of Ella.
GENERATION X LESBIANS ARE
YEARNING FOR THE PITTER
PATTER OF LITTLE FEET. BY
Nadine said, “There are less rules now than
there were in our parents’ generation…we make
When asked about how they experience the
responsibility of parenthood and being part of
this first wide-scale birth of children into lesbian
families, there were a number of issues raised.
“Sometimes I think because I’m a lesbian I almost
feel like I have to over compensate, by having
everything perfectly planned to prove that I’m
worthy to be a mother – that might be some kind
of internalised homophobia”, said Jane.
Nadine added, “the difficulty that many gay
men and women experience to get to the point
of becoming parents, demonstrates a level of
commitment and determination…we have a lot
“Because it is a reasonably new thing on a wide
scale, we have the responsibility of showing the
world that we can do it just as well, if not better,
than our parents or straight peers.”
Jane and Fiona have also noticed that their
family receives “more interest” from people about
how they are going to parent and have also
found some unexpected views at a lesbian
“Fiona gets questioned all the time about why
she doesn’t want to give birth,” said Jane.
“What’s amazing is that suddenly a group who
traditionally held up a woman’s right to choose
are now saying ‘why aren’t you having one?’”
“I think it’s all wrapped up in this lesbian equality
thing where everything must be the same between
two women in a relationship,” said Fiona.
“Like ‘why are we mimicking a straight relationship
by having one who wants to carry the children
and one who wants to be the provider’”.
Although there were responsibilities associated
with bringing children into a lesbian family, some
people LOTL spoke to said that became less of
an issue once the baby was born.
“I identify more as a parent than lesbian parent,”
said Christy, “I feel more a part now of new
mother culture than I do the lesbian scene.”
“I’m also proud to be part of a new generation of
parents who are perfectly happy for lesbians to
be part of their culture. At our antenatal classes
the other couples were all happy that we were
there, and we all became good friends”.
To be involved in Karina Luzia’s research
on “Women Parenting Together” contact
Karina on (02) 9850 8410/0402 315 343 or
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