They Call Me Dad project by Best Beginnings, funded by MovemberImage by: Movember
1 June 2023

Movember funding to support GBTQ+ dads

3 minutes read time

“I’d always wanted to be a dad” says parenting blogger and campaigner Michael Johnson-Ellis.

“I knew I was different. I didn’t have any support and I didn’t know any gay people having kids but that urge and that need to be a parent never went away.”

After meeting husband Wes, at Birmingham Pride in 2012, the couple from Worcestershire started their long journey to becoming parents. They had their daughter Talulah in 2016 and their son Duke in 2019 via a surrogate.

Michael, who founded My Surrogacy Journey® and TwoDadsUK blog with Wes, says:

" a project that aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (GBTQ) dads, intended dads, and those who identify as dads "

“The most difficult thing I’ve faced as a parent was the journey to become a parent. Emotionally it was really hard, not knowing where to turn and not understanding what the options were. There was no access to any kind of public help and unless you have that, for lots of us, it just doesn’t happen.”

They Call Me Dad

To support other dads on a similar journey, Movember is proud to be funding They Call Me Dad.

It’s a project that aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (GBTQ) dads, intended dads, and those who identify as dads.

The multi-year project is being led by Best Beginnings, the charity behind the award-winning Baby Buddy app. They Call Me Dad will create an inclusive pathway into the app for GBTQ+ Dads, to ensure they have the support and confidence they need to thrive as parents.

Project lead Alex Paterson of Best Beginnings says:

“Our Baby Buddy app has amazing content for parents as they work their way through the first year of parenthood. Through the funding Movember has given us, we’ll be able to make that content fully inclusive of GBTQ+ fathers.

For this project, Best Beginnings will work with GBTQ+ dads, intended dads and mental health experts to identify their needs and current gaps.

There is currently a lack of research into the experiences of GBTQ+ parents and the exclusion they face in traditional perinatal care, and, to date, no research into trans and non-binary parents’ perinatal mental health.

The experiences and insights gathered from a series of workshops will be used to provide guidance for creating tailored GBTQ+ information around birthing, surrogacy, and adoption. The support will be extended to cover the period up to their child’s first birthday.

The project will also produce resources for healthcare professionals to improve the support GBTQ+ dads receive within the healthcare system. It is hoped that the resources produced will be launched in 2024 across all Best Beginnings’ channels and will reach up to 8,000 parents by the end of 2024.

Rhiannon Watt, programs manager, community & workplace, at Movember, says:

“The number of GBTQ+ dads is growing, and we want to support them. We know that it can be a complex and drawn-out process for these dads to have a child, which can have a huge impact on their mental wellbeing.

“Raising children can be tough for anyone but it can be even more challenging for GBTQ+ parents who may face bias, stigma, and outside stresses along the way. Having the right information and support in place can help if and when issues arise, that’s why we’re very pleased to be working with Best Beginnings on They Call Me Dad.

The project is supported by high-profile GBTQ+ dads including Freddy McConnell, trans dad and journalist, whose birthing story was the subject of the documentary ‘Seahorse’ and Matt Taylor-Roberts, managing director of Proud 2 B Parents, an organisation run by and for LGBTQ+ parents/carers and their children.

Other partners include Mark Williams of International Fathers’ Mental Health Day, Scott Mair, founder of PMH Support (Paternal Mental Health) and Dr. Kate Ellis-Davies of Swansea University.