Archive for March, 2008

A transgender pregnancy

I’m going to keep following this story: a Bend transgendered man is pregnant. He and his wife are happy to conceive and detail their experience in a story published recently by the venerable Advocate.

KATU news here in Portland questions the story, supposing that it may be a hoax.

What’s going on there? I suspect that KATU is just trying to play to more than one common public response to this new situation.

Let’s assume that this isn’t the first ‘male pregnancy‘ and move on to the issue at hand: should transmen who are biologically able to conceive be able to have children?

I really can’t help but think that yes, they should. I don’t have a problem with anyone having babies as long as there is no substantial health risk involved. In the situation of Thomas Beattie, our pregnant man, it seems as though his pregnancy is safe, since he has been off testosterone for a lengthy period of time.

The ability to conceive, under one’s own chosen circumstances, seems fundamental to human agency. Our biological bodies are the very basis of our belonging to ourselves; it’s what we own. Therefore, it would seem that as a human being, conceiving another human being would be a given. Naturally, we know this boundary to be within the female – men can’t give birth. But what happens when the boundary between men and women is so completely blurred that men can have children?

This also puts into question the location of woman: can you give birth yet not be a woman?

I really don’t know. I’m concerned first of all for the agency of the unborn, and second for the absolute agency of the individual to acertain the circumstances of conception and birth. If anything, I think that this just further indicates how gender identity is a performance and is completely malleable – we decide our degree of maleness or femaleness. But, with some rare exceptions, our physical bodies carry a strong mark of particular reproductive capacity, delineating two very specific functions (I refer here to the role of sperm and ovum).

I can’t help but think that people born women have it a little easier than people born men to do the switch and yet still conceive.

What do you think?

March 28, 2008 at 4:41 am 29 comments


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