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In my current work, I want same sex couples to be fully integrated in society. As it is set in a medieval fantasy world, survival of the human species relies on having children, so same sex couples must be able to have children.

How can I explain the ability for same sex couples to have children?

Magic comes with a price and not everybody can afford a wizard so magical creating children is discarded.

So I thought about adoption but what about royal couples? Since royalty revolves on bloodline, they cannot adopt a child.

But, I also wanted to keep gendered pronouns, so a third sex option seems compromised.

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    $\begingroup$ Why not both? Poor people adopt and the royals get a wizard. $\endgroup$ – Eric Apr 18 at 19:52
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    $\begingroup$ If we're gonna be as progressive as open same sex monarchies, what's wrong about adopting the Heir Apperent? Or better yet, Adopt the Heir Presumptive of a nation with a Hetero King and declaring him Heir Apparent of your country, thus securing a powerful alliance (or at least, giving the more militarily powerful nation you adopted from a reason to not war with your people.). Hapsburg with a gay twist? $\endgroup$ – hszmv Apr 18 at 19:52
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    $\begingroup$ Royalty doesn't have to rely on bloodline; the Five Good Emperors of Rome were all adopted, and were (as the name implies) generally thought of as better and wiser rulers than those who gained the throne by heredity alone. $\endgroup$ – Cadence Apr 18 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ "Royalty revolves on bloodline": sometimes it does, sometimes it does in a not so straightforward way, sometimes in doesn't. Elective monarchy is a real thing; notably, Bohemia, the Holy Roman Empire (nothing to do with the actual Roman Empire), Poland, Transylvania and Venice were elective monarchies throughout their (monarchical) history. The (western) Roman Empire did not even have a fixed rule for succession, but bloodline was definitely not a decisive factor. Etc. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 18 at 21:43
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    $\begingroup$ I apologize for pointing it out, but the only way for humans to physiologically conceive and gestate children without the intervention of technology is with biological gender. The moment you change something about (e.g.) males such that one male can conceive and bear a child is the moment you created a female (or you no longer have humans). $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 19 at 5:26

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Allow people in this world to change sex, so they switch to a mixed sex couple in order to have children, then switch back to their preferred sex for other activities. You may even see couples where they alternate being "mother" and "father" as further children are born.

This is even scientifically plausible if you have the sex change process take some time - a few months to a year to transition for example.

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    $\begingroup$ The question is about same-sex couples, not same-gender couples though. IE, changing genders won't allow them to have biological children. You can use magic to do a sex change, but the question discourages using magic, though it's plausible that sex-change magic is cheaper than baby-making magic $\endgroup$ – Calvin Li Apr 18 at 23:04
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    $\begingroup$ If they are changing sex so that they are opposite sexes, how are they a same sex couple? $\endgroup$ – Tyler S. Loeper Apr 19 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ There are species of fish where, when the school's male dies, the biggest/strongest female becomes male. Transfer that ability into a sentient species and you now have infinite plot devices as the ladies of the court jockey for position to become the next male, possibly including "adjusting" the time of the male's death to when they are most powerful... $\endgroup$ – arp Apr 19 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ @TylerS.Loeper Because most of the time they live as a same sex couple, just changing when they want to have children. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Apr 20 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ @CalvinLi I have no idea what you're trying to say. Without magic if one person transitions to male and the other to female then they can have children. Several animal species already do that - for example see arp's comment. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Apr 20 at 15:07
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Adoption. It was common for Japanese and Hindu leaders without sons to adopt genealogically junior members of their families. Also ancient Roman Emperors.

As for ordinary people, why not have same gender couples do their duty to keep up the human population level by adopting orphans?

It's not like any realistic society at medieval technology levels would ever suffer from a shortage of orphans desperately needing to be adopted to survive, or that poor adults would ever have no need for kids to help out with chores.

Furthermore, in any realistic medieval level society, the percentage of the population who would not have biological children because of their same gender relationships would be only a tiny fraction of the percentage of the population who would die without having an children. If the human population could manage to survive despite the vast percentage of the population who died without children, the small percentage of people who live to be adult members of same sex couples and so do not have biological children would be no problem.

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    $\begingroup$ +1. And speaking of realistic medieval, being able to afford children was a real issue so having somebody willing to adopt excess children of relative would have real value. And having nobility adopt their heirs would help a lot with having total idiots for heirs. I think what is messing up the OP is that we are used to thinking of family as parents plus children when historically adopting a nephew or niece would still be seen as staying in the family. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Apr 18 at 21:49
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Heterolog insemination.

A person of the gender other than the one in the couple offers "his/her services" to complete the pregnancy. For a man it would only be the intercourse, for a woman it would be the intercourse and the entire pregnancy.

Add to this a change of culture, where parents are those raising up a child, not those physically making it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer! I thought about it but I again, adding a third party would be weird in royal/noble bloodline. $\endgroup$ – Thanie Apr 18 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Thanie I'm not so sure it would have to be. In a society that was either very patriarchal or matriarchal, the mother or father respectively may be unimportant to the bloodline (to where only the "male blood" or "female blood" matters), and then having someone else inseminate or carry the fetus is not really a factor. Certainly a different culture than the typical European noble family, but not out of the question $\endgroup$ – David Coffron Apr 18 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ @David thanks a lot for your answer. Wouldn't it make same sex alliances irrelevant? And what about a society in which all genders are equal? $\endgroup$ – Thanie Apr 18 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Thanie this is your world, if same sex alliances are fully integrated however child birth is handled wouldn't be weird $\endgroup$ – BKlassen Apr 18 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ Find a third person that has no connections (no family, no one knows who they are, etc), then kill them after the baby is born. No loose ends $\endgroup$ – Calvin Li Apr 18 at 23:12
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Allow bloodline proxies

Adoption is the obvious choice for most male and many female couples. But if bloodline is important in a particular family, allow for a proxy.

For example, if a female couple wishes to have a child, the brother (or nephew or uncle or cousin, if a brother is not available) of the woman who is a member of the royal family provides sperm to use for the royal's wife.

Even in medieval times, this can easily be done without the man and the woman having sex with each other. The man has some "alone time" then presents his sister with a bowl. The sister runs off to her wife and uses her hands (or a needle-less syringe if available with their tech level) to impregnate her.

Make the transfer of the bowl an official act with legal ramifications. Legally it makes any issue the sister's legal child (with all the benefits of her bloodline).

It's a bit more complicated for male couples, as the proxy can't just take 5 minutes then walk away. She would have to carry this child for 9 months for her brother (or other relative). That's a big ask.

You can get around this by allowing the royal half of a male couple to impregnate any willing woman (who can be paid for her labor). A child born out of wedlock is a bastard and, in most royal cultures, bastards do not inherit. But in this case, there can be a legal agreement in place where the male couple raises and legitimizes the child.

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Concubines

Actually, you are asking two questions - one about survival of a race, and another about maintaining of royal bloodlines. The first one was traditionally solved with heterosexual couples having more children. The second one is more touchy. Monarchs throughout the history were coming under an enormous pressure to produce an heir.

There are basically 3 ways to solve the problem of a childless marriage: remarry, adopt an heir, or elevate the status of an illegitimate child. Based on your question, you explicitly don't want option #2, and option #1 is obviously not a solution for a homosexual monarchs. That leaves us with option #3. Monarch would formally select a concubine (male or female) for the explicit purpose of producing an heir. The children of this relationship would have full legitimacy, and, since monarch's real marriage is childless, their path to the throne should be unchallenged.

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Divine Intervention

There is a god of children/child birth and devoted worshippers that desire and deserve a child can be granted one as a boon. This could work for more than same sex couples and be a way to solve infertility or for an individual to get a clone of themselves.

To explain why not everyone does this make the process even more painful and time consuming than standard child birth. The god grants you a child which grows like a tree but must be fed the blood of the parents and takes years to become an infant.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 for creativity. Since the OP is basically asking to break the existing laws of science regarding physical reproduction, what with not wanting to rely on adoption and third party surrogacy, etc., and then also rules out magic, this kind of answer is going to be the only option. Actually, given that, this question might be too POB. $\endgroup$ – MarielS Apr 18 at 20:34
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Magic comes with a price and not everybody can afford a wizard so magical creating children is discarded.

So I thought about adoption but what about royal couples? Since royalty revolves on bloodline, they cannot adopt a child.

So have royal/rich couples use magic while everyone else uses adoptions or surrogates.

This preserves the royal bloodline while allowing for the expense of magic. Royal couples can afford it while peasants can't. But peasants still have options.

One common option might be for two same sex couples to pair off. Within the couples the same sex, but the couples are different sexes from each other. So a lesbian couple and a gay male couple. They can have group sex where the couples arouse their partners and then switch for a brief period of intercourse. Based on some kind of agreement, they either share custody of the children or possibly split custody.

Others have already described how adoption and single surrogates might work, so I won't repeat those here.

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Have the stork bring the babies.

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Magical Gene-modifying Food and Drink

Since you've dictated that magic exists in the world, magic could permeate the world in such a way that some rituals are more available to the lay people. Perhaps one such ritual allows for same-sex couples to have children (they may not even know it is magic, as it is just a part of life for them).

Perhaps a specially prepared meal morphs the gametes of either sex to the versus (so that a sperm cell becomes an egg cell and vice versa). Then there are two cases:

  • The female and female case:

In this case, the meal need only temporarily create the ability to produce sperm in one of the members. Then some act allows the insemination of the non-converted member where pregnancy continues as normal.

  • The male and male case:

In this case, the meal also causes the development of a womb of some kind for one of the members. Somehow the inseminating male fertilizes the other's now converted egg cells which may develop into a child in that temporary womb (perhaps the womb stays to term if the egg is fertilized, or perhaps you have to continue eating or drinking whatever was necessary to keep the womb or the womb would close before a child is born).

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You can try separating inheritance and marriage. If this is a fantasy world, you can push the boundaries of what is acceptable in our world however you want. One of the modes of inheritance the anthropologists have documented in primitive societies of actually that of nephew, a sister's son inheriting to his uncle. Thus, the matter of inheritance is completely separated from the matter of couples, sex and marriage. You can make the inheritance completely matrilineal in your world - children inherit to their mothers and mother's male siblings. Who is the father would be completely irrelevant in this situation. Any two people would be able to become mates, life-partners, call them however you wish. Female would be inherited by her children, however they come across them. Male would be inherited by sister's children. So even same-sex male pair would have heirs. As for where the females could get pregnant if they do not have male partners - you can introduce another very archaic idea of 'temple prostitution'. Nothing in common with prostitution in our sense, though - a very sacred matter of a female going to the temple to pray for children (and to have sex with a masked stranger or priest).

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It really depends on how common homosexuality is in your world and how rigid marriage is.

Homosexuality (including bisexuality) hovers somewhere around 4% for humans, so although modern society has largely accepted LGBT+ individuals, it's actually not terribly relevant at a big-picture level because the 96% are able to do enough of the reproduction for it to simply not matter. The only pressure to personally reproduce either comes from religion or pride in the family name (part of why having daughters was historically a bummer in many cases)- so your world will most likely apply this to royalty and nobles.

If homosexuality is more common, say 20-30%, adoption will be very much normalized by society, especially within nobility and royalty. If it's 50/50 gay/straight, straight couples would be socialized to be very accommodating to the non-reproducing population and might even border on being marginalized/exploited. Tip the scales further to where gay people make up 60-80% of society and straight couples might be socialized to consider it their societal duty to make babies for the others to raise. Bring it to 100% gay (or near to it) and you get a pretty interesting scenario where heterosexual sex would be purely for reproduction because nobody would actually enjoy it. Marriage would be necessarily loose.

Also keep in mind that the higher the incidence of gay kids, the more likely a pregnancy will result in multiple births, in order to compensate for the decreased chances of people passing on their genes. If only 1/5 adults are straight, you might expect quadruplets, quintuplets, and hextuplets a lot more commonly than single births, but this comes with its own set of problems. High rates of homosexuality are fairly unlikely from an evolutionary perspective as heterosexuality is greatly favored by natural selection due to its reproductive efficiency and societies develop at a much faster rate than evolution (assuming humanity is a representative model). This could only really be introduced over hundreds of years of gay acceptance and accommodating breeding strategies, but LGB folks would still almost certainly remain a minority.

If marriage is strictly monogamous and masturbation is forbidden, you're pretty much left with wizards and adoption. This shouldn't be a problem for royalty to reproduce via magic because 1. they can afford it; and 2. if the rarity of homosexuality is similar to humans in our world, this is something that will only come up every few hundred years- about 1 in 25 princes/princesses. For nobles (such as more localized Lords and Ladies), adoption might be somewhat more common if wizards are exceptionally expensive.

If marriage traditions in your world can accommodate it, surrogate fertilization/pregnancy will be a thing, whether it's via sexual intercourse or a primitive form of artificial insemination. In general, this is a bigger problem for gay men than lesbian women due to the lack of a womb, but some women would certainly be generous enough to be surrogate mothers.

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If people in your world are hermaphrodites (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermaphrodite#Humans) (they have both male and female reproductive organs working) they can decide, who will be "father" and who will be "mother" every time they want to make children.

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