Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Law, Gender studies, GLBT studies, Family law, Reproductive technology, Assisted reproduction, Kinship studies, Queer theory, Feminist theory, Science and technology studies, Sociolegal studies
The global advent of assisted human reproduction has brought with it an upheaval in social, cultural and legal norms of the family. The centrality of biological reproduction to the traditional heterosexual family has been challenged by reproductive intervention, further destabilizing nuclear family norms already unmoored by same-sex marriage, single mothers, unwed fathers, and increased access to divorce, contraceptives and abortion. As these challenges have shifted EuroAmerican social norms of family, the law has increasingly been called upon to preside over the re-organization of intimate life, operating as a central vehicle to reframe the relationship of the family to the state. This relationship remains critical, as the family remains the preeminent social institution and the conduit through which both biological and social reproduction are performed. The traditional family has thus become the site of considerable anxiety, and perhaps nowhere more so than in regard to assisted human reproduction (AHR).
This dissertation argues that the complex outcomes of blood, genetics, sociality and affiliation created through reproductive technology, and the legal struggles they engender, cannot be understood as mere deviations from the heterosexually reproductive family. Instead, it invites exploration of the sociality and legal bonds created by the inherently non-reproductive family as a locus to understand the decoupling of sex from reproduction that is being produced through AHR. It draws from more than 1200 pages of interview transcripts with lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit and queer [LGBTQ] Canadians who have used or considered using reproductive assistance, and reflects upon this data to examine the assumptions of law, nature, technology and kinship that drive the conceptual vocabularies of AHR. Its central contention is for the utility of a queer perspective on reproductive law and technology, as a way to pry open cognate issues around kinship, biology, sociality and the order of family. By placing LGBTQ participant voices at the fore, this dissertation offers a fresh analysis on complex questions of parentage, child-rearing and the legal regulation of intimacy.
Marvel, Stewart Donnell, "Tracking Queer Kinships: Assisted Reproduction, Family Law and the Infertility Trap" (2015). PhD Dissertations. 16.