First Place for General Excellence in Feature Writing, Reproductive Science
I’m very honored to announce that I won first place in feature writing from the Association of Healthcare Journalists. The story is called “Portrait of a Professional Babymaker” published in Jane Metcalfe’s publication Neo.Life.
Reeder uses her money from baby-making to travel to places like Southeast Asia and Zanzibar, where she donated her leftover breast milk to an orphanage. When she’s not pregnant, she drives heavy machinery for a private logging company. When it comes to stories about prolific gamete donors, sperm donors and sperm banks get the attention for producing donor sibling families in the dozens and sometimes in the hundreds. In recent years, stories have surfaced about donor siblings connecting through private Facebook groups and often finding their donors through DNA tests. Who can forget the 2013 Vince Vaughn comedy, Delivery Man, about a childless man having a midlife crisis who discovers that he had fathered over 500 kids conceived with sperm he donated in his youth. These are the extreme consequences of the age of “collaborative reproduction,” a term coined by the late John Robertson, a law professor and bioethicist at the University of Texas at Austin, to describe the expanded array of civil rights for LGBTQ+ families, lifestyle choices, and medically assisted methods of reproduction available to 21st-century families. A large and growing component of collaborative reproduction is the increasingly open roles that surrogates and gamete donors often play in these modern families. It’s less common, however, to hear stories of such prolific egg donors like Tyra.
When so many Millennials like her have become less interested in marriage and children and are also delaying having children for their careers, she is a new kind of female fertility archetype: nurturing and distant at the same time. She fulfills her sense of altruism and her desire to procreate, but in a directly transactional way, selling access to her body and body parts for her financial gain and freedom. “I’d say it’s 50 percent business, 50 percent having a purpose,” she says. “I never fall into a career. I always thought I’d be a professional athlete between volleyball and golf. And I got my pilot’s license at a young age, but I never fell into my niche. I feel like maybe procreating for others is it.”
Tyra Reeder, the subject of my article, is also a main character in my new book, Reconceptions: Modern Relationships, Reproductive Science and the Future of Family, which will be published in January, 2023 through BenBella Books.