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.
Krys Malcolm Belc has thought a lot about the interplay between parenthood and gender. As a nonbinary, transmasculine parent, giving birth to his son Samson clarified his gender identity. 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. 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–childhood photos, birth certificates–and addresses his deep ambivalence about the “before” and “after” so prevalent in trans stories, which feels apart from his own experience.
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.
Krys Malcolm Belc's work has appeared in Granta, Black Warrior Review, Tin House Online, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. He lives in Kensington, Philadelphia with his partner and their three young children.
A Rumpus Most Anticipated Book of Next Year
"This is a gorgeous memoir about families, raising children, and figuring out how to live in a world where intimate matters are both inscribed by individual history and entangled with the workings of the State. A work of solace and communion, this book is destined to be a major addition to the literature of parenthood and selfhood, one that will be read for years to come." —Lydia Kiesling, author of The Golden State
"A formally daring queer memoir about parenthood and inheritance and the way our bodies resist the binaries of the state; The Natural Mother of the Child is brilliant." —Carmen Maria Machado, author of In the Dream House