A woman requesting the presence of her two sisters during childbirth led to an awkward misunderstanding involving her transgender sister-in-law.
Redditor "AITAThrowaway8787" excluded her brother's wife from attending the intimate gathering and was consequently accused of transphobia.
After a severe backlash, the original poster (OP) asked AITA (Am I the A**hole) in the popular subReddit forum where people discuss if they are guilty of committing something objectionable.
The expectant mother wrote:
"So basically, I thought this was a pretty cut and dry situation, but apparently not, as I'm getting a lot of judgement (some bordering on abuse) from different people and my phone is blowing up."
"So I want to know if I was out of line."
"So I'm 6 months pregnant, and I've been very open about what kind of way I want to give birth."
"I've discussed this with my group of girlfriends extensively, along with my family. I ideally want to have a natural, unassisted birth at home, which is near a hospital if things start to shape up as problematic."
"Now, for this process, I want support, and of course my husband is going to be there, but also I want my two sisters to be with me."
"This is where things get controversial."
"In my many conversations with friends and family, I mentioned I want my sisters there with me. I do not want my brother there, that would just be weird!"
"But, in these conversations, my trans-sister-in-law was present, and she got the idea she would be included in this childbirth situation."
The OP mentioned she did not know about of her sister-in-law's transition until recently and explained the reason for excluding her.
"Just for reference she transitioned around 3 years ago. I was unaware of this until last week, when she told me if there is anything in particular she should bring for the birth."
"I calmly mentioned that I am very selective over who I want in this very intimate situation, and told her than I hope she isn't offended if she isn't there for the birthing."
"This is when things blew up. She lost her temper and I got a torrent of emotional outbursts."
"She said that she would never be able to give birth herself and excluding her is taking away from her womanhood and depriving her of her only chance of experiencing this expression of femininity."
"When she found out my two sisters were going to be there she told me that I was transphobic and she has as much of a right to be there as they do.
"After this, I received many emails, facebook messages, and text messages from several different people, calling me transphobe and many other hurtful things."
"My trans-sister-in-law is very active in the transactivism community (which I fully support), and apparently she told them what had transpired. This has obviously rallied them to harass me, and now I'm starting to wonder if I messed up."
"I kind of wish I never mentioned anything about the birthing process to her, maybe I should have just kept all these plans to myself so she wouldn't feel excluded."
"I'm aware transpeople have a pretty sh*tty deal in life, and perhaps this added to their feelings of exclusion."
"But the other part of me says, it's my birthing, I'm going to very vulnerable and exposed, and I (perhaps selfishly) owe it to myself to make it as comfortable and safe for me as possible."
The OP opened the floor for discussion on whether or not she was being the a**hole.
Many Redditors expressed that childbirth was not a spectator sport and that the dispute had little to do with transphobia.
"NTA - UM WHAT?!? No one gets to be at the birth unless the mother (you) invites them. People are there to support you, no one has a 'right' to be there."
"The fact that she reacted this way and made it about herself and her experience is proof she shouldn't be there. If you had a female born sister who felt entitled, but for WHATEVER reason you didn't want there I'd tell you the same thing."
"Make sure there is no way she can show up. You don't need that stress to deal with." – AlwaysAnotherSide
"Plus it's her sister .. in law. Sisters arent typical birthing room invitees to begin with. In laws even less so. The fact she assumed instant invite as an in law is very Just No." – rainjays
"Same here. I would have liked to be present during the delivery to hold my sister's hand and encourage her, but she clearly stated she wanted our mother and her husband and no one else."
"I never gave it a second thought as I didn't want to be the cause of stress during such a huge occasion." – LibertyUnderpants
"I think it depends on how close you are. I know many aren't but my my sister and I are in our 30s and best friends."
"We talk to each other every day and see each other almost as much. I would want her with me in any life changing situation, because our lives are so interconnected for so long, I trust her to take care of things with my best interest in mind if something went south." – BlatantNapping
"Yeah, some how she got the idea because OP was doing it at home/happy talk about her plans that it was a big tea party rather than a child birth. She can stay away!" – AlwaysAnotherSide
"Especially after this behaviour... how are you going to feel comfortable now?! People need to understand that the mothers relaxation, trust and comfort is literally life saving for her and the baby."
"And (more likely) will reduce labor times and minimise pain. No one has a 'right' to be there for any reason if it makes the mother uncomfortable." – AlwaysAnotherSide
"So let me get this straight...."
"Your sister-in-law only just told you about her transitioning a week ago, yet she expects you to include her on the most terrifying/joyful event in your life? And when you said no, only expecting to have people you've known for your whole life there, she sent a wave of misinformation out there to get people to harass you?"
"Tell her it has nothing to do with her being trans, but everything to do with her behavior now and not respecting your wishes about an incredibly life-altering event. It's your pregnancy, not her chance to use you as a proxy." – TheAlfies
This user did not appreciate that the sister-in-law made it about her.
"Even if she were there, it's not something you make about yourself, you're support for the mother not making the whole thing about your 'experiencing womanhood'. She needs to get over herself, childbirth is not a spectator sport." – frecklyfreakyfoo
"The way I see it she is using the fact that she is trans to be manipulative. Because she's not getting her way she perceives it as an attack because she's trans and that's not the case."
"She then in turn is getting other people to call OP transphobic, all because she isn't getting what she wants." – littlejupiter5
We got to hear from another perspective.
"Trans woman here. You are not being transphobic here. You alone decide who gets to attend the birth and you are NTA."
"Dysphoria is a b*tch and your SIL should get this sorted out in therapy." – SuddenPresentation0
Redditor "AlwaysAnotherSide" offered a no-holds-barred explanation to avoid further confusion over the sacred and personal nature of childbirth.
"Is this a cultural change? Why are people confused?"
"It's not hard: mother needs to feel ok moaning, pooing, moving around in weird ways, not being able to talk, being afraid, crying, not having control over her body, having her cervix expand to 10cm!!! and vagina stretch, perenium tear."
"Why on earth would you think you are invited just to see baby the very second it rips out of her vag?
"Is it because we don't have some social construct for introduction Bub to the family/community? Or people just don't understand because birth and post partum life are not depicted accurately in popular culture?"
"NTA...even if she WAS a biological woman NO ONE has a 'right' to stare into another person's vagina while they push out a human naked and in pain without thier express permission and enthusiastical consent."
"F'k her for using this MANIPULATION tactic. And her friends for harassing you. As if your vagina is public property for viewing by and and everyone for the sake of political correctness."
"Your sister's are YOUR sister's. They aren't near strangers whose family you married into. Even if she was a bio woman you would STILL be in the absolute right to be uncomfortable with a near stranger seeing you like that over your own family." – Mlynn44144
It is ultimately the OP's choice.
"NTA - Your birth your rules. If you decided to pick one blood sister over the other then that's also your choice."
"Her being trans isn't an issue. They're an in-law and not someone you grew up with."
"Your sister in law seems entitled. I understand sensitivities due to oppression her community receives but this is not one of those cases and they're being entitled."
"There's plenty of born women who never experience giving birth. She should get over it."
"SHE and no one else has any rights over your birth."
"If you wanted to replace your husband with a juggling clown that's YOUR CHOICE." – CookingwithHafsa
"NTA and your f'g husband need to stand up for you! My wife is pregnant and if anyone in my family demanded to be in the room while she was giving birth I would nip that sh*t in the bud instantly."
"OP no one is entitled to your experience and your body. You did nothing wrong and the people contacting you have a pretty sh*t moral compass." – AlluringAllura
Reddit has spoken. Childbirth is about the mother and child most of all.