Procreative Boundaries: Gay men navigating surrogacy




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Peer reviewed



Gay men are increasingly using surrogacy to create biologically related families, yet little is known about how the socio-cultural context shapes UK resident gay men’s experiences. These data are drawn from a wider exploratory, qualitative study based on an interpretivist epistemology. The study explored the factors that influence UK resident gay men’s desire and motivation for parenthood, why men choose surrogacy over other family building options and their experiences as they navigate the surrogacy journey.

Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 21 gay men who had undergone surrogacy arrangements in the UK, USA and India and 15 key stakeholders (surrogacy organisations, legal and regulatory agencies, and healthcare professionals). Data were analysed using thematic analysis informed by concepts of procreative consciousness, procreative responsibility and procreative boundaries to analyse gay men’s meanings and experiences as they pursue surrogacy.

Gay men face unique challenges in family formation, many of which are largely absent for other intended parents accessing reproductive technologies. They need to navigate, a range of boundaries: social, relational, institutional, and legal, which constitute a series of potential barriers to achieving parenthood. A focus on procreative boundaries highlights the importance of the socio-cultural, confines within which procreative consciousness and responsibility are enabled, shaped and enacted. The presentation analyses these boundaries and discusses the ways in which dominant discourses of family and kinship accentuate existing inequalities and reproduce practices based on heterosexism and gender bias within the realm of surrogacy.


Conference abstract


Surrogacy, Gay men, Reproduction, Procreative Boundaries


Norton, W. (2019) Procreative Boundaries: Gay men navigating surrogacy. Europe and Beyond: Boundaries, Barriers and Belonging: 14th European Sociological Association (ESA) Conference; Manchester, UK. August 2019.


Research Institute

Centre for Reproduction Research (CRR)