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Changing (In)Fertilities


LGBTQ+ (In)Fertilities - Marcin Smietana


Study of Gay Men’s Experiences of Surrogacy

In spring and summer 2020, I am carrying out interviews with gay men who live in the UK and who have pursued surrogacy, whether in the UK or overseas. I am interested in people’s stories about their paths to surrogacy and their experiences of it. Under the current Covid-19 circumstances, I am conducting interviews online (via Zoom, Skype etc.) until further notice. Please share the study flyer widely, and if you know anyone willing to participate, please contact me at


LGBTQ+ (In)Fertilities project and work package

The ‘LGBTQ+ (In)Fertilities’ work package is part of a larger research project about contemporary changes in reproductive behaviours and perceptions, Changing In(Fertilities), funded by the Wellcome Trust and carried out by the Reproductive Sociology Research Group. The ‘LGBTQ+ (In)Fertilities’ work package investigates ‘how the changing perceptions and expectations of in/fertility are linked to emergent reproductive identities, transactions and practices in LGBTQ+ communities’. As such, its aim is ‘investigating fertility assemblages emerging within the LGBTQ+ population - such as gay fathers’ use of surrogacy’. The study looks at ‘the intersectional reproductive transactions between surrogates and gay father families in the US and the UK, documenting both the ambivalent values these fertility contracts engender, and how these tensions are resolved’. (Franklin & Inhorn 2018, Changing In/Fertilities Grant Proposal: 12, 21, 23)

The ‘LGBTQ+ (In)Fertilities’ work package looks at the fertility transitions (Greenhalgh 1995) taking place among LGBTQ+ people. One such ongoing transition among LGBTQ+ people in some locations on the globe today has been a shift towards thinkability of LGBTQ+ families (see e.g. Pralat 2016). This also shows that under the ‘post-ART condition’ people understand relations between fertility and infertility in new ways (Franklin 2013).

Understanding the LGBTQ+ fertility transitions is also made possible by comparisons drawn within the Changing (In)Fertilities research network. The local research I have been carrying out is therefore put into conversation here with ethnographers working in different parts of the globe. The objective of this work is understanding the ways in which LGBTQ+ reproductive aspirations and options are situated in specific contexts, as well as whether and how they can be translated from one context to another.


Previous work and background

The current research on gay surrogacy in the UK and ‘LGBTQ+ (In)Fertilities’ project is a continuation of my previous work on LGBTQ+ reproduction and queer kinships. Based on it, I am currently writing up a book on gay men’s experiences of surrogacy. My previous fieldwork material from the USA also serves to contrast and contextualise my current research in the UK.

During my Marie Curie postdoc at UC Berkeley, in 2015 and 2016 I interviewed gay men who pursued surrogacy in the USA, whether citizens of European countries who embarked on transnational reproductive arrangements, or US citizens pursuing surrogacy in the US. I also talked to surrogates, egg donors, reproductive professionals and activists. This followed up from my PhD at the University of Barcelona on the social inclusion of gay father families created through adoption and surrogacy.

In 2018, with Charis Thompson (LSE) I co-edited a Special Issue of Reproductive BioMedicine & Society Online, ‘Making Families: Transnational Surrogacy, Queer Kinship and Reproductive Justice’. In this issue, we put into conversation both queer and feminist perspectives on surrogacy, with a view to articulating the rights of all parties involved in gay surrogacy arrangements.

Therefore in the ‘LGBTQ+ (In)Fertilities’ project I also seek to contribute to building ‘queer reproductive justice’. I ask how relationships between people taking part in LGBTQ+ reproduction could be choreographed so that queer reproduction will not reproduce inequalities.

Please see my work to date in the Publications section here.