Embodied: Kinfolk Beyond Biology
Does your sick leave policy include time off to care for roommates, best friends or chosen siblings? Over 60% of people under the age of 25 live in non-family households, and 28% of all adults live alone in the U.S. It is a distinct turn from historical numbers and the persistent, politicized ideal of the two-parent nuclear family. Workplaces and governments are beginning to broaden the definition of family to include non-biological relationships in their sick-leave protocol.
Who the law calls your family is not necessarily who your family is.
Much of that impetus comes from LGBTQ activism, which champions non-traditional family structures that extend far beyond marriage. Chosen families are a survival mechanism for many queer folks. Nearly three in five trans and gender non-conforming people experience significant family rejection as well as double the rate of unemployment and homelessness compared to the general population. Support groups and friends become family, providing the essential support structure when a biological family chooses to refuse those resources because of gender or sexuality.
For decades, El Centro Hispano has facilitated those networks among Latinx LGBTQ people in Central North Carolina. Eliazar Posada first joined a support group while he was in college, finding a sanctuary from the constant questioning and discrimination from conservative family members in Texas and Mexico. Since then, Posada has begun facilitating the groups, calling that transition like becoming an older sibling to newer members.
I lived in her apartment... I still remember her going into my room and tidying it up.
While he has worked hard to re-establish a loving relationship with his biological family, his chosen mother is a godsend. Cristina keeps tabs on him and many others in their multigenerational chosen family, offering unconditional love in the ways many of them lost when they came out to parents.
KHX05 is a Durham-based multi-disciplinary artist and performer with the House of Coxx who describes the necessity of mutual aid in the trans community during the COVID-19 pandemic. They reflect on the history of Black queer kin networks as a form of resistance to capitalism and white supremacy. On this edition of the Embodied series, host Anita Rao is joined by Posada and KHX05 to share lessons about chosen family as well as respond to listeners struggling to decide who is in and out of their COVID bubble and trusted inner circle. Posada is the community engagement and advocacy department director at El Centro Hispano.