Family Proclamations: Exploring Relationships, Gender, and Sexuality-logo

Family Proclamations: Exploring Relationships, Gender, and Sexuality

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There’s no single way to be a family. And every kind of family has something we can learn from. Host Blair Hodges explores the history and evolution of family structures, gender, and sexuality.


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There’s no single way to be a family. And every kind of family has something we can learn from. Host Blair Hodges explores the history and evolution of family structures, gender, and sexuality.



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Building LGBTQ Families (with Abbie E. Goldberg)

With the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, queer families are more visible today than ever. But the path to becoming a parent is complicated for LGBTQ people. Dr. Abbie E. Goldberg, psychologist and researcher, provides LGBTQ parents and prospective parents with the detailed, evidence‑based knowledge they need to navigate the transition to parenthood and help their children thrive. Her evidence-based research can benefit all families. Transcript ABBIE GOLDBERG: For me, it would have been a light bulb even to see one LGBT family and to know this was something that was real, and this was happening. But it wasn't being talked about. And the invalidation those families face is heartbreaking to me because it doesn't have to be this way. Everyone's families can be recognized as valid. We don't have to demonize certain kinds of families. BLAIR HODGES: When Abbie Goldberg was growing up with two moms, she didn't see any families that looked like hers. People had a lot of questions about LGBTQ families, like whether kids like Abbie would turn out alright being raised in a queer household. Today, Abbie's a clinical psychologist and an internationally recognized scholar of LGBTQ families. She's an expert on how queer families are made—especially the practical and legal obstacles they face. She also understands the strength these families bring to the family-making enterprise. In this episode, Abbie joins us to talk about her new book, LGBTQ Family Building: A Guide for Prospective Parents. There are many ways to be a family, and every kind of family has something we can learn from. I'm Blair Hodges, and this is Family Proclamations. MAKING FAMILIES VISIBLE – 1:43 BLAIR HODGES: Abbie E. Goldberg joins us today on Family Proclamations. Abbie, it's really great to have you on the show. ABBIE GOLDBERG: Thank you so much for having me. BLAIR HODGES: You've done decades of research, you've written a lot of journal articles, a lot of books and academic work about LGBTQ families. What inspired you to write about this topic and to research this as your career? ABBIE GOLDBERG: I'm going to go way back. I was raised in a queer parent family myself in the eighties, mostly in the suburbs of New York. I did not see my family represented in most media depictions of families and most of what we were reading about families in school. I grew up thinking a lot about what families are visible and what families are invisible. I was always really passionate about trying to understand and to make visible different kinds of families. BLAIR HODGES: Wow. That was well before, obviously, the legalization of same-sex marriage. What was that like for you? Were you only child? Siblings? What was the family like? ABBIE GOLDBERG: I have two brothers, one much older than me and one younger. We experienced our heterosexual parent's relationship dissolution at different times in our life. So it shaped us, I think, in different ways. Our family from the outside looked pretty typical, like a divorced family. On the inside, my mother was partnered with a woman. That was really not something most people knew. It was only something we started talking about when I went to college, maybe late in high school. A few people knew, but it was mostly a secret. I thought a lot about that over the last couple of decades, about how keeping those kinds of secrets—when there's really nothing wrong with your family as it is, it's that it's just not accepted in the broader society—how that can shape kids. BLAIR HODGES: That makes me think of two things. One, the fact that there’s been a sea change here in your own lifetime, you're a part of a big change in visibility for families. Also, the fact that families like this have always existed in some way, or people have always been experiencing feelings in love, and trying to make that work in a society that hasn't always been accepting. The work you're doing for prospective parents in this book is really valuable....


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Separation Revolution (with April White)

Divorce can be a difficult process today, but it's nothing compared to what it used to be. In the late 1800s, women from around the country had to fight for the right to separate from their husbands on their own terms. April White tells their stories and how they still impact us today in her fascinating book, The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier. April White has served as an editor and writer at Atlas Obscura and Smithsonian Magazine. Her historical stories have also appeared in publications including the Washington Post, Boston Globe Magazine and The Atavist Magazine. Transcript APRIL WHITE: Each of these women goes out to Sioux Falls for a very personal reason. We start to see the shift in the understanding of divorce. These women have very little traditional power at this moment in history. They are not in any of the rooms where divorce and divorce law are going to be debated. They're not in the legislatures. They're not in the judiciary. They're not in the White House. They're not in religious circles. They're not in those conversations. Yet, they are driving those conversations. BLAIR HODGES: Once upon a time in the late 1800s, Sioux Falls, South Dakota became the hot destination for women from all over the United States. These women weren't coming to see the famous Sioux Falls, they weren't looking for land, or to find husbands. In fact, they came to this frontier of the American nation looking to get rid of husbands. They were looking for the fastest and easiest path to get a divorce. Because in the 19th century, it was almost impossible to get one anywhere else. This wasn't a private process either. It played out in public, in the courtroom, in the press. It was like an old time TMZ saga. Historian April White says these women were really looking for personal solutions to personal problems, but their efforts helped change divorce laws for the entire country in ways that still matter today. April White joins us now to talk about her book, The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier. There's no one right way to be a family, and every kind of family has something we can learn from. I'm Blair Hodges, and this is Family Proclamations. April White, welcome to Family Proclamations. APRIL WHITE: Thank you so much for having me. RISING DIVORCE RATES (1:54) BLAIR HODGES: We're talking about your book, The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier. You're taking us back in time a little bit, this is the turn of the century. We're heading into the year 1900 here. In that last decade of the 1800s, there were some headlines that were popping up around the country that you point out in your book, and the headlines were alarmed. The people were alarmed. The question was, is marriage a failure? Why would they ask that question in the late 1800s? APRIL WHITE: In this moment, you're seeing rising divorce rates. The people who are particularly alarmed by this, and it's most often the clergy, can't imagine that divorce is a good thing. They only see this as an evil. They imagined that somehow marriage is falling apart. What's really happening is marriages are as good or as bad as they've ever been. There's just more opportunity now—economic, political, social, legal—there's more opportunity for spouses to go their separate ways if they are unhappy in their marriage. They're saying they're very concerned about marriage, but what they're really concerned about is divorce because they want to keep this building block of the country to gather these ideas of the family, is really central to that concern. BLAIR HODGES: You point out that they're using language of epidemic—this is some sort of illness that is spreading through society. The numbers back up the fact that divorce was increasing. You say that there was a national census in the 1880s that freaked people out....


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Leaving the Ghost Kingdom (with Angela Tucker)

Angela Tucker is a Black woman who was adopted by white parents as a very young child. Angela says transracial adoptees like her grow up wrestling with complicated feelings of gratitude and love, but also rejection, loss, and confusion about their heritage. Angela is author of “You Should Be Grateful:" Stories of Race, Identity, and Transracial Adoption. Her family story was featured in the documentary Closure. She has over 15 years of experience working within adoption and foster care agencies, mentoring over 200 adoptees as founder of the Adoptee Mentoring Society. In addition to producing the podcast The Adoptee Next Door, she consulted with NBC’s This Is Us. Transcript ANGELA TUCKER: As a kid, as a teenager, I only made sense in the city of Bellingham, Washington, if my parents were right nearby. If I'm walking around holding hands with my mom, people would go up to her and say, "Wow, what a great thing you've done." They recognize she has adopted me—"Oh, okay. You're a safe Black person because you're with this woman who did this great thing." But when I wasn't with my parents, and I'm just a Black girl out in the city, there is confusion, like, "How did you get here? Why are you here? Who are you?" BLAIR HODGES: Angela Tucker is a Black woman who was adopted by white parents as a very young child. This is called “transracial adoption,” and Angela says adoptees like her grow up wrestling with complicated feelings of gratitude and love, but also rejection, loss, and confusion. In her new book, Angela invites us to take the perspective of the adopted child and to imagine what it would be like to wonder where you came from, to experience racial confusion, to long for lost connections. She founded the Adoptee Mentoring Society to work with other adoptees and to foster more honest conversations about adoption. She joins us in this episode to talk about her new book: “You Should Be Grateful:" Stories of Race, Identity, and Transracial Adoption. There's no one right way to be a family and every kind of family has something we can learn from. I'm Blair Hodges, and this is Family Proclamations. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT ADOPTION TODAY (2:03) BLAIR HODGES: Angela Tucker joins us. She's author of "You Should Be Grateful": Stories of Race, Identity, and Transracial Adoption. Angela, welcome to Family Proclamations. ANGELA TUCKER: Thank you for having me. I'm glad to be here. BLAIR HODGES: Let's start with introductions. I borrowed this first question from your book where you describe mentoring transracial adoptees: Please share your name, your gender pronouns, and how you feel about adoption today. ANGELA TUCKER: My name is Angela Tucker. I go by she/her pronouns. How I feel about adoption today is a huge question. BLAIR HODGES: Well, I got it from you. [laughter] ANGELA TUCKER: Wow. Adoption is so complicated. I think in general, society thinks of adoption as really a beautiful thing. That typically comes from the perspective of adoptive parents. My whole work is trying to center the adoptees' perspective on adoption, which isn't necessarily the complete opposite, but it's just a little bit more nuanced than just a fairy-tale-Annie-type story. BLAIR HODGES: This is a question I see you’ve asked a lot of your counseling groups. You lead sessions with people who are adopted, and you open with this to signal that their feelings might change over time. I think sometimes people get a story about their life and they're just prepared to share that story. When you're sitting down with kids and asking them this question, "How do you feel about it today," their answers may vary. So as a person who has been adopted, where are you at with it today coming into this interview? ANGELA TUCKER: The question—[laughs] I have never had it turned around on me. But yes, I do ask it of all the people that I mentor, and the reason is just because it's so common that folks put their thoughts about our adoption on us. So I am attempting to give...


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All the Closets (with Jessi Hempel)

When Jessi Hempel came out of the closet she had no idea her whole church-going family had been hiding in there with her. And things got complicated fast when the closet door kept swinging open. Jessi Hempel is author of The Family Outing: A Memoir. She is also host of the award-winning podcast Hello Monday, and a senior editor-at-large at LinkedIn. Her features and cover stories have appeared in Wired, Fortune, and TIME. She has appeared on CNN, PBS, MSNBC, Fox, and CNBC, addressing the culture and business of technology. Hempel is a graduate of Brown University and received a master’s in journalism from UC Berkeley. She lives in Brooklyn with her wife and children. REFERENCES Jessi Hempel, "My Brother’s Pregnancy and the Making of a New American Family," TIME (Sept. 12, 2016). Transcript JESSI HEMPEL: I started reading the section about homosexuality and I was like, "Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!" Then I thought, "Oh my goodness, they're gonna come home and see me reading it and they're gonna know." Now I'm, you know, fourteen or fifteen years old. I was so nervous they would discover what I was researching, that I was reading for personal gain, that I was trying to figure something out. So, I immediately turned to the section on menopause because I think, "Well then they'll just think I'm reading for curiosity because there's no way I'm going through menopause." BLAIR HODGES: Jessi Hempel wasn't going through menopause. She was figuring out she was gay in the late 80s in a family where that wasn't particularly safe. She could keep it hidden for a while, but she knew that someday it wouldn't be a secret anymore, and she was afraid. So, Jessi managed to stretch the secret out. Then one day, her sister discovers something on their father's computer that will turn the whole family on its head. There was more than one secret closet in this family, and the closet doors would swing open again and again. In this episode, Jessi joins us to talk about her incredible memoir, The Family Outing. There's no one right way to be a family, and every kind of family has something we can learn from. I'm Blair Hodges, and this is Family Proclamations. THE FAMILY LEAST LIKELY TO KEEP IN TOUCH (1:38) BLAIR HODGES: Jessi Hempel, welcome to Family Proclamations. JESSI HEMPEL: Well, thank you so much for having me, Blair. I love what you're doing with the show. BLAIR HODGES: I'm excited to talk to you about this book, The Family Outing. You're a professional writer, you didn't just write a book because of your amazing experiences. You also have technical skills with this, so people might not think twice about the fact that you've published a book. But I do think this particular book is sort of surprising if we look at your other professional stuff. Like your career focuses on tech reporting, and this is a really personal memoir. Talk about what it was like to kind of transition to a different mode of writing to get this book done. JESSI HEMPEL: You're very correct, Blair. For the first 25 years of my life as a writer—and that's a lot of years, by the way, I had been writing for a long time—I thought that if I ever wrote a book it would be about technology, artificial intelligence, or the rise of social networks, or any of the myriad things I geeked out on related to business and tech. I had spent my entire career until that point writing for magazines like Business Week, and Fortune, and Wired about the kinds of things that kept me up at night, which were and are things having to do with things like the evolution of new technology. And that was my identity. And I start there, Blair, because I think what happened to me actually happened to a lot of people. In March of 2020—and I should start by saying, if you just say “March of 2020” most people get this dour look on their face, right? Yeah, we can all think about where we might have been. And for me, I was living in Brooklyn, New York. And I was this technology writer, and I was...


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Won't Someone Think of the Children (with Adam Benforado)

One hundred years ago, a bright new age for children was dawning in America. Child labor laws were being passed, public education was spreading, and more. But Adam Benforado says America stopped short in its revolution of children's rights. Today, more than eleven million American children live in poverty. We deny young people any political power, while we fail to act on the issues that matter most to them: racism, inequality, and climate change. That's why Adam is calling for a new revolution for kids. He joins us to discuss his book, A Minor Revolution: How Prioritizing Kids Benefits Us All. About the Guest Adam Benforado is a professor of law at the Drexel University Kline School of Law and the New York Times best-selling author of A Minor Revolution: How Prioritizing Kids Benefits Us All and Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice. His research, teaching, and advocacy is focused on children’s rights and criminal justice. A graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School, he served as a clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and an attorney at Jenner & Block in Washington, D.C. He has published numerous scholarly articles. His popular writing has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Scientific American, Slate, and The Atlantic. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and children. Transcript ADAM BENFORADO: If you're an architect, if you're a plumber, if you are a judge on an immigration court, I want you to think about what your job would look like if you put children first. The reason to do this is because this is good for all of us. It's not just good for kids. It's good for people who don't even like children at all. This is the best path forward as a society, because we all pay the costs of that inattention and those harms that come to kids. BLAIR HODGES: That's Adam Benforado and he's calling for a revolution in the way we all think about childhood. Which is gonna sound a little weird if you think kids today have it easier than ever. And it's true. I mean, they have some luxuries I couldn't even dream of as a kid—like I had to wait until Saturday morning to watch my favorite cartoons. Even then, I had to make the difficult choice between Muppet Babies or Ninja Turtles because they were on at the same time on a different channel. As a parent, Adam Benforado says he cheers for many improvements, but as a professor of law at Drexel University, he says the way children are treated by the courts in the US, economic limits they face, their lack of voting power, their poor access to health care, things like this make kids as vulnerable in America as they've been in 100 years. He wants that to change, not just because it would be better for kids. He says it would be better for everyone. But could the world's major challenges with health, climate change, and public safety really be easier to address by changing the way we treat kids? Adam Benforado says yes, that's why he wrote the book, A Minor Revolution: How Prioritizing Kids Benefits Us All, and he's here to talk about it right now. There's no one right way to be a family and every kind of family has something we can learn from. I'm Blair Hodges, and this is Family Proclamations. LIFELONG INTEREST IN CHILDREN’S RIGHTS (2:15) BLAIR HODGES: Adam Benforado, welcome to Family Proclamations. ADAM BENFORADO: Great to be with you. BLAIR HODGES: We're talking about your book, A Minor Revolution. And this is about children's rights. I wondered what got you interested in focusing on the legal rights of children. Your background is in law. So talk a little bit about why the rights of children became your focus. ADAM BENFORADO: So I think for me this is really a lifelong project. I think the seeds of this really come from my own childhood. I was really lucky to be born into a family with two really loving, supportive parents who spent a lot of time encouraging me and helping me be independent. But I think all around...


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Healing From Family Trauma (with Mariel Buqué)

Your family is...loving? Your family is...hurtful? Your family is...all this and more? If you feel overwhelmed when you think about your family, this episode will help you understand your anxiety and give you evidence-based tools to repair it. Dr. Mariel Buqué is a leading specialist in trauma psychology. She says our physical and mental health challenges can be rooted in family trauma passed down through the generations—not just culturally, but even biologically. We're talking about her new book, Break the Cycle: A Guide to Healing Intergenerational Trauma. Transcript MARIEL BUQUÉ: My family is loving and hurtful. My family is nurturing and invalidating. They have a mixture of characteristics—and I myself have also been a part of how this family has operated, perhaps in dysfunction, for a multitude of years. BLAIR HODGES: How do you feel about the family—or families—that you were raised in? Dr. Mariel Buqué says a lot of our current physical and mental health can be better understood based on how we answer this question. Dr. Buqué is a leading specialist in trauma psychology. She says a lot of families go through cycles of dysfunction, and these cycles are passed on, generation to generation—not just culturally, but even biologically. She says understanding our trauma can help explain why some of us are people pleasers. Or why some of us find ourselves in codependent relationships. Or why we avoid relationships. Why some of us avoid forging our own families, or why we forge unhealthy wounds. Dr. Buqué has been helping to develop cutting edge therapy techniques to address trauma to help heal minds, bodies, and hearts. Today we're talking about her new book, Break the Cycle: A Guide to Healing Intergenerational Trauma. As you listen to various episodes of Family Proclamations, I think chances are you're going to hear things that touch a raw nerve. I've definitely experienced that myself as a host. I hope this episode provides some ideas about how to address those feelings, and maybe become a cycle breaker yourself. There's no one right way to be a family, and every kind of family has something we can learn from. I'm Blair Hodges and this is Family Proclamations. A KEEPER OF THINGS (1:52) BLAIR HODGES: Mariel Buqué, it’s great to have you on Family Proclamations. MARIEL BUQUÉ: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here. BLAIR HODGES: Yes! We're talking about the book Break the Cycle: A Guide to Healing Intergenerational Trauma. And this is one of the newest books that we're going to be covering, this one actually comes out in January of 2024. So first, I just want to say congratulations on the new book! MARIEL BUQUÉ: Thank you, I'm excited for it to be out in the world and for people to be getting their hands on it, and hopefully doing a lot of good healing from it. BLAIR HODGES: It must be an interesting time, because you've spent so much time with this book already. And now it's coming out. So by the time it gets in people's hands, you're sort of like, “okay, like, I've spent so much time with it,” how does it feel? MARIEL BUQUÉ: I keep telling people that it feels almost like that moment when a person who is about nine months pregnant is ready to just birth their child and meet them and have them out in the world. But also, because I just don't want to hold it anymore. I want everyone else to have it. BLAIR HODGES: I do too. Let's start by talking about how you personally used to be a keeper of things. And maybe you still are resisting this impulse. You describe hanging on to stuff even when you don't need it anymore, and that you even experience some guilt or fear when you think about throwing something away rather than finding some use for it. Talk about being a keeper. What are some of the strange things you've kept in the past where you've been like, “Ooh, should probably get rid of that, but I can't!” MARIEL BUQUÉ: Oh, my goodness, I haven't gotten this question. And it's such a good...


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Meet the Eves (with Cat Bohannon)

Cat Bohannon says for far too long the story of human evolution has ignored the female body. Her new book offers a sweeping revision of human history. It's an urgent and necessary corrective that will forever change your understanding of birth and why it's more difficult for humans than virtually any other animal species on the planet. Her best-selling book is called Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution, and we're talking all about it in this episode. Transcript BLAIR HODGES: When Cat Bohannan was working on her PhD, she noticed something was missing from the story she usually heard about human evolution. Specifically, women are missing. That seemed like a pretty big oversight. So she tracked down the most cutting edge research and pulled it together into a fascinating new book. Cat is here to talk about it. It's called Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Evolution. Since we're taking a new look at families, gender and sex on the show, I thought, what better place to begin than the place where we all begin at birth? Let's look at how that messy dangerous, incredible process came to be. There's no one right way to be a family and every kind of family has something we can learn from. I'm your host Blair Hodges, and this is Family Proclamations. INSPIRED BY SCI-FI (7:12) BLAIR HODGES: Cat Bohannon joins us. We're talking about the book Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Evolution. Cat, welcome to Family Proclamations. CAT BOHANNON: Hey, thanks for having me. BLAIR HODGES: You bet. I'm thrilled about this. This is this is such a good book. Your introduction suggests the idea for it was conceived in a movie theater or after you had just seen a movie prequel to Alien. I didn't see that coming. Talk about how the book started. CAT BOHANNON: Right, so as a person who is femme-presenting, as a person who identifies as a woman, I have many triggering moments for where I might want to talk about the body and its relation to our lives. However, there was this one kind of crystallizing bit. I'm a big sci-fi fan, big Kubrick fan, big Ridley Scott fan, so I'm gonna go, when they come out, I'm gonna go. Now, this is a prequel to Alien, so you know going into this film that whatever characters you meet, it's not gonna go well for them. You just accept it in that kind of sadistic way as an audience of these things, like this is—yeah, you know where it's going. But in this case, what happened is the main character has been impregnated, effectively, with a vicious alien squid, as you do. And she's sort of shambling in a desperate state, and she arrives in this crashed spaceship at a MedPod. So it's like surgery in a box, you know, that's the idea. And she asked the computer for a cesarean. I think she actually says something like, “CESAREAN!”, you know, but she wants help with her situation, her tentacled situation. And the MedPod says, “I'm sorry, this MedPod is calibrated for male patients only.” And I hear in the row exactly behind me, a woman say, “Who does that?” Exactly. Who does that? Who sends a multi-trillion dollar expedition into space? Right? Presumably that's the, maybe it costs more and doesn't make sure that the medical equipment works on women, right? And it turns out us. Yeah, it's us. We're the ones who do that. Right now, in every single hospital, It's a problem. BLAIR HODGES: So your book is looking at the “male norm” problem. You're looking at how, and not just in medical science, but I think in the ways anthropology has worked, a lot of sociological studies, studies of medicine—they assume the male body as the norm and then proceed from there. There are practical reasons for this that you talk about in the book, with medicine trials, for example, where you want a body that isn't maybe going to experience a lot of hormonal flux over the course of the study, or that isn't going to be pregnant or something. CAT BOHANNON: Mm-hmm. BLAIR...


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Introducing Family Proclamations - Trailer

COMING JANUARY 2024—Dad, mom, two kids, a white picket fence, and everybody knows their role. It's the classic nuclear family. I grew up believing this was the one right way to be a family—until I started getting to know real people who didn’t fit that mold. Now we're watching this old nuclear family model explode in real time, but we don't need to hit the panic button. We can let curiosity lead the way. I'm Blair Hodges, host of Family Proclamations. I'm on a quest to find out everything I can about family, gender identity, and sexuality. I want you to join me. On this podcast I'm talking to best-selling authors about marriage, divorce, cohabitation, single adulthood, parenting, childlessness, adoption, fostering, gender identity, human biology, and lots more. We'll learn more about different families and identities, past, present, and future. So please get ready to surrender old stereotypes and embrace new perspectives. There’s no single way to be a family. And every kind of family has something we can learn from. Family Proclamations arrives in January. Follow for updates on IG @famprocs.