At BADT, we are committed to being inclusive and uplifting the voices of a wide range of birth workers. We are so honored to share the work and words of three masculine doulas who are doing powerful work in their communities and the world.
We acknowledge that this field is often unnecessarily gendered, and we could not be more proud of the ways these folks are contributing to the reproductive justice movement. Be sure to read through and learn about and from Christian, Mac, and Teddy!
Christian A'Xavier Lovehall is a proud Black Trans man with Caribbean roots, from Philly known for his poetry, music and freedom fighting. By day, he is co-owner of FrootFly LLC, a freelance photographer and an unapologetic advocate for the most marginalized individuals and communities, including Black Trans individuals, people living with disAbilities, those who are undocumented and sex workers. By night, he is a HipHop artist, known as WORDZ The Poet Emcee, who works tirelessly to save the world from the influence of “wack emcees” with music many fans consider to be a “breath of fresh air”.
In 2011, Christian founded and organized the Philly Trans March, an annual rally, protest and march towards Trans equity and liberation. In 2013, Christian became a Certified Peer Specialist and has worked as a Recovery Specialist at Morris Home, the east coast’s first residential program for Trans and Gender non-conforming individuals in recovery from alcohol and other drugs.
In 2015, he founded and created The Free Ky Project, to help spread awareness about Ky Peterson and the untold stories of Black and Brown Trans Men, who are survivors of sexual assault. In 2016, Christian became the lead facilitator of the TransMasculine Advocacy Network (TMAN), a support and advocacy group for Trans men of Color in Philadelphia founded in 2006.
In 2017, Christian became a certified doula, affectionately known as Brotha Doula. By providing doula care that is inclusive of birthing trans men, gender non-conforming and non-binary individuals, Brotha Doula offers one-of-a-kind support to those who may not have access to non-judgmental, informed and confidential doula care. He is also a Board Member of DesireeAlliance and Strategic Committee member of The Black Sex Workers Collective.
Today, Christian continues to live his life spreading a message of peace, love and liberation “by any means necessary".
I began my doula journey after witnessing several friends of mine who were Trans, Queer and Gender Non-conforming, face violence and discrimination while pregnant and birthing.
Trained by Doula Trainings International (DTI) based in Brooklyn, NY, my focus is advocacy and overall liberation. Seeing the needs of LGBTQ+ individuals, especially Black Trans people, as an artist, revolutionary and freedom fighter, ultimately led me to seek my Doula certification, in order to be the change I wanted to see in the world. Reproductive justice is Social Justice.
Despite the important work I’m doing, I'm still not welcomed in many doula or birthworker spaces across the board. Doula is still seen by many (due to "white supremacy" and colonization) as a cis woman's job- supporting other cis women. So not only do I advocate for Trans, Non-binary and Gender Non-conforming pregnant and birthing individuals and their families, I also have to advocate for myself as a Black Trans man who is also a doula. People have forgotten or refuse to acknowledge that Trans people have always been a part of these traditions.
I would like to see more education and training programs for medical providers and staff to learn more about the pregnancy, laboring and birthing experiences of Black Trans men. There are numerous social and economic determinants of health that can create high risk situations for pregnant Black Trans men, causing chronic stress and even death. There's this intersectionality that continues to go ignored, between the experiences of pregnant Black cis women and Black Trans men. At the end of the day, we are being attacked by the same systems, even if we may experience systemic oppression in different ways. More awareness could literally save lives.
I envision the future of birth and reproductive justice to be more inclusive of LGBTQ+ individuals and lead by People of the Global Majority (falsely known as "minorities"), continuing to de-center white cis het experiences- a framework that should be used in all movements working towards liberation. Although important and of purpose, I envision us moving beyond conversations and think-pieces, and actually seeing real transformative change for those who need it most. Justice should not be something we continuously fight for or promote....it must be lived.
Mac Brydum is a Certified Birth and Postpartum Doula, Certified Childbirth Educator, and Certified Lactation Educator Counselor based in Seattle, WA. Mac passionately supports diverse families, and has extensive experience working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) families welcoming a baby by birth, surrogacy, or adoption. In March 2020, Mac and his spouse welcomed their daughter Rowan to the family.
I came to birth work via social work and social justice organizing. I previously worked on LGBTQ+ policy change as a community organizer. While I loved the work and certainly felt a sense of purpose, I missed the intimacy of connecting with people through vulnerable moments in their life.
I decided to refocus my life’s work in 2015 by training as a postpartum doula. The very first family I supported was a single mom who fostered (and ultimately, adopted) a newborn baby. That experience taught me so much about what new parents actually need in their early days, as I found simultaneously myself playing counselor, dog walker, house cleaner, and nanny. I went on to specialize in twin postpartum support, and some of my favorite families are gay couples who are growing their family by surrogacy.
Working as a postpartum doula eventually led to an interest in the broader spectrum of birth work, and I pursued additional training as a birth doula, lactation educator, and childbirth educator. In my private practice now, my focus is on trans and queer families. Trans masculine birthing people deserve culturally competent support from birth workers who share their identities and lived experiences, and can support their journey to parenthood with gentle and affirming practices.
My experience of gestating and birthing my child has also deeply informed my work in this field. Having this special connection to my child has been absolutely transformative, and motivates me to connect with other “seahorse papas” who already have children or are thinking about their parenting opportunities in the future. I especially enjoy coaching and supporting friends and acquaintances through their family-building journeys, including fertility treatments and other reproductive health decisions.
While masculine doulas are certainly not the norm in this field, the culture is changing and shifting - slowly. In the past six years I’ve been working in this field, I’ve seen many new masculine birth workers step into this work and provide excellent support to the families they serve. It’s wonderful to know that there are many other masculine doulas out there who are nurturing birthing people through the transformative experiences of pregnancy and birth, and perhaps even undoing toxic masculinity in the process!
The birth world is highly gendered, but as more and more queer and trans people become birth workers, and as more queer folks grow their families by giving birth, the dominant culture will shift. Masculine doulas are a piece of this puzzle! By bucking gender norms, we are a living example of gentle, emotionally attuned masculinity. I believe those traits to hold great power for revolution and transformation, especially when harnessed for good.
I envision a future where the birth and reproductive justice movements are inclusive of all people, where our leaders and policymakers are fierce advocates for Black and Brown lives with a keen focus on the unacceptably high Black birthing mortality rates in this country. I envision a future where LGBTQIA+ people have easy access to reproductive health care, including contraception, abortion, assisted reproductive services, HIV care, pregnancy care, parenting resources, and more. I envision a future where all movements for justice are truly intersectional, acknowledging the fact that our fights and our lives are inextricably intertwined.
My name is Timothy Gant, but I go by Teddy. I am a Full Spectrum Doula and Advocate. I recently started my path but I am constantly growing every day. I first found my passion for birth work when my mother told me her birth story. Hearing her experience while having me gave me a different outlook on life. It showed me how complex, yet beautiful pregnancy and birth can be. Every person on earth starts life this way, and I wanted to be able to help as many birthers as I can have a safe and successful birth. After hearing everything she dealt with, I felt obligated to dedicate my life to helping birthers have better experiences.
I am just starting on my path as a Doula, but my passion for helping Birthing People has been there forever. Birthers bring new life into this world and deserve to be supported throughout the full journey. I can’t personally birth a child, but the next best thing is to help those who can. Birthing people hold a very special place in my heart, so it is my duty to help each one have a safe, beautiful, and memorable birth experience.
The first time I had an interest in birth work I was 12 years old. It started with my mother. I sat her down one day and asked her about my birth. I was curious to know how her journey of having me was. I'm the only child, and her one and only pregnancy and birth. At the time, I was learning about how the body and reproductive system works and functions. My knowledge of birth at this time was that babies came through vaginal canal. However, in this conversation with my mother, I learned that she gave birth by cesarean section.
I didn't really know what that was at the time. and so that just sparked my interest to find out. She did her best to explain it to me. She explained that every time she had a contraction, my heart rate would drop, and at some point, it dropped so low that the doctor decided I needed to be born as soon as possible-- by surgical birth.
Learning my birth story really intrigued me and sparked my interest-- the fact that babies can be born this way. I wanted to learn more about cesareans. What was the cause? Why did she have to go through that? Why do many other birthers have to go through this?
My birth work journey started from there! Ever since then, I have had a special place in my heart for birthing people and felt a deep desire to support them. Especially as someone who can’t physically birth a child, the next best thing that I knew I could do was help those who are giving birth.
When I decided to explore this work professionally, I didn't know what a midwife or a doula was. All I knew about were gynecologists. So initially, I thought this is the route that I wanted to go.
I knew that there were a lot of other males that are in that profession, so I didn't feel like I would be “outcast” per se. However, as I got older, I learned more about the medical system and it operates, and I couldn't morally see myself working as a doctor.
Once I graduated high school and started college, I became curious about other routes towards my passion of helping birthing people have safe and successful births. This is when I discovered midwifery and options for out of hospital births, such as home birth and birth center births. While I was watching a home birth online one day, I saw someone helping the partner and the birther and became curious. Who are they and what is their role? This is when I found out about doulas.
It gave me a lot of joy to know that I didn’t have to go through 12 years of school in order to start helping birthing people. The work of a doula is more holistic and client-centered, and that’s what I want to be.
Additionally, in my research about midwifery and doulas, I started learning about the disparities among Black people and people of color in the hospital system, and this sparked my passion even more. This pushed me to become an advocate and to contribute to ending these unjust disparities, first as a doula, and down the line as a midwife.
Like I said before, I've seen a lot of male OBs, but when I started looking at midwives and doulas, I didn't see any faces that resemble mine. I was really hesitant to step into birth work because I wasn’t sure that I was going to be accepted or if I’d be denied or turned away.
I'm so glad I found Sabia (the CEO and Founder of BADT) because she helped me see a future in this work. My wife encouraged me to go for it, too!
As I learned more about doulas, one thing that stood out to me is the amount of support that I could give to the partners. I felt excited about teaching them and connecting with them because they are often left out of the conversations. I'm eventually going to be a birth partner one day alongside my wife, so I connect on a personal level, too.
I have a lot of doula friends who have reached out to me to process. They’ve asked for support on connecting with partners who aren’t engaging in the conversations. Sometimes people's egos get in the way, especially if they aren’t connecting with the person they are hearing from.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount of support that I've gotten along the way. Honestly, I really thought that I was going to be turned away and neglected or taken as a joke. I've realized that my experience has been the total opposite. I'm so glad I found BADT because they're all inclusive. They definitely included me and my masculine presence. Already, I have already been able to connect with a range of clients, from partners who are cis males, to families who are queer or in same-sex partnerships.
My masculine presence is something some people gravitate toward. They may feel more at peace and relaxed with me and open up in a way that they probably wouldn't open up to someone else.
Another thing that has stood out to me is the way that my physical presence can be a benefit. I can offer counterpressure and other comfort measures due to my physical strength. I’ve also had the opportunity to support a client who needed to be supported physically to move from one space to another or one position to another.
To be completely honest, with the way the medical industrial complex is already set up, I don't see it just changing overnight. We're going to have to go through a lot more before challenge before we see the light at the end of the tunnel, especially the past couple years you know with the pandemic and the ways this has impacted our systems.
That said, I do see a bright future. A lot more advocacy is going to have to be done to get there. One thing I foresee in the future is a lot more doulas and midwives. This could be less you know deaths in the hospital, the less misinformed people, less anxiety and stress with birthing. We will see less cesarean births. In the US, 1 out of every 3 births is a cesarean birth. All 3 birthing people would be low risk, and these statistics would still be the same.
Overall, I envision a future where birthing people are more informed, educated, and respected. People would be heard when they advocate for themselves or their partner or client. The transformations I mentioned in the last answer are things that would greatly impact and create the future I want to see for birthing people.
I am completely transparent with my clients, and let them know all the risks and benefits of everything they are considering. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, and it’s my job to help people understand and process it all. This process is what we call evidence-based care and informed consent.