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Reproducing Racial Fictions: Critical Meditations on (a) Lesbian Pregnancy

This essay meditates on the incoherence of the history of race and family through the lens of contemporary lesbian pregnancy. The presence of two mothers—in this case, one white and one black—alongside the simultaneous irrelevance and hyperrelevance of paternity tugs at the tangled American historical threads of race and family in ways that ultimately surface a variety of fantasies that shape both. Here I consider the ways that lesbian reproduction makes legible, and complicates, the historical feminization and racialization of reproduction, given that the extraneousness of paternity underscores at once a kind of chosen paternity, the necessity of paternity, and the irrelevance of paternity. If the double-mother scenario invokes the tiresome “who’s the father?” question, in which heteronormative models of familiality assert themselves even in the scene of queer kinship formations, then the real shadow of lesbian reproduction is another question: “Who’s the (real) mother?” I argue that the scene of lesbian pregnancy exposes histories and fictions of race, kinship, and legitimacy, and ultimately raises and recalls tensions between the political impulses of queerness and the histories of race.