Krys Malcolm Belc's visual memoir-in-essays explores how the experience of gestational parenthood—conceiving, birthing, and breastfeeding his son Samson—eventually clarified his gender identity.
Krys Malcolm Belc has thought a lot about the interplay between parenthood and gender. As a nonbinary, transmasculine parent, giving birth to his son Samson clarified his gender identity. And yet, when his partner, Anna, adopted Samson, the legal documents listed Belc as “the natural mother of the child.” By considering how the experiences contained under the umbrella of “motherhood” don’t fully align with Belc’s own experience, The Natural Mother of the Child journeys both toward and through common perceptions of what it means to have a body and how that body can influence the perception of a family. With this visual memoir in essays, Belc has created a new kind of life record, one that engages directly with the documentation often thought to constitute a record of one’s life—childhood photos, birth certificates—and addresses his deep ambivalence about the “before” and “after” so prevalent in trans stories, which feels apart from his own experience. The Natural Mother of the Child is the story of a person moving past societal expectations to take control of his own narrative, with prose that delights in the intimate dailiness of family life and explores how much we can ever really know when we enter into parenting.
"Poignant . . . Reminiscent of Maggie Nelson’s Argonauts, Belc’s memoir is both personal and philosophical, resisting mainstream notions of gender and family while exploring the interplay between the body and the self." —Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed, Best Summer Books
"Punctuated by personal photos and documents, Belc's poetic writing renders his depictions of day-to-day family life and mundane domestic tasks compelling. His raw honesty is heartbreaking and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny. This is an absorbing book that challenges preconceived notions about what it means to be a parent. By reading it, one is sure to embark on their own inner journey—considering the pieces of one's life that have impacted their own sense of identity." —Adrienne Urbanski, Bust
The Natural Mother of the Child: A Memoir of Nonbinary Parenthood