Designing Queer Families

I will be presenting Designing Queer Families: Normative values in sperm bank website design at the Cultural Studies Association Conference this May.

The (short) abstract:

When deciding to have a child through unknown donor sperm, many difficult choices have to be made; yet sperm banks make countless decisions long before potential recipients view their catalogs. Sperm banks focus on physical characteristics, healthy families, and basic personality questions. What about the information that isn’t currently disclosed? Or that isn’t collected in the first place?

This paper will analyze publicly accessible websites for ordering sperm as a foundation for thinking through how donor information is collected, visually designed and displayed, and the ways in which these ‘choices’ are decisions made for creating normative families, and are fundamentally opposed to queerness.

Untangling these homonormative design decisions requires a close reading and analysis of sperm-bank data collection and marketing procedures. Using queer theory and critical code studies, I uncover not only the meaning embedded in the database and website design, but what it means to be a queer family.