Friday, April 4, 2008

Thomas Beatie - the pregnant man

Film poster for Junior - Copyright 1994, Universal PicturesImage from WikipediaOkay, I just have to get this off my chest.

Pregnant: having a child or other offspring developing in the body; with child or young, as a woman or female mammal (

Man: an adult male person, as distinguished from a boy or a woman (

By looking at the two definitions above, one wouldn't normally put the two together. Either you can be pregnant, or you can be a man? Right?

Back in 1994 (at least to my recollection), the idea of a pregnant man started to circulate when the movie Junior came out. It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Alex Hesse who decides to attempt to carry a pregnancy during part of a fertility research project. It was a hilarious movie and really started us thinking. Fast forward to 2008. Dr. Alex Hesse is now Thomas Beatie, the fertility research project is now a touching act of love and the fictional movie is now real life. Thomas Beatie is a man and he is pregnant.

How can this be possible? One can't be a man and still have a womb capable of carrying a pregnancy! Not true actually. Every year more and more people, men and women that feel they were born into the wrong gender, find the courage to undergo transgender surgery. Transgender surgery, also known as sexual reassignment is a process that is very difficult for these people to go through. It begins with a lot of education and research, followed by strict guidelines that the patients have to follow before they can even undergo the actual surgery. Most have to live as the new gender for a year or longer before they are allowed to undergo the surgery. That's if they can even find a surgeon willing to do it.

So, not only is it very difficult for someone to change genders, but once it finally happens, they often suffer criticism and intolerance from many people. I often wonder what if would be like to be a boy born in a girl's body, or to be a girl born in a boy's body? I believe that it's more than just environmental, I believe that genetically some people, in their hearts, souls and minds are born a different gender than what their anatomical parts say. Many people live their whole lives trapped in the wrong body and their okay with that. Others, dress and act like the gender they believe they truly should be. A much smaller percentage of people go the whole 10 yards and are able to transform their bodies so that they no longer have to feel trapped. They make themselves legally the other gender.

Thomas Beatie is one of these people. He was a man living in a woman's body. When he finally made the decision to surgically transform his body into that of a man's, he chose to keep his reproductive rights. He is legally a man, with a uterus. Later, these reproductive rights would come into play when he and his wife found that she could not conceive. In an inspiring act of love and kindness he decided that if she could not carry a baby, he would do it for her.

As a transgender man, he already knew the hate and criticism he would face. Now, pregnant, doctors refuse to acknowledge his wife, receptionists laugh at him and he is constantly having insults thrown at him.

I don't know about anyone else, but if I could not conceive a child and my husband could by whatever means necessary, I would gladly accept his offer to do it. To me, it's a very caring that he did. To bare the brunt of all the negativity that's coming at him when all he wanted to do was give his wife a child is a very compassionate thing that he did.

I would love to think that the human race is a decent one, but I'm starting to believe otherwise. Recently I've heard comments like:
  • "It's just too weird. If she wanted to become a man - why did she get pregnant? Men do not get pregnant. I hate to judge people, but I just can't help it this time. I just wish we were still in a time where you wouldn't have to wonder if someone was a man or a woman."
  • "I can not for the life of me find it in my heart to accept this as ok. It is against everything I believe in my faith as being right and acceptable. I know that makes me sound like a bigot, but so be it. I feel bad for this child- if they didn't want to be a circus side show act they should have thought about their decisions from the get-go."
  • "That is just wronge if a man was meant to have a baby they would have been created that way."
  • "Its just crazy and disgusting in my opinion."
You know, it makes me sad. If someone was meant to die, why don't we let them? Why do we use modern medicine to heal them and allow them to live many more years? Why do we have cancer research centers? Why do we have fertility clinics? There are many things that we are "meant" to do that we use our medical knowledge to change, why is this different?

I believe that if a child is brought into a home with loving parents (or a parent) than the child will probably be fine (barring abuse). Why does it matter what gender the parents are? To me, it doesn't. Two women can raise a child fine, two men can raise a child fine and a man and woman can also raise a child just fine. In this case, a man and a woman will be raising the child, who cares who actually carries her? I don't think you can say that this is just a publicity stunt and that the parents won't love the child. The man is giving up his identity and his physical safety to bring a child into the world. You can't get much more love than that.

Maybe I see things differently because I had a friend whose birth mother became her father, but still, I believe we need just a touch more tolerance.

I know I had more things to say in this blog, but it's been a few hours since I started so most of my big important thoughts are now gone. To Thomas Beatie - Congratulations on the impending birth of your daughter (July 3rd) and stay strong! It will all be worth it when you look into your daughter's eyes for the first time!

To all of those that feel he is disgusting and that this is wrong - I hope you never are in a situation where you need medical advances to save your life, the life or your child or help you conceive a child. You don't deserve it.

To everyone else - thanks for reading - you get a cookie! :D

Before I leave to go finish watching Ellen, I'd like to remind you about the March for Babies banner at the top of my page. I'm walking tomorrow in our local march and it would be awesome if you would help sponsor me. The mission of March for Babies is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. $1 or $10 will go a long way toward helping the March for Babies in their mission.


Ashley Ladd said...

I blogged about Thomas Beattie, too, last week. I believe in live and let live. I do wonder, though, how this will affect his little girl, having it be so public as so many people are so unforgiving.

Good luck with your walking for March of Babies. I'm walking for my charity, Food For The Poor, tomorrow, and raising funds myself.

Bess McBride said...

What a wonderful blog! I agree with everything you've said, and I'm thrilled to hear folks like you speak out about this. Thanks for telling me about Thomas Beatie. I didn't know! Best of luck to him! And congratulations to the family! May the intolerant someday realize how cruel they are and ask for absolution at the foot of their higher power!

Leavinglascrunchy said...

I don't have a problem with the "guy" having a baby. I also am pretty open minded and think if having a sex change makes him happier then more power to him. But what is really driving me crazy with all the hoopla is that they keep saying he is a pregnant man. Well he isn't. He is a woman that had a sex change. What would be news worthy is if they had created an artificial womb inside a man or something like that. This is not the same thing.

I also don't believe that you can have your cake and eat it too. Either he is a man or he is a woman. He chose to stay a woman, at least to me by keeping the most sacred part of being a woman, by keeping his womb. You don't get to have it both ways, or wait maybe this will be the new trend.

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