Craven&Peel_2017_postprint.pdf (218.35 kB)
Download file

Queering reproductive loss: Exploring grief and memorialization

Download (218.35 kB)
posted on 16.11.2017, 13:13 by Christa Craven, Elizabeth PeelElizabeth Peel
LGBTQ communities have a long history of memorializing loss—The NAMES Project or AIDS memorial quilt, the Transgender Day of Remembrance, art and fiction memorializing the Stonewall riots. Yet the subject of reproductive loss—including miscarriage, infant death and failed adoptions—has often been a silent burden for LGBTQ parents. Few LGBTQ-oriented guides to conception or adoption even mention loss, and most self-help material on reproductive loss is geared toward heterosexual, married (often white, middle class, and Christian) couples. This chapter centers on the personal narratives collected by two researchers—an American anthropologist and a British psychologist —who met online after their own experiences with pregnancy loss as queer women. We present the stories of queer people—primarily lesbian and bisexual women, but also several gay men and transpeople—as they have experienced reproductive loss. These stories are drawn from Peel’s online survey of 60 non-heterosexual women from the UK, USA, Canada and Australia and Craven’s 50 interviews with LGBTQ people who had experienced loss in the USA and Canada. We argue that for LGBTQ people, challenges in achieving conception and adoption amplify experiences of loss and that the severely under-researched experiences of non-biological parents offer important insights into the range of experience with reproductive loss. This chapter highlights the diverse memorialization strategies for reproductive loss that are practiced within LGBTQ communities suggesting that these often actively challenge heteronormative assumptions about loss and grief, as well as expectations of belonging, community and family formation. Through personal stories and photos, this chapter examines physical memorials, religious/spiritual services, and the increasingly popular use of commemorative tattoos and art by grieving LGBTQ parents as strategies for “marking” their experience personally, as well as within their communities.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Published in

Interrogating Pregnancy Loss: Feminist writings on abortion, miscarriage and stillbirth.


225 - 245


CRAVEN, C. and PEEL, E., 2017. Queering reproductive loss: Exploring grief and memorialization. IN: Lind, E.R.M. and Deveau, A. (eds). Interrogating Pregnancy Loss: Feminist Writings on Abortion, Miscarriage, and Stillbirth. Bradford, Ontario: Demeter Press, pp. 225-245.


Demeter Press


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

Publication date



This book chapter appears here with the kind permission of Demeter Press.