How to Be
a Pregnant Butch

A.K. Summers was adopted, and when she hit her mid-thirties she felt a fierce longing to be connected to someone biologically. But as a butch lesbian, she hadn’t ever imagined that motherhood was in the cards for her. In 2003 she took the plunge and got pregnant, all the while fearing that her tough masculine identity would be destroyed by early motherhood. AK chronicled her “nine long months spent in drag” in her fabulous graphic memoir Pregnant Butch. In this episode, A.K. talks about the true story that inspired the book. Below are some of my favorite pages from Pregnant Butch. But really, you should read all of them. Seriously. This is my favorite pregnancy and childbirth book ever.

Pregnant Butch Excerpts
Some people go for tops with ruching; some go for maternity jeans with the elastic waists. A.K. had her own ideas about maternity style.


A.K.’s take on natural birth guru Ina May Gaskin.


At the end of her pregnancy, A.K. felt like she’d be pregnant forever. “There’s no use denying it,” she wrote. “I am eternal woman.”


After giving birth, A.K. says she felt like a Russian prize fighter. And, to her great surprise, breastfeeding actually made her feel tough—and didn’t at all diminish her masculine presentation.


A.K. in Real Life

A.K. with her son Franklin and co-parent Alison

A.K. with her son Franklin and co-parent Alison

A.K.’s son Franklin has interesting fashion choices of his own. As a toddler he dressed almost exclusively as a firefighter; recently he went to school in what he called “Colonial Dress” (wool socks up to his knees over corduroys with a vest and homemade tri-corner hat). And then there was his monochrome phase.

For awhile there, Franklin would only wear clothes that were ALL the same color

For awhile there, Franklin would only wear clothes that were ALL the same color

LGBTQ Parenting Resources
Lots of lesbian moms from our Facebook Mamas group say they enjoyed The Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth when figuring out how to start a family in the first place.

Getting Pregnant with Michelle Tea from xoJane is a super entertaining blog about a 40-year-old “single queer lady who hardly knows a single sperm-producing man” trying to have a baby. Michelle also started MUTHA magazine, a website dedicated to telling stories of families of all stripes.

What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg is a great picture book about all the different ways families can be made.

Leslea Newman’s Mommy, Mama, and Me is a board book that presents same-sex motherhood as just a regular old thing. If you’re looking for a picture book that doesn’t call attention to the differentness of having two mommies, this is the book for you.

Have YOU been a pregnant butch? Been in a relationship with one?
Tell us what it was like for you. And add your resources and butch maternity wear recommendations in the comments!

Call for Sex Advice Questions
In this show I mentioned that we are taking sex advice questions for our Sex Series, which will launch in January. Please submit your struggles in the sack on this form by October 29 for our sexperts Dan Savage and Jane Marie.

Illustrations: A.K. Summers

20 thoughts on “EPISODE #41: How to Be a Pregnant Butch

  1. I was thrilled when I saw this book and it was great to hear your interview with AK, with whom I was friendly in college. I was also pregnant butch ten years ago and faced similar struggles. As it was winter and I am a tall person, most people thought I was a fat man through my whole pregnancy. I’m a doctor and some of my patients were surprised when I was out on maternity leave. I felt like people didn’t expect me to get pregnant because I’m butch! I’ve never been unhappy to be a woman and I had an amazing pregnancy. And the best part is being a mom to my two boys (only one of whom I carried). Butchy women can be just as maternal as anyone else. At least this butch can….

  2. I’m not totally butch, but definitely too butch for maternity wear. Mostly i wore baggy shirts and unbuttoned cardigans, with my partner’s bigger jeans under my belly. Mens’ singlet undershirts are pretty long, so covered any belly that poked out. Then i found instructions for making regular pants into maternity pants, and replaced a few waistbands of mens’ pants with elastic. That was way more comfortable for the last month or two. Sometimes i also wore maternity wear that had been given to me, and just avoided mirrors so i could be in denial about my gender presentation. For breastfeeding i still wear singlets or tank tops underneath then just the usual t-shirt or button-down overtop. T-shirt comes up, tank top pulls down, and there’s no need to wear a flowery tent or bother with nursing tops.

  3. I can’t help but laugh at the top cartoon because at 8 months pregnant I actually did have to wear a hard hat. As part of my job I had to make presentations on a barge shipyard – hard hat, steel toe boots and safety goggles. Several times I was referred to as “that pregnant chick” – most of those I was speaking to were men. ..

  4. LOVED this episode!! Newish to the podcast and I have been binging the old episodes. I have my Bachelor’s in Women’s Studies, so this discussion of gender representation (especially during pregnancy) was a real treat!

    I am 14 weeks pregnant with my first baby and starting to get a little tummy–and I am not thrilled by a majority of the maternity clothes I’ve seen on offer. While I do like dresses and makeup and those sorts of “traditionally feminine” things, I also tend to dress in dark or bold colors. I do have some pink and lace in my closet, but I have lots more black and red and gray with graphic patterns, colorblocking, or simple silhouettes. The prospect of finding decently priced, work-appropriate, and attractive clothes that fit my style is a little daunting. I’m planning to make a few basic skirts for work and I’m scouring the internet for tops that I don’t hate.

  5. Hillary, you were kind of a bull in a china shop in this episode. AK is BUTCH not trans. You need to learn your LGBT terminology…I was cringing for most of the episode :-O

    1. Anna, I’m sorry to hear you felt my questions were misguided in this episode. I will admit to being a little out of my element when it comes to LGBT terminology. But. I think the only way for straight people to learn the terminology is to have conversations with people from the LGBT community. After having done this interview, and the Accidental Gay Parents series, I am so much more well-versed in LGBT language, and I hope that these shows have helped thousands of listeners to get there as well. I believe that the best way for people to have a better understanding of LGBT issues and identities is to hear people from the community speak about those differences. And maybe it even helps to hear me stumble awkwardly along the way. (That’s why we left those parts in.)

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