A man who used to be a woman is five months pregnant, according to an article he has written for a national magazine that features a picture of him at 22 weeks, with facial hair and a man’s flat chest above a swollen belly.
The case of Thomas Beatie, who was born a woman and describes himself as a “transgender male”, has triggered discussion among ethicists and family groups with one expert describing the development as “playing with fire”.
In a first person piece entitled Labour of Love and published in the most recent issue of The Advocate, a magazine with a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender readership, Mr Beatie says his decision to have a child “has been met with discrimination and outright derision by health care professionals”.
Even his own family members questioned him.
According to his article, Mr Beatie went through a sex change but decided to have only chest reconstruction and testosterone therapy, stopping short of making any changes to the reproductive organs he was born with.
Mr Beatie is legally male and lives with his wife, Nancy, in Bend, Oregon.
The couple, who have been together 10 years, wanted to have children.
Mrs Beatie, however, was unable to conceive, having suffered severe endometriosis and undergone a hysterectomy, her husband writes.
So they decided Mr Beatie should try to carry a baby. He stopped his bimonthly hormone injections and had his first period in eight years, he writes.
After a year - and nine doctors - he was able to get pregnant using frozen donor sperm but the pregnancy was ectopic and required surgery.
A second pregnancy, however, was successful and the couple’s daughter is due on July 3, the article states.
Mr Beatie describes the process as a challenge, listing the reactions they received to a situation that “sparks legal, political and social unknowns”.
The first doctor they approached “told me to shave my facial hair”, Mr Beatie writes. Others turned them away or referred them to a psychologist.
“Receptionists have laughed at us. Friends and family have been unsupportive; most of Nancy’s family doesn’t even know I’m transgender”.
“How does it feel to be a pregnant man?” Mr Beatie writes in the article. “Incredible. Despite the fact that my belly is growing with a new life inside me, I am stable and confident being the man that I am.
“In a technical sense I see myself as my own surrogate, though my gender identity as male is constant. To Nancy, I am her husband carrying our child.
“I will be my daughter’s father, and Nancy will be her mother. We will be a family.”
Media in Hawaii reported that before Mr Beatie became a man, he was a woman called Tracy Langondino.
Friends in Honolulu told local station KITV she was in love with a woman called Nancy Roberts and underwent a sex change because Hawaii’s laws did not recognise sex marriage.
The couple run a T-shirt printing business called Define Normal.
Neal Broverman, associate editor of The Advocate, confirmed to The Daily Telegraph that in addition to talking to Mr Beatie and seeing the picture of him pregnant, the magazine had spoken to his doctor to confirm he was indeed expecting.
The couple have since refused to give the further details when contacted by US television stations and newspapers, citing deals with other media outlets.
Neighbours of the couple have, however, expressed scepticism. “Quite frankly, I think it’s a hoax,” Ron Schlieper told local Oregon station KATU.
“I saw him a few days ago and he didn’t look like that,” he said in reference to the picture in The Advocate.
Mr Schlieper told the station that Mr Beatie’s wife told him that she was pregnant.
Christopher White, director of education and training at San Francisco State University’’ National Sexuality Resource Centre, said he was not surprised at the reactions the couple experienced given they were “a transgender couple presenting themselves as a heterosexual couple”.
“I think we are going to continue to see all sorts of different types of families and this is just one example. (Some) are going to challenge people’s ideas of what is acceptable and normal and there is going to be a lot of resistance to that.
“Yes, this is very unorthodox,” he added, “but at the same time this is about the couple’s decision to have a child and I think they deserve the same respect and care any other person would expect.”
Speaking to Canada’s National Post, Margaret Somerville, founding director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law at McGill University, Montreal, described the case “a deconstruction of our biological reality”.
She said Mr Beatie had “artificially” made himself a man and she would say to him: “You’re not a man, you’re a woman and you’re having a baby and you’re actually having your own baby.
“Just because you put on a clown suit, doesn’t mean that you don’t still exist underneath.’”
She added: “It’s a very touchy thing, this deconstruction of our biological reality and the institutions that have existed across all kinds of societies over thousands and thousands of years to establish stability, respect and certainty. I think we’re just playing with fire.”
Armen Hareyan, publisher and CEO of eMaxHealth, an independent health news website, added: “As a Christian I believe this is morally wrong. I feel that this is just too far and that they are trying to do an experiment with the child.
“If they wanted to have a child, they could take an infant from an orphanage. They should not be doing this.”
Labor of Love
From The Advocate March 26, 2008
To our neighbors, my wife, Nancy, and I don’t appear in the least unusual. To those in the quiet Oregon community where we live, we are viewed just as we are - a happy couple deeply in love. Our desire to work hard, buy our first home, and start a family was nothing out of the ordinary. That is, until we decided that I would carry our child.
I am transgender, legally male, and legally married to Nancy. Unlike those in same-sex marriages, domestic partnerships, or civil unions, Nancy and I are afforded the more than 1,100 federal rights of marriage. Sterilization is not a requirement for sex reassignment, so I decided to have chest reconstruction and testosterone therapy but kept my reproductive rights. Wanting to have a biological child is neither a male nor female desire, but a human desire.
Ten years ago, when Nancy and I became a couple, the idea of us having a child was more dream than plan. I always wanted to have children. However, due to severe endometriosis 20 years ago, Nancy had to undergo a hysterectomy and is unable to carry a child. But after the success of our custom screen-printing business and a move from Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest two years ago, the timing finally seemed right. I stopped taking my bimonthly testosterone injections. It had been roughly eight years since I had my last menstrual cycle, so this wasn’t a decision that I took lightly. My body regulated itself after about four months, and I didn’t have to take any exogenous estrogen, progesterone, or fertility drugs to aid my pregnancy.
Our situation sparks legal, political, and social unknowns. We have only begun experiencing opposition from people who are upset by our situation. Doctors have discriminated against us, turning us away due to their religious beliefs. Health care professionals have refused to call me by a male pronoun or recognize Nancy as my wife. Receptionists have laughed at us. Friends and family have been unsupportive; most of Nancy’s family doesn’t even know I’m transgender.
This whole process, from trying to get pregnant to being pregnant, has been a challenge for us. The first doctor we approached was a reproductive endocrinologist. He was shocked by our situation and told me to shave my facial hair. After a $300 consultation, he reluctantly performed my initial checkups. He then required us to see the clinic’s psychologist to see if we were fit to bring a child into this world and consulted with the ethics board of his hospital. A few months and a couple thousand dollars later, he told us that he would no longer treat us, saying he and his staff felt uncomfortable working with “someone like me.”
In total, nine different doctors have been involved. This is why it took over one year to get access to a cryogenic sperm bank to purchase anonymous donor vials, and why Nancy and I eventually resorted to home insemination.
When I finally got pregnant for the first time, I ended up having an ectopic pregnancy with triplets. It was a life-threatening event that required surgical intervention, resulting in the loss of all embryos and my right fallopian tube. When my brother found out about my loss, he said, “It’s a good thing that happened. Who knows what kind of monster it would have been.”
On successfully getting pregnant a second time, we are proud to announce that this pregnancy is free of complications and our baby girl has a clean bill of health. We are happily awaiting her birth, with an estimated due date of July 3, 2008.
How does it feel to be a pregnant man? Incredible. Despite the fact that my belly is growing with a new life inside me, I am stable and confident being the man that I am. In a technical sense I see myself as my own surrogate, though my gender identity as male is constant. To Nancy, I am her husband carrying our child - I am so lucky to have such a loving, supportive wife. I will be my daughter’s father, and Nancy will be her mother. We will be a family.
Outside the local medical community, people don’t know I’m five months’ pregnant. But our situation ultimately will ask everyone to embrace the gamut of human possibility and to define for themselves what is normal.
Advocate.com © 2008 PlanetOut Inc