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.
As a nonbinary, transmasculine parent, Krys Malcolm Belc has thought a lot about the interplay between parenthood and gender. Giving birth to his son Samson clarified his gender identity and allowed him to project a more masculine self. 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. The Natural Mother of the Child is a visual memoir-in-lyric-essays, an archive of Belc’s queerness. By engaging directly with the documentation often thought to constitute a record of one’s life—childhood photos, birth certificates—Belc creates a new kind of life record, one that addresses his own ambivalence about the “before” and “after” so prevalent in trans stories, which feels apart from his own.
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.