A nonbinary, transmasculine parent who gave birth to a son, Samson, 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.
In the crowded genre of memoir about mothering, Krys Malcolm Belc's debut, The Natural Mother of the Child, asks: What do we do with someone who is parenting the child they gave birth to, but is not a mother at all? Where do transgender and non-binary parents fit, especially in a world that is determined to force them into a box labeled 'mother?' ... [The Natural Mother of the Child] is the necessary and long overdue transmasculine account of carrying and birthing a child ... The book is not linear in structure, and skews literary and lyrical, told as a collection of fragmented essays. Belc seamlessly weaves in primary source documents with historical references ... The book switches between first and second person, which can sometimes be confusing for the reader. Belc writes from the trans perspective and it is clear that he is unconcerned with overexplaining his experience to a cisgender audience. His experience is far from universal, but nearly everyone can relate to the transformative experience of falling in love — with a person, with a child — and the ways that love can shape our identities.
Belc’s memoir troubles easy understandings of gender and parenthood. At the same time, the author’s particular journey demonstrates a universal truth: parturition brings not only a baby, but also transformed adults, into the world ... Belc’s wryly humorous book appeals to both heart and head, like spending an evening with a friend watching a documentary ... Belc’s uniquely trans experience of parenting will resonate with all kinds of parents; similarly, Belc’s complex feelings about his body will resonate with anyone who has ever felt critical toward or uncomfortable about their own ... Belc deepens and complicates the happily-ever-after tropes of 'life after baby' and 'life after transition.' In a beautiful meditation on the way the fetus leaves cells that stay in the mother’s body forever, Belc acknowledges positive change ... The Natural Mother of the Child offers, along with an ever-surprising, multiform structure, a lesson in courage and tenderness. Above all, it showcases the ability to live in and tolerate discomfort if it is the surest path to your desires.