Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Baby Gammy and the Sexual Politics of Mixed Race Asians


[Thailand] Baby Gammy with his surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua

[Australia] Separated twin sister, Pipah, with Wendy and David Farnell (bio father)

by Sharon H Chang

A couple years ago young Thai mother Pattaramon Chanbua agreed to be a surrogate for Australian couple David and Wendy Farnell. It was a disaster.

Last week Thailand legally banned commercial surrogacy, which is now a criminal offense.

The law comes after many abusive surrogacy arrangements exploiting Thai women over the years. But the Chanbua-Farnell surrogacy in particular expedited legislation after snowballing into an international scandal that garnered the attention of the world and spotlighted inescapably the controversial ethics and regulation (or lack thereof) of global surrogacy. Chanbua’s 2013 fertility treatment in Thailand was successful and she carried mixed race Asian/white twins Gammy and Pipah to delivery for the Farnells by the end of the year. But while Pipah was born healthy and typically developing, Gammy was born with Down’s Syndrome and severe health challenges. Shortly thereafter he was left behind with Chanbua when his Australian parents took his sister back to Australia without him. Gammy’s story was internationally publicized summer 2014 when Chanbua, aided by fundraisers, worked to crowdsource financing for his expensive medical care online. The tragic story coupled with a plethora of images of surrogate mom and left-behind infant living with disability exploded across the media, touching the shocked hearts of millions.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Are Mixed Race Asian/Whites, "Basically White"?


Amerasian Le Van Minh in post-war Vietnam, Newsday photo by Audry Tiernan (1985)
[She] never told the son who was crippled by polio about her relationship with his father. All she said was that the man was an American, a sergeant in the Army. He was one of the thousands of GIs who left children behind as victims of the conflict that the United States never officially called a war.
-- "Life and Times of Le Van Minh" by Irene Virag

by Sharon H Chang

I've gotten some pretty vitriolic comments these last months regarding my writings on white-mixing not being synonymous with whiteness. A recent response to my piece protesting Asian Fortune's troubled 2013 "Hapa" article:

"Guys...Sometimes you just need to calm the f down. You need to get out of your heads a little bit and stop over analyzing things. I'm sure all you hapas out there have some understanding of the way hapas are treated in Asia. Talk about superficial stereotypical understandings! Your ultra-liberal, ultra-progressive, straight-out-of-an-undergraduate-African-American-studies-class mumbo jumbo would only ever be considered in White countries. And you know damn well that you benefit from 'White privilege.' The reason I put that in quotes is beyond the scope of this comment. Don't write back with some bullshit about traffic stops - I know the statistics." (October 26, 2014) 

Another recent response, this time to my piece on talking mixed race identity with young children for Hyphen Magazine:

"'mom am i white?'

the answer is yes, he is. Stop confusing the poor child and STOP telling him he's of Asian descent when you and the baby daddy are clearly white. He will grow up with an identity problem and will very likely hate you for it. Have some decency as a parent." (February 10, 2015)