Getting Real: Illuminating Our Queer Conception Story

Bethany Frazier

This story was originally published on the Maven Made Journal. Maven Made is a proudly queer-owned organic skincare and wellness company out of Richmond, VA. You can view their store and order online here.

Image by Carly Romeo

Well, it’s official, I am pregnant.

It still feels unreal, but when I feel Gummi (that’s they’re nickname, I mean we had to give them one!) kick, it sinks in that this is real. It’s happening. We did it.

The long and winding road for queer people to get to this phase is rarely smooth, straightforward, or simple. This goes the same for couples facing fertility issues and single people trying to conceive. In a way, we’re all in the same ocean, all sailing on different boats.

But in reality, this winding road never ends. From ignorant questions like, “but who’s the father?” and “who’s the mom and who’s the dad in the relationship?”, thoughtless turkey baster jokes (which I’m guilty of in the past) to a lack of representation in media or the general cisgender heteronormative societal standards we’re constantly up against. Luckily, we have pretty rad family, friends, and support systems, so these things haven’t been problematic, but when it comes to the outside world, beyond our safe spaces and bubble, its always unknown territory.

One thing this journey has taught me is there is a huge void in resources, support, and visibility when in comes to queer family planning, fertility, conception, pregnancy and parenting. I’m an open book when it feels needed and helpful, and especially now when it comes to navigating this wild, confusing, sometimes defeating, and joyful journey. I always believe that transparency and sharing stories have the potential to lead to change, normalization, and better representation. So here’s my part in that.

Because I was searching for these resources, and now I’ve experienced them, I can share a little about our conception road and how we did it. Please note, this is what worked for us, every situation will be different based on your body, what you have access to, and what privileges you have (financial, time, support, transportation, etc).


For us: This one was easy for us, my wife has no desire to be pregnant, and I’ve always wanted to be pregnant.

For others: This might not be as simple as our situation, sometimes both partners want to carry a child, and sometimes none want to or can. Oftentimes the older partner will try to carry first to experience the pregnancy, fertility testing may take place to see which partner is more medically “ideal” to carry, or a surrogate/adoption becomes an option.


For us: For same-sex or trans couples (and single folx) with a uterus, this is the most common logistical part and rightfully so! This was also the hardest, defeating, and longest part of our journey. We both strongly felt going with a known donor (friend) was the best choice for us, versus using unknown sperm from a sperm/cryobank donor. This decision was rooted in multiple reasons, including wanting to verify the character and ethics of the person helping us create our family, and with access to fresh sperm, the cost would (hopefully) be less expensive than getting it from a cryobank. Lastly, we wanted our child to have a open connection with our “gift giver”. Like many families, ours both had enough secrets, we wanted to end that narrative and start our own family with full transparency and honesty. And the donor? It’s our very good friend who will take the role as an uncle figure in our child’s life.

For others: Every couple or person will feel different about this, and all those feelings and direction you choose to take are 100% valid. There are two paths to take if you or your partner (both having uteruses) wants to carry: unknown donor or known donor. Cryobanks (Fairfax Cryobank is top notch here on the east coast) even offer some known donor options (usually with no contact until the child turns 18), so it really depends on what you prefer. If you go down the known donor route like we did with a friend or family, I cannot stress enough how important it is to get a Known Donor Agreement, more on that below.


For us: Since we chose to use sperm from a friend, we needed to secure a Known Donor Agreement before we started trying to conceive. This legal document (find an example agreement here) essential acts as a conscious agreement between the intended parents and the individual who is donating their genetic material (sperm) for the conception. In a nutshell, this pricey (but needed) document ensures all parties are on the same page regarding access, relationships, roles, and relinquishing parental rights for the donor. It merely helps protect all parties from any future legal mishaps. The document can be edited and customized to fit your situation and agreed desires.

The logistics and cost: My wife and I needed to hire a lawyer (we went with Richmond-based Sherry Fox of Thompson McMullin), and our friend (donor) needed to hire a lawyer as well (which we paid for, we chose Anna Ernest of VA Beach-based Ernest Law Group). In total, the cost came to $1,750.

For others: If you choose the Cryobank route, a Known Donor Agreement is unnecessary since the registered donor has already relinquished their parental rights and contact (depending on the type of donor profile) upon donating their sperm the facility.

Please note: The legal process doesn’t end with conception. No matter what route you take (cryobank or known donor), the non-gestating parent (in our case, my wife) will need to obtain a Second Parent Adoption once the child is born. Yes, that’s right; my legal wife will need to “adopt” our child after they are born to secure full parentage rights. Second Parent Adoption requirements can vary depending on the state and jurisdiction you reside in, and some states require a home visit from social services. Just to give you some figures, in Virginia, we will be using Sherry again, and it will cost us around $1,200, that’s not including potential court fees (and home visit costs, if you’re in a state that requires it).

Bananas right? This is why the Supreme Court picks and elections are so crucial for LGBTQ+ folx. Finding out the whole 2015 passing “Marriage equality” really does not exist is eyeopening. VOTE.


For us: Call it whatever you want – conceiving, insemination, or baby-making – our plans changed drastically due to COVID-19.

Our dream was to inseminate in the comfort of our home, but after talking it through a little more, we decided to move forward with the more medicalized IUI (intrauterine insemination) with Dr. Banks at VCU Reproductive Medicine and Endocrinology. In our initial appointment, we quickly learned the leap into the action of insemination would take time as I was pushed towards lots of testing (genetic screening, blood tests, hormone screening, ultrasounds, and a pretty invasive Hysterosalpingography procedure) before getting to the final IUI step. I guess it made medical sense to make sure my “advanced maternal age” parts were in peak conception condition, but it almost felt like we were immediately placed in an infertility box where my body was already being scrutinized, the costs were building, and there were a few moments where there was a complete lack of consent and understanding.

Then COVID happened and it shifted everything. Right when I had scheduled appointments for testing, our clinic shut down temporarily. Our “dream plan” popped into my head, so I brought it up to my wife with the conversation introduction, “just give it some thought, but what if we tried this on own own…”. Luckily, our thoughts were very much in alignment, and we decided to give home insemination a few tries to see what happened. If it worked, we’d bypass at least $1,500 in medical costs (for one round of IUI), costly testing, and being in a medical environment during the peak of a pandemic. If it didn’t work, we’d keep moving forward in the direction we were going in and would have to wait until the clinic opened again.

We purchased a pack of Mosie syringes to inseminate at home during my two peak ovulation days, and we settled on May being our first “try” month. I had been tracking my cycles for an entire year (taping these inexpensive test strips in a journal), so we were clear when I was ovulating. We even doubled up with a pack of Clear Blue Digital tests (our midwife recommends the “Digital”, not the “Digital Advanced”) just to be sure, especially since our friend (donor) would be on-call to do his thing so we could pick it up.

On May 21st both tests confirmed I was ovulating, so we gave our friends the heads up and picked up the goods outside of his home, and yes, it kind of looked like a drug deal – brief and silent. We sped home, put our dog in the backyard, propped my hips up on a couple of pillows, and my wife made it happen. I remained propped up for an hour while talking with my wife about what takeout we should order and recapping last weeks Real Housewives of New York nonsense. The next evening, a New Moon in Gemini, we did it all over again (since I was still in my ovulation window), and that night our baby was conceived.

For others: Conception looks different for every BODY, and our sitatuation was rare (in fact, it’s about a 5% first time success rate for someone my age) and should not be a comparison for others. Conception options include ICI (intracervial insemination, exactly what our home insemination is classified as), IUI (intrauterine insemination, where sperm is inserted directly into the uterus using a catheter), IVF (In-vitro fertilization, where fertilization occurs outside of the body with harevested egg and sperm and then the best fertilized eggs are inserted into the uterus using a catheter). You can also create your family using a surrogate or through adoption.


Insurance coverage is sparse and often non-existent for queer folx trying to conceive. Insurance covered a bit of my testing (bloodwork and genetic testing) at our fertility clinic but would not cover our IUI’s until we had a certain amount of unsuccessful attempts, and by that time, we’d be financially drained. I encourage you to talk to your insurance provider to see what they do and don’t cover, so you’re aware of your coverage and benefits.

Finding support…

Aligning with other queer people on this conception and pregnancy journey has provided me with monumental support and empowerment. I appreciate all the love and encouragement from my straight friends, but they aren’t equipped with the experiences, challenges, or navigated the conversations we face. QUEER COMMUNITY IS VITAL.

One particular space that has been the safest, comforting, and validating forms of support has been through this virtual group (we Zoom every Friday) created byLove Over Fear Wellness and Birth. This space exists for LGBTQIA2+ folx who are trying to conceive, who are pregnant, and who are parents.

JB of Love Over Fear Wellness and Birth is also the creator of “Queer + Pregnant: A Pregnancy Journal”, which is needed in the sea of feminine and heteronormative pregnancy journals. I highly recommend it, no matter where you are in your planning, fertility, conception, pregnancy, or parenting journey.

Seattle-based MAIA Midwifery offers a vartiety of online classes and support groups for LGBTQIA2+ folx including IVF, insemination and parenting support groups to childbirth classes and virtual fertility visits.

Choosing to work and support educators, midwives, and a doula who very queer-friendly has been so very important to us. I always think how can queer pregnancy become normalized without supporting and paying for services from queer folx? So we’re putting that into action. Our care provider is the super inclusive and trauma-informed River City Midwifery. We are going to sign up for (virtual) birthing classes through Kristin Kali at MAIA Midwifery, and our doula will be Christina Evans of Blooming Birth.

For all you Reddit enthusiasts, there’s also a Queerception subreddit group that is an excellent resource for community and connection.

Some other supportive spaces and birth workers (most provide virtual groups/workshops):

LGBTQ Birth (birth education and support groups)
Trans Fertility Co. (training, education, and resources for trans fertility)
Family Equality (support, advocacy, resources, and resources)
Woven Bodies (digital practice supporting queer folks + allies from family planning through parenthood)
Moss The Doula (Baltimore-based trans & queer-centered full-spectrum doula and childbirth educator)
Love Over Fear Wellness and Birth (Austin-based transmasc non-binary full-spectrum doula and educator)
Queer Birthworker (full-spectrum birth worker and body and gender-affirming facilitator)
The Educated Birth (resources/materials for reproductive health to prepare parents for well-informed, empowering birth and more)
Quinn Law Center (Richmond-based law group specializing in LGBTQ+ family law and resources)

IUI, Fresh Inseminations, and a Home Birth Story

I was excited to come across this queer family’s conception and birth story on The Birth Hour podcast, and wanted to share their experience.

From the Birth Hour: “Caitlin and her wife had a difficult time navigating the barriers faced by queer couples trying to conceive. After two years and many failed IUIs, they decided to take a different route and try at home inseminations with a known donor. She hoped that removing the stress of the fertility clinic would help her body welcome pregnancy. She was right! And shortly thereafter Caitlin finally got the positive pregnancy test she had been longing for.”

Listen to their story here.

Baby Ruth

When we decided to have a baby, we were in agreement to use a known donor. For Hunter, this was driven by a desire for as little medical intervention in the conception process as possible. Basha is a second-generation queer who was conceived with an anonymous sperm donor, and found that anonymity very disempowering; for her, it was important to give our child the knowledge about their donor that she didn’t have.

We came up with a list of criteria for known donors. We wanted our donor to be Jewish, live locally, and be interested in having a non-parental relationship with our child. Though we considered this to be minimal criteria, we couldn’t think of anyone to ask.

We drafted an email to send our to our community asking for donor recommendations, and worked on getting up the nerve to ask distant acquaintances. Meanwhile, we enrolled in an 8-week class called “Maybe Baby” at the local feminist therapy center. We already knew almost everything there was to know about getting pregnant thanks to our bible, “The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth,” but we took the class hoping to meet other queer prospective parents. When we mentioned to a friend from class that we were having trouble finding a Jewish donor, she immediately thought of her good friend S, who might be interested in helping us. She asked S that night, and they said they would consider it, so the next week we were set up on a blind date of sorts.

We liked S right away, but the process of courting a previously-unknown-to-us known donor was awkward at times, and we all took it slow. S told us that they had two goals: one, to enact the world they desire to live in, where queer people share sperm in order to help each other create families; and two, to have more children in their life that they could have a loving, non-parent relationship with. This was exactly what we were looking for, but it still took time to build a relationship that we could envision continuing for the rest of our lives, and to develop the trust needed to make a baby with someone who would legally have parental rights over our child for a few months. We got to know each other, ate pizza, and felt it out in a non-committal way. In the meantime, S got some basic labs done to make sure their sperm was viable, we read “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” cover to cover, and we both tracked our cycles. We spent many hours in conversation with each other about who would get pregnant first, and came to a tentative decision that it would be Hunter.

After months of process, S came to us and told us that they had decided to start HRT in about 3 months. Once on HRT, S would stop producing sperm; if we wanted to make a baby with their sperm, we had to do it now. They agreed to bank sperm so that we could have a genetically related sibling down the road. We realized that we could maximize our chances of conceiving by taking turns inseminating, since we were ovulating about two weeks apart. We got a bag of leftover insemination supplies from friends who had just had twins, bought a bunch of pregnancy tests, and were ready to start trying.

S lives just two blocks away, so the technicalities of inseminating were easy. Hunter met S on their porch, picked up the small plastic cup full of what we hoped would become our baby, and rushed home. The first time that Hunter emptied the syringe up by Basha’s cervix, all the semen spilled right back out, and had to be drawn back up and inserted again. We tried again the next day, but two weeks later, Basha got her period. Luckily, that the same day Hunter became fertile. This time it was Basha meeting S on their porch, trading semen for banana bread, and carrying it the two blocks home between her boobs to keep it warm.

Between insemination attempts, S went to the clinic every few days to freeze sperm for baby #2. This was a huge undertaking for them, and to their credit, they never complained. We had talked to a local fertility clinic and learned that for us to have a known donor freeze sperm, it would cost a minimum of $2500, and would involve a lot of red tape. But, if S was the client instead of us, and froze sperm as a part of their gender transition, it was a quick and affordable process. This workaround saved us thousands of dollars.

Impatient for a positive, we started testing only a week after inseminating Hunter, and Hunter was pregnant. Hunter’s first try, and our second ever attempt – we couldn’t believe it. Ten months later, right on her due date, Ruth was born.

There are a few other interesting components to our conception and birth story. One is that we planned a homebirth with a queer midwife (Ray). We share so much queer community with her, that on the day Hunter went into labor, she had to cancel her plans to attend a potluck… that happened to be at our donor’s house! S texted us that night to say they hoped we were the labor she was called to, and wished us good luck. We also had an incredible queer doula working with us, with whom we have stayed in touch. Although Hunter’s rising blood pressure necessitated a hospital birth, we were luckily greeted by a hospital staff that let our our midwife and doula facilitate almost the entire birth, and Hunter managed an unmedicated labor much like the one we had planned at home.

Another unique aspect of our story is that Basha decided to induce lactation so that we could no-nurse. For Basha, it felt like a way to be connected to our baby without having been the biological or gestational parent. She used the Newman Goldfarb protocol, which involved taking medications that were hard on her body and mental health, and pumping 7x/day for the month leading up to our baby’s birth. Once Ruth was born, she had a tongue tie, so nursing was much more complicated than we imagined. However, almost 7 months later, we are still co-nursing our baby. And Basha will be adopting Ruth next week, where we will be celebrating with our local family, including Basha’s non-gestational mom who adopted her almost 20 years ago.

Paths to parenthood

In my daily life, I get to help queers get pregnant and birth babies. It’s pretty amazing.

From this work, I’ve decided to start this blog to tell the stories of how queers create families.

Queer conception is confusing, there’s no roadmap for us and the health systems that exist aren’t designed for our needs.

But our community is resilient, and through telling our experience are showing others how to make babies and queer the path to parenthood.

This blog are the stories of our community. If you would like to tell yours, email me at with the story you would like posted and any details, resources, or pictures you would like to share.

If you’re in the Philly area, I host a list serve and potluck for LBGTQ folks who are trying to conceive, pregnant, or have new babies. Email me to join.