Donna Rose

Pregnant Man the Tip of a Much Deeper Iceberg

Filed By Donna Rose | March 27, 2008 12:20 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Donna Rose, FTM, pregnant, Robert Eads, Southern Comfort, Thomas Beatie, transgender

The media frenzy begins....

It was only a matter of time. Thomas Beatie, the Oregon trans-man who has publicly come out as pregnant in the current edition of The Advocate represents all the reasons that trans-people have a difficult time fitting in a binary world based on sex-roles and stereotypes. If you thought the bathroom issue that many transgender people face was contentious, then let me tell you something - you ain't seen nothing yet.

Thomas, his marriage, his unborn baby, and his very right to exist will all be called into question as unfounded fears and phobias run rampant. It has already started. Hate disguised as morality is again rearing its ugly head and the focus is not simply this man or his family. It's all of us. And whereas there are even those in the trans community who are uncomfortable with this, I'd argue that being uncomfortable isn't necessarily a bad thing. This discussion cannot be simply about Mr. Beatie's right to be pregnant, or anyone's right to judge it. It's got to be about respect for his right to live his life and have a family. I'm afraid that somehow that will get lost in the din to come.

Many of us have known about this situation for several weeks, and we were quietly amazed when it first appeared online at Advocate.com on Saturday afternoon, March 15, and nothing happened. People had been preparing themselves for this for weeks, expecting a tidal wave of response that never came. We tip-toed around it, knowing that it would eventually reach the masses, but not wanting to be the one to put it there. Little by little it has been seeping into mainstream press. When the Associated Press finally reported it this morning any sense of calm was gone. It is everywhere tonight, and the tsunami of response is just beginning.

Have no doubt - the story in The Advocate is just the start of a media blitz that will turn into an unbridled frenzy by the end of next week when Mr. Beattie is scheduled to appear on Oprah. Concurrently, he will be featured in People magazine. Trans people who bristle at the notion of an MTF being filmed putting on make-up or of getting into a dress as sensationalistic and stereotypical will choke on their tongues when they see photos of Mr. Beattie in the doctor's office with his feet up in stirrups. Just you wait. This is going to get messy.

I couldn't avoid this anywhere today. There was a report about it on Good Morning America this morning. I got in my car to drive to work and the "Morning Sickness" on KUPD was interviewing some Extreme Fighting guy and the discussion turned to the pregnant man. Sodom and Gomorra were mentioned. God was mentioned. Everyone had a few good laughs. It made me mad.

I got an email about a poll today asking "Is society ready for male pregnancy?" The three potential responses are: Yes / I'm afraid not / I can't even look at this picture. One overseas newspaper headline read "American Transvestite is Five Months Pregnant." One friend wrote to tell me that her mother accepts the "Transgender thing" just fine but she's really struggling over this. I'll bet.

I can't help but think that this is the Christine Jorgenson story of our time. It will make the firestorm over whether or not Renee Richards should be allowed to play professional women's tennis look like a tea party. It will push ENDA to the sidelines in a huge way. And, I daresay, that it has several very dire potential consequences. Still - I'm proud of Mr. Beattie. He's not the first person to do this but he's certainly the first to be public about it. I can't help but look at the photo of him in The Advocate and think that it's beautiful and pure and good. It's a shame others can't see it that way, too.

No matter who you are, this story will likely affect you in some way. You just don't know it yet. It will refocus discussion on what, exactly, constitutes a man and a woman. It will raise questions about family and marriage that will transcend transgender. It will spark any number of moral debates. There will be pushback and it will not be pretty. It may even cause you to ask questions about your own open-mindedness and acceptance that you thought you had answered but somehow may now realize you haven't.

Although some are seeing mostly doom and gloom from this I'm not there. In fact, I see rays of light that seem like hope to me. The same way that the disappointments of ENDA got people saying the word "transgender" in places I never imagined hearing it, so too will this situation spark conversation. To be sure, much of the conversation will be negative and will make our blood boil, but that's the nature of social change. This is how it happens. But there is a positive side as well. We just need to give it time to brew.

Some see the disturbing portion of this story as the pregnancy itself. For many in the transgender community, however, a significant concern is the fact that Thomas was turned away by 9 doctors who refused to help. Somehow, I can't escape visions of Robert Eads, a trans-man who lived in Georgia and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1996. After his diagnosis he was turned away by two-dozen doctors before finding one who would treat him - almost a year later. Despite heroic efforts to save him help came too late and he succumbed to the cancer in 1999 at the age of 53. His amazing story is captured in the award-winning movie Southern Comfort, and his unceasing dignity in the face of tragedy is something those who watch the movie will never forget.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I have some other significant concerns as well. I have concerns about the safety of Mr. Beatie and his wife. I have concerns about the health of the baby - these kinds of things come with added risk. I have concerns about the impact of this on other things. I have concerns about lots of things but the best thing I can do to address them is to offer my prayers and support. Although I've never met Thomas or even spoken to him, he is a brother, and I will defend his right to be himself and to live his life. That's something any of us should expect to be able to do. And that, truly, is what's at stake here.


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You mean MTF, before, right? A FTM man would not be putting on a dress ;)

I think the close association with children and transgender people have been making those on the religious right uncomfortable -- fact of life is that trans people are kids, trans people can have kids, and that's just a fact of life.

I just really hope that there isn't going to be a legislative or otherwise serious backlash against this couple or trans people in general.

When will the hate finally end?!

Amen Donna, live and let live.

This is his second pregnancy, the first ended in a miscarriage, to which his brother said something like,"Thank god, no telling what kind of monster it would have been."

Yeah, a very christian attitude there. For real stupidity, I am waiting for sally kern to comment.

Personally, it is kind of weird in my still partially indoctrinated mind. There is the whole, women have babies stuff that we grow up with type thing. But it isn't something that, now a days, I can't get my head around.

Slowly but surely my brain is getting beyond the whole gender binary brainwashing that I was forced to endure my whole life, and that kept me from transitioning until later in life. Guess repeated listening to the Kinks "Lola" helped in it's own small way.

I wish him a safe and healthy pregnancy. May the Goddess keep him and his wife from harm.

Actually, I was just giving a "for instance" on the typical stuff we see in shows and documentaries about trans-people. One of the unfortunate things is that we rarely see trans-men in these things. That's about to change in a big way.

Mr. Beatie is pushing the dialog forward with his decision to be public about his pregnancy in my opinion.

My only concern is the utter lack of long term research (or my inability to locate any research) of stopping pro-longed testosterone injections. Is the uterus capable of sustaining a pregnancy to term? Is there any research indicating how quickly the endocrine system will re-adjust in order to hormonally regulate a pregnancy? Gosh this certainly leaves me with tons of questions, but I wish Mr. and Mrs. Beatie all the best for their expanding family.

And in the end, we just have to trust his decision and assume he found answers to my aforementioned questions.

Your article is very aptly titled, Donna. I'm not looking forward to the media coverage, and I fear legislation which will no doubt be forthcoming from the religious right regulating - well - anything they can manage to regulate.

Obviously, we of the left support reproductive choice; this being the most conspicuous one, though. And those of us who have dealt with gender variance should certainly support however anyone else negotiates through their gender expression.

But, this still begs a couple of questions, several of which start off with, "what was the point?".

As in, what was the point of publicizing the pregnancy? Surely it isn't an effort to convince transmen to become pregnant. It wouldn't help anyone else wanting to become pregnant to achieve that. I would imagine quite the opposite. It doesn't help the public regard transsexuals as "real" in our true gender. It isn't going to help him and his family get through the pregnancy safely or raise their child. And it isn't even the first time its been done, so it isn't for the sake of history.

As in, what was the point of becoming pregnant? I know I'm going to get slammed for this, but I do have a point. I *get* that people want to have their own DNA-carrying offspring. But I also get that there are many unwanted children available for adoption and that our world is overpopulated. And I get that all of the extra expense, time, and energy that is spent on "miracle pregnancies" could be spent on a thousand other things that would improve the health, wealth, and well-being of the family, their community, and mankind. (Yes, I apply this philosophy regardless of the makeup and formulation of the families any of the prospective parents)

I also know that parents of their non-biological children feel no differently about them than their biological counterparts. (Sorry if anyone finds terms like "biological" offensive in this usage. I'm at a loss for a different descriptor)

In any case, while Donna is undoubtedly correct that this will prompt much discussion and awareness about gender roles and possibilities, I don't know that I was prepared for this coming storm. And certainly the community wasn't given a choice if we wanted to join this battle.

Thomas is not the first, if I'm not mistaken. If this is his second attempt, then his previous pregnancy maybe what I heard of. I have a feeling that others may have also became pregnant without anyone ever hearing about it.

See the movie Transparent for 19 previous examples. That movie was made in 2005, there's been more since.

So what's the point? Not of bringing a child into the world, one we can absolutely guarantee is going to have a loving, nurturing family, but what is the point of the publicity?

To say that we exist. To say that we are routinely denied necessary medical care, and a whole host of Human Rights others take for granted. To let people, including Gay and Lesbian people, know that we, quite simply, are.

- "To say that we exist."

Who? Transsexuals, or pregnant transsexuals? I would imagine that most people do know that transsexual people exist. I'm not sure that knowing that transsexuals can (and do) become pregnant broadens the public's understanding about us, or makes them more supportive of our civil rights.

As for access to medical care, I had wanted to point out in my original post that it isn't quite the same to be denied treatment for life threatening illnesses versus getting advanced fertility therapy to have a baby. While both are inappropriate, the consequences cannot be compared.

the governator did it, even if it was a comedy. he was a great mommy.

this is just another example of mysogyny. society is not shocked about the "joan of arc" syndrome, so much as they are about a man being feminine. and thomas is a man experiencing a very feminine moment...pregnancy. instant outrage? probably. unfortunately.

i had some moments back in the day trying to fulfill the role of a male. one of these indiscretions resulted in a daughter. i thank God every day for that gift. now i have a beautiful and happy grandson.

many transgender women have children and grandchildren. there are rarely regrets on this issue. in some instances, the relationships have soured but parent/child relationships are often difficult; they have ups and downs....but you always love your children.

thomas is brave and loving and i wish him well. i am not certain as to why he is going on oprah, or why he is seeking publicity. or even if he is seeking publicity. i would imagine pregnancy to be a more private issue, even if it becomes physically apparent. perhaps he feels compelled to speak against the negative reactions to his condition?

in any event, as a community we should provide support and respect for his decision...it was borne from love that is pure, the love for a child to be. and that is never wrong.

think about the historical outrage that was expressed if a "white" woman gave birth to a child fathered by a "black" male. the child was often referred to as an "abomination". people of color were considered subhuman...non-people...much like transgender people are still considered today.

the outrage exists because "people like that" have "no right" to procreate. the act threatens the "sanctity and the purity" of the priveleged class.

The future is our responsibility, and our reward or punishment….

How society accepts or rejects is often based upon perception and consideration by those under scrutiny, and not so much about actual bigotry and hate. Bigotry and hate come later after fears are fully validated by individuals and their actions. The acts of one, can color the many and shade everything.

This last weekend I went to church with my friend. It was her childhood and community church. She is now transitioned and several people, who once knew her as a man, were there. My friend chose to remain stealth and not cause any kind of situation. (At least not that morning) Yet, we were treated so very nice and many went out of their way to show us special care and attention. The Presbyterian Ministers and many others made an effort to place an assuring hand on my shoulder and give a very warm smile.

I can remember in my past at my old church, where I was heavily involved in my male role. How we would invite folks from Africa in their traditional garb, and other American Blacks who had established themselves as clean cut community attributes. All were received with honor and warm hugs. Then one Super Bowl weekend we invited a black minister and a few dozen of the street gang community he was ministering to. It was the first time a bunch of white people had shown many of these kids any kind of respect and desire to share. However, others who had seen street gang appearance and some of the misguided actions of a couple of individuals responded in fear and rejection.

In a similar set of circumstances a review of the gay community was being discussed. Our church had an open door policy, and we were talking about how we could reach out to the GLBt. In that meeting they showed films from Pride parades and some of the behavior exhibited. The door was closed and fear and hatred took over. I remember sitting there and watching the reaction of those present. Some I knew were gay, others struggling with issues as I was. It all stopped, and my position and community in the church, and the fact that my Transsexuality was known, and now associated with the actions of some offensive gays parading half naked in the streets of San Francisco. Booth were liberal Presbyterian churches, yet because of the actions of a few, the many are hurt and subject to fear and bigotry. In that church my life was over and those who once said they loved me ran in fear for the children’s sake.

I can only hope that Thomas Beatie and his spouse exhibit the highest level of loving and marital demeanor. That they do not get sucked into the derision and political sewer that the GLBt and Transgender seem to wallow in. Wouldn’t it be as well wonderful for Beatie family to set an example that anyone could look upon with admiration. That the Beatie child grow up in a loving home that is completely accepted in the community, and that child grow to see his/her family in enduring memory when striking out to have a family of his/her own.

Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing!

"Thomas isn't being a TRUE transman in that he must not be GID because if he we're he'd have no part of carrying a child."

I don't think I get a vote on who's a REAL transman. And for your assertion to be correct - you have to assume no natal men would ever choose to carry a pregnancy given the opportunity - and circumstances. I'm quite sure there would be many who would - particularly if their spouses couldn't.

I wonder if a gay man did this - would they be a TRUE gay man?

I really couldn't get a handle on this until I saw the situation from the other perspective. There are m>f gender variant folks who father children, and this situation with Mr. Beatie is somewhat similar. I'm beginning to believe this does, in fact, support the belief among many of us that our gender is not defined by our genitalia or our sexual orientation.
There are many of us in the T community whose significant other is another woman.
We simply love who we love and we should let it go at that.
I think the discussions surrounding this issue can lead to a further erosion of the binary concept of gender, and open possibilities for our living our lives as we choose without the artificial limits placed on our lives by uninformed and mean-spirited dictators of so-called morality as they define it.
I share the concern expressed by others about the male hormones on the fetus, but I wish
Mr. Beatie and his family well. He will need our prayers to get through all of this. I am concerned, however, that by his choosing to become so public about this, it may lead to unforseen consequences for himself and others.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | March 27, 2008 10:24 AM

I remember in 1971 writing a strong paper in college against the concept of a "test tube" baby. I feared the long term effects on the child in society. I ended the paper with a question: "Just because we can do something is it REALLY the right thing for all persons concerned." There used to be a joke about the first man being pregnant becoming rich beyond all imagination.

He is on Oprah to hype his upcoming book my dears. This is not trans gender liberation, but exploitation of himself, his family, marriage, children and all for money. Sorry this is on Oprah as I may actually see it in Thailand. It belongs on Jerry Springer. I would far and away rather see us concentrate on civil rights for lesbian mothers and their spouses, Gay men and their partners and who raises their children than this situation where the individual bearing the child already has the full protections of marriage to his "wife," but has a pregnancy as a legal male. I can also appreciate how in the transgender community itself, this issue can create fundamental questions of fairness.

I can't fault any person/couple for doing what is necessary to make the best of the only life they will have. However. if the result of his going public is a repeal of Oregon's quarter-century-old statutory recognition of gender transition - or something even worse such as hardwiring transsexual marriages into DOMA prohibitions in Oregon and/or elsewhere - then will it have been worth the cost?

When I first read Beatie's article, my reaction was one of delight, delight in his obvious love for his wife and his child-to-be, in his obvious pride in being a trans man, and especially at the consternation that this event is likely to cause in those who still believe that men should be men and women should be women and "ne'er the twain shall meet."

Some have expressed concern about the health of Beatie and his baby. In several articles about Beatie's pregnancy that I read yesterday, several endocrinologists, including some who have dealt with the pregnancies of other trans men, said that Beatie's testosterone injections should have no negative impact on his child, especially since he stopped those injections 4 months before becoming pregnant.

I also have a couple of comments on some things that Rory said above. First, Rory said:

"As for access to medical care, . . . it isn't quite the same to be denied treatment for life threatening illnesses versus getting advanced fertility therapy to have a baby. While both are inappropriate, the consequences cannot be compared."

Of course, it isn't the same but there is nothing about the differences between those situations that justifies denying Beatie proper medical care.
There are some who disagree with providing "advanced fertility therapy" to women on grounds of morality or because they think those resources could be better devoted elsewhere, but there is no reason that Beatie should be treated differently in this respect than any other person who is or desires to be pregnant. There is nothing about his status as a trans man that justifies the denial of medical care for himself or his baby. Besides, in many circumstances, proper medical care during pregnancy can make the difference between life and death for the father and the child.

More importantly, this argument is a "red herring." As the original article made clear, other than stopping his testosterone injections, Beatie had NO medical intervention to help him get pregnant. His pregnancy was truly "do it yourself," including the artificial insemination.

Rory also complained that "the community wasn't given a choice if we wanted to join this battle." Since when do any of us have the right to dictate the choices of another person, whether it's the decision to get pregnant or to publicly celebrate that blessed event, even if we think it's inappropriate "exploitation"? Yes, we each are entitled to our feelings about this event, including the fact that some may wish that they didn't have to deal with this event and its publicity, but what we don't have is the right to complain that we didn't get to make choices for how any one of us, trans or otherwise, live our lives.

Lastly, my major concern for Beatie and his wife Nancy is that the publicity about their relationship may lead to either litigation or legislation that will prohibit or restrict the ability of trans men and women to marry. So far, most court decisions in the U.S. addressing the validity of a marriage between a trans person who have met the legal requirements for changing their legal sex/gender on their birth certificates and a person of the opposite (post-transition) sex/gender have held that such marriages are invalid same-sex marriages. Regardless of the impacts a similar decision in Oregon might have on any of the rest of us, there are myriad legal advantages to Beatie, Nancy and their child of being born into a marriage that it would be tragic for them to lose. As one small example, the husband and wife in a marriage are both presumed to be the legal parents of a child born into that relationship, regardless of whether they are both related biologically to the child. If their marriage is invalidated, Nancy will be denied the rights (and responsibilities) of being a legal parent unless she legally adopts their baby.

Personally, I wish them all every happiness this life has to offer and celebrate their decision to bring another life into such a loving relationship.

In Becoming a Visible Man, Jamison Green talks about when Patrick Califia (author of Sex Changes, amongst other books) & his partner Matt Rice, also FTM, got pregnant - and also recounts the ways the couple were vilified by plenty of FTMs.

So the trans community has been through this before, even if we're not all aware of it. Hopefully that will help.

I hope the guys have a great pregnancy and enjoy parenthood even if they come to regret the media frenzy around both.

When I first read Beatie's article, my reaction was one of delight, delight in his obvious love for his wife and his child-to-be, in his obvious pride in being a trans man, and especially at the consternation that this event is likely to cause in those who still believe that men should be men and women should be women and "ne'er the twain shall meet."

Some have expressed concern about the health of Beatie and his baby. In several articles about Beatie's pregnancy that I read yesterday, several endocrinologists, including some who have dealt with the pregnancies of other trans men, said that Beatie's testosterone injections should have no negative impact on his child, especially since he stopped those injections 4 months before becoming pregnant.

I also have a couple of comments on some things that Rory said above. First, Rory said:

"As for access to medical care, . . . it isn't quite the same to be denied treatment for life threatening illnesses versus getting advanced fertility therapy to have a baby. While both are inappropriate, the consequences cannot be compared."

Of course, it isn't the same but there is nothing about the differences between those situations that justifies denying Beatie proper medical care.
There are some who disagree with providing "advanced fertility therapy" to women on grounds of morality or because they think those resources could be better devoted elsewhere, but there is no reason that Beatie should be treated differently in this respect than any other person who is or desires to be pregnant. There is nothing about his status as a trans man that justifies the denial of medical care for himself or his baby. Besides, in many circumstances, proper medical care during pregnancy can make the difference between life and death for the father and the child.

More importantly, this argument is a "red herring." As the original article made clear, other than stopping his testosterone injections, Beatie had NO medical intervention to help him get pregnant. His pregnancy was truly "do it yourself," including the artificial insemination.

Rory also complained that "the community wasn't given a choice if we wanted to join this battle." Since when do any of us have the right to dictate the choices of another person, whether it's the decision to get pregnant or to publicly celebrate that blessed event, even if we think it's inappropriate "exploitation"? Yes, we each are entitled to our feelings about this event, including the fact that some may wish that they didn't have to deal with this event and its publicity, but what we don't have is the right to complain that we didn't get to make choices for how any one of us, trans or otherwise, live our lives.

Lastly, my major concern for Beatie and his wife Nancy is that the publicity about their relationship may lead to either litigation or legislation that will prohibit or restrict the ability of trans men and women to marry. So far, most court decisions in the U.S. addressing the validity of a marriage between a trans person who have met the legal requirements for changing their legal sex/gender on their birth certificates and a person of the opposite (post-transition) sex/gender have held that such marriages are invalid same-sex marriages. Regardless of the impacts a similar decision in Oregon might have on any of the rest of us, there are myriad legal advantages to Beatie, Nancy and their child of being born into a marriage that it would be tragic for them to lose. As one small example, the husband and wife in a marriage are both presumed to be the legal parents of a child born into that relationship, regardless of whether they are both related biologically to the child. If their marriage is invalidated, Nancy will be denied the rights (and responsibilities) of being a legal parent unless she legally adopts their baby.

Personally, I wish them all every happiness this life has to offer and celebrate their decision to bring another life into such a loving relationship.

I agree that this will probably be huge in the media. I think this is going to be one of those things that'll get a "where are they now" documentary thirty years from now...

Leave it to Alex to put it in perspective.

My only hope is that there will not be a "Beatie's Law" that comes out of this prohibiting marriage or other rights to transpeople and their partners. You know the ridiculous right (formerly known as the religious right, until sally kern opened her mouth. ;)) is going to scream bloody murder about this thing.

Here in Texas, one of our local transwomyn who's wife has stuck by her through transition, was called by Human Resources at her job, and told that she would have to change her coverage, since she can no longer be married to her wife under the constitutional amendment that was passed a few years ago.

Lets hope the same doesn't happen in Oregon.

Well, that's just great. I wasn't scared until I read this.

It doesn't make sense since TX isn't supposed to recognize gender change anyway, so in TX her (MTF) partner should legally still be seen as a man.

Not that it has to make sense, of course.

Donna, you have an amazingly positive outlook on this whole situation. And it's interesting that you mentioned Robert Eads, because I was thinking the same thing when I heard this story.

I'm never cease to be astounded by what I see from trans people. First "women" who wouldn't part with their penis for all the tea in China, and now a "man" whose mother instinct is alive and well in Oregon. If the couple wanted a child, there were surrogates who would have been more than happy to ablige.

I'm sorry, perhaps a few of the GLBT fringe see this person as a man...I don't. Men don't want to become pregnant, PERIOD.

Enough of you have tiptoed around the issue in the preceding comments. As Stellewriter alluded, the actions of a few can affect everyone. All this idiot has done, and is doing, is to focus the public on his genderscrewed version of male and female while simultaneously not only further delegitimizing real transsexuals (yes, REAL...capital R) but also inviting the entire planet to put us under a microscope of scrutiny. That may be what the "out and proud" crew want...the GLB as well, but I don't...nor does anyone I have talked to.

The GLB is up in arms over the "less than heterosexual" saga as of late with regards to their marriage quest and the opposition/compromise to it. Anyone who thinks this will further ANY cause is out of their mind. All this issue will do is to continue reinforcing the public's perception that whatever post ops females (or males) are, they are NOT female (or male) but something way "less than".

Ridiculous.

What a strange thing to say, Susan. I could have sworn you had a daughter by impregnating your partner using your own sperm. Maybe you'd forgotten?

Abby -

- "Of course, it isn't the same but there is nothing about the differences between those situations that justifies denying Beatie proper medical care."

That's why I said it was inappropriate.

- "Besides, in many circumstances, proper medical care during pregnancy can make the difference between life and death for the father and the child."

Obviously. That's why my comments were about becoming pregnant, not medically managing the pregnancy.

- "other than stopping his testosterone injections, Beatie had NO medical intervention to help him get pregnant."

That wasn't my understanding of the situation.

- "Since when do any of us have the right to dictate the choices of another person"

I didn't say anything of the sort. He was free to become pregnant. But once he chose to take it to the media, it became an issue with a captial I. He was free to do that, as well. But no one can argue that that didn't effect an entire community, and that the community didn't have a choice about it.

- "but what we don't have is the right to complain that we didn't get to make choices for how any one of us, trans or otherwise, live our lives."

Actually, complaining is one of our few rights.

- "Lastly, my major concern for Beatie and his wife Nancy is that the publicity about their relationship may lead to either litigation or legislation that will prohibit or restrict the ability of trans men and women to marry."

...Or the right to transition, or get the appropriate documentation, or the right to reproduce. I wouldn't put it past the fringe right to demand sterilization as a prerequisite for transition.

That's a helluva legacy that the community would have to bear because one person sent their story to a magazine.

- "So the trans community has been through this before, even if we're not all aware of it. Hopefully that will help."

Not really, Helen. Their baby was already born before the community was generally aware of their circumstances. And even today, I don't think their story is widely known beyond the community.

BTW, thanks for all you do for this community, and for being who you are.

- "Here in Texas, one of our local transwomyn who's wife has stuck by her through transition, was called by Human Resources at her job, and told that she would have to change her coverage, since she can no longer be married to her wife under the constitutional amendment that was passed a few years ago."

That isn't correct. Once there is a marriage, it cannot be dissolved without a court order.

Your friend should contact Phyllis Frye, Esq. in Houston.

Rory, there is something that is fishy about what HR is doing to her, and I do not know the entire story. I would actually think pointing out the ruling in the Littleton case would be enough to take care of any questions, unless they added a "screw the trannies" clause to the amendment.

As far as I know, it is still legal for me to marry my girlfriend down in San Antonio if I wanted to. That is the district where the Littleton case was ruled on.

You'd have sworn wrong, Felix, I have no children...I'd remember.

Diddly, bureaucrats often make their own interpretations, and proclaim something a fact; even if they pulled it out of their ass. And if the bureaucrat is a transphobic Texan whose inclined to screw us, they're just as happy to go with it than learn the truth.

And you're right, the Littleton decision legalizes same sex marriages when one partner is trans, in the county where the case originated.

The "butterfly effect" concept proposes that an event as seemingly innocuous as the fluttering of butterfly wings can - through a complex chain of causality - produce disproportionately large consequences, such as the prevention or formation of a tornado in the case of our unwitting Lepidopteran. Of course, the probability of any given micro-scale event triggering such an extreme result is quite low, as macro-scale factors tend to dampen minor events to the point of irrelevance. It takes truly peculiar, complex and precariously balanced circumstances for a butterfly in Asia to save or destroy a town in Kansas.

Whether we are the dreamer or the dream, we are very much like butterflies. However, factors like modern telecommunications (e.g. the Internet) tend to amplify and extend the repercussions of our actions rather than dampening them. We have also been living within a "peculiar, complex and precariously balanced" social climate. Transgender activists and allies at local, state and federal levels have been trying to stir up constructive winds of change while simultaneously fighting the reactionary, destructive winds coming from various sources. It was a tricky juggling act, and with the notable exception of ENDA, it seemed to be headed in a pretty good direction.

Then Thomas Beatie fluttered his wings. While a pregnant trans man isn't exactly a first, a pregnant trans man standing in a global spotlight most certainly is.

I have no idea what his motives are. Perhaps he believes this course of action will improve circumstances for trans people in general, either by shining a spotlight on our difficulty obtaining medical care or by shaking up conventional thinking about gender. Maybe he is just fed up with the system and angry about the risk of suffering a fate like Robert Eads. Or he may just want to share an unusual and touching story about one couple's struggle to bring a child into the world. At this point, motives don't really matter.

What does matter is that Mr. Beatie has triggered a chain reaction that has already amplified far beyond his (or anyone's) ability to control or even predict. It is virtually certain that there will be consequences that he never imagined. There is room for much good to come of the situation, such as increased dialog about what gender really means to us as human beings. There is also room for much harm, ranging from increased public skepticism about the validity of gender transition to the loss of rights that were once considered "secured", and possibly even extending as far as increased hostility and violence directed towards transgender people around the globe.

I suspect that he has fanned winds in both directions, accelerating both constructive and destructive changes. We may never be able to measure the positive results, but some of the negative results are likely to be quite visible. I am praying that once the storm has passed and the dust has settled, there won't be very many broken butterfly bodies lying on the ground.

Sorry, Susan - must have you confused with someone of the same name and a similar writing style.

"Maybe he is just fed up with the system and angry about the risk of suffering a fate like Robert Eads."

It's possible. But I would think that the brouhaha this generates will make (especially) OB/GYN providers more hesitant to treat FTMs, rather than more open to it.

Doctors who are already quietly treating transpeople might be frightened by additional scrutiny. I live in a small rural community, and many of the tranpeople in this area are treated by family medicine physicians in a local practice. Actually, it's a surprisingly positive experience given our location. It would be ashame if that were to change.

Quite a few years ago I read of a lab experiment in which scientists implanted monkey embryos onto the abdominal wall of a male monkey, then administered female hormones to see how close to term the monkey embryos could grow. It turns out that, although the embryos were terminated in this study because of lack of funding, the scientists grew the monkey embryos to the point that they were fairly certain that they could be surgically removed and gestated into infancy inside an incubator.

Although the man in question in this case is transgendered, this is not a controversy that has to involve transgenderism --- except in the sense that it is a male organism performing a biologically female function.

Personally, I think the fallout of this story will be (1) confusing to many, and (2) thereafter, social attitudes may change in both good and bad ways. As usual, those with open minds will learn something and the reactionaries will dig in their heals. Remember, though, that many will ignore this story, or mentally "lay it aside", simply because it is too difficult to understand fully. That is my theory about why the media tends to ignore these stories --- they are too difficult to report at a high quality level of understanding, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Julia DeGrace | March 28, 2008 12:46 PM

I got a warm feeling when I saw Mr. Beatie's pregnant picture a few weeks ago. I am happy for him. I know transmen and transwomen, including myself, who had children before their transition. We had the right and we got our chance to be biological parents. How can anyone justify denying Mr. Beatie that same right and same chance to be a biological parent. And on what grounds? Certainly not because he may have been more fortunate than we, by perhaps having transitioned earlier in his life experiences than we did. Certainly not because he did not get pregnant from having heterosexual intercourse with another man.

As transgender people in support of our own gender expression, we contend that gender is not a binary concept, not simply black or white. We explain that gender is a continuem. Somewhere along that continuem each person fits with their unique expression of how they interpret their own gender.

Mr. Beatie expresses his gender in his own way. IT IS HIS RIGHT. To deny him that right is to deny our validation for our very own existance as transgender people.

Oh, and less we forget. It is not necessary to turn a penis into a vagina to be a valid transwoman or to create a penis out of skin grafts from arms and legs to be a valid transman. Gender is not our reproductive organs.

If there is fallout to contend with from the media coverage of this pregnancy, we'll just have to deal with it. On the one hand it gives us a great opportunity to talk to people who would otherwise never have brought the subject up. We just have to be clear in our explaination of the three factors that make up human sexuality; gender identity, sexual orientation and reproductive sexual organs; their relationships and their differences.

If we were not dealing with this in our immediate future, we'd be dealing with all the other same old attacks we face. At least this is a fresh new one for most of us.

Turning now to the Texas medical insurance situation. Yes, do have your friend contact Phyllis Frye if she cannot talk some sense into her thick-headed HR person. I'm a transwoman in San Antonio, still married to the woman I married when I was "what I like to think of as -pretending to be" a man.

My employer understood that my marriage remains valid no matter what I may have done to alter my body.

Of the two insurance companies I can choose from, both will cover my wife - no problem.

But getting insurance for the trans person is another matter. The companies have different opinions about coverage for me. One had no problem at all with full coverage for both my male needs such as my prostate, and my female needs such as mamograms and well-woman exams. It was like they already had a special form to fill out because they have dealt with it so many times before. The other company reacted quite differently. They sent me a "coded" response to my request for coverage. "We feel that our company could not be as flexible with your insurance needs as your current provider". Nuff said. I got the message. Take my business somewhere else.

"Men don't want to become pregnant, PERIOD"???

You know this exactly how, Susan? I presume that you're not a man yourself anymore, that you haven't taken any formal survey of men in general, and that this is just your own "ipse dixit," as we lawyers like to say when people make pronouncements based on nothing more than their own opinions.

You're missing the point. He didn't "want to become pregnant" per se; he and his wife wanted to be parents. And she couldn't bear a child herself, so this was their only option for biological parenthood. A desire that isn't gendered in any way; it's a human desire. (And who knows; perhaps they couldn't afford the procedure of impregnating a surrogate mother with an embryo created through IVF, with his eggs or otherwise -- or didn't want to go that route for other reasons, none of which would be any of our business.)

I have no doubt that there are many, many men, who aren't transgendered at all, who would be willing to bear a child for their wives if it were possible, and their wives were unable to. Doing so wouldn't make them female, any more than a transitioned, legally female trans woman (post-op or otherwise) is rendered "male" by becoming a biological father through the use of sperm banked before transition. Or is that against your imaginary rules for appropriately-gendered behavior for "real transsexuals" as well? (Keep that term for yourself if you like; I never wanted to be a "transsexual" when I grew up -- I wanted to be a woman, and that's what I am, now as much as when I have my final genital surgery next year, and that's something you have no standing to comment on.)

As for all the consequences people are worried about, I think there's a bit of Chicken Little behavior going on. The sky isn't falling. I see this story as a one-week or one-month wonder, something "bizarre" to feed the insatiable maw of the media for a little while. A year or two from now, I suspect that it won't be in the public consciousness at all, and that the tangible adverse consequences (if any) will be minimal.

Donna L.

The medical community's response to this man's situation was completely insensitive. Unfortunately, as a member of this community (Drexel College of Medicine 2010! Whoo!), I can't say that I'm surprised. Medicine has traditionally been just that: traditional. Especially amongst the older generation of physicians, there's a certain amount of "set in my ways" and conservatism in general. The physicians in this news story who refused Mr. Beatie care, while *highly* insensitive in the manner in which they handled it, were within their rights. Doctors are human beings with beliefs and personal morals, after all, and no human being should be forced to do things he or she feels is wrong or that goes against their beliefs.

I say this not to excuse the actions of these physicians in the slightest. I personally believe their religious/moral attitudes that caused them to refuse care in the first place are wrong. The fact that he was refused care at all, however, is a symptom of the larger problem with the medical community, and indeed society at large: the blight of bigotry, fear, and hate. However slowly societal attitudes may change, I come offering hope to anyone who's a member of what’s been labeled an "abnormal," "immoral," or "unnatural" population that the attitudes of intolerance displayed by the physicians in this article *are* changing within the medical profession. While there's no accounting for personal biases or prejudices upon matriculation to medical school, the curriculum of modern medical education is constantly turning more and more towards one that recognizes and embraces the issues faced by the GLBTI community. Tolerance, non-judgment, and a putting aside of personal prejudices for the service of the patient are the new paradigms taught to America's future doctors. Indeed, the majority of the tenured faculty at my school (including the Associate Dean) are openly gay or lesbian. Slowly but surely, one doctor or medical student at a time, the medical community is getting there.

I know my words may ring idealistic and hollow to anyone from any community that’s been discriminated against based on race, gender, creed, or sexual orientation. I’m sure Mr. Beatie or Mr. Eads would agree with you. Their stories are tragically the face of what the public sees when it comes to Medicine’s attitude towards the GLBTI community. Despite these horrible stories detailing how medicine has failed the people it’s supposed to serve, what I see every day is a class of young doctors-to-be who are being trained in a new way of practicing our profession. I’m absolutely not under the delusion that Mr. Beatie will be the last transgendered individual to be treated in this manner by a doctor, but I certainly do hope that there won’t be many more men or women in his situation. At the very least, this horrible history of discrimination ends with me and many of my classmates.

Jess, I completely agree with you when you say “hideous,” but it saddens me to my core every day that word is able to be applied to one of my colleagues. While I can't say that I think the day will come when a man in Mr. Beatie's shoes will be considered "normal" by either the medical community or society is right around the corner, I remain confident that the day when any GLBTI patient is "just another patient" *is* coming. We clinicians are only human (despite what some of us may believe *cough*surgeons*cough* ;) ), and just like any other human we can be petty and insensitive. However, no matter how bigoted the individual may be, the one thing anyone who goes into medicine has in spades is compassion and love for his or her fellow man. We *will* change. As the renowned physician George Washington Corner said, "The medical student joins the company of those who have laid aside the deepest fears and prejudices of mankind. The student of anatomy is one of that profession whose history is an endless record of hard-won progress from the darkness towards light."

...And that was in 1930.

I read this when Donna first put it here and now after many people have commented. The Butterfly Effect" was an interesting thing to bring up. People think men shouldn't get pregnant. Others think that men don't want to get pregnent, all of which seem to be wonderful lines of reasoning, if this was the 19 Century. Then Kat brought up the possible legal rmification of this, which has a lot of merit, but also maybe at the far end of the "Doom and Gloom" spectrum.

It is interesting to see how something like this tends to tax our "beyond binary" thinking to a point where people feel if has to be one way or the other, but can't be in between. I ask, "Why not?" Yes, this can lead to legal problems, but it may not. Other thing my cause us more problems that will blindside us in the future. We at least see this coming. Let's put a positive face on it . . . to the public.

Let's see how this plays out. Kat gave us the heads up on what the legal problems might be. We already know how the religious bigots are going to react. Our job as activists, those of us who are, is to anticapate the next move. Chess. In the trans community, we ALWAYS protect the King (and the Queen.) The King is pregnant. Let's protect him and keep our decension here, on this blog.

While I don't think this should have any media at all, it has happened. Why would this hit the news anymore than a MtoF who sired her children with a lesbian partner. He had female anatomy and could do this for their family. I'm pretty sure other males out there who have been it the same situation. This is not new. I don't think it was very wise of the Advocate to print that story.

Hi,

What I was going to initially post was summed up most eloquently by Julia and Donna.

I'd add that Susan's somewhat shrill assertion that no "real" transman would want to be pregnant (borrowing the religious right's rhetoric, that "real" men and women are straight and gender-norm conforming) is a sad example of how rigid our peers can be in their (usually new-found) zeal and over-compensation... just like a born-again convert's religious mania.

It amazes me what lengths some people go to in order to seek validation - no matter who suffers. Rife in the Trans community is the "I'm 'real', you're not" syndrome. Intersex folk distance themselves from us and claim social acceptability because they have a provable medical condition, and imply TS are simply perverse. Transitioned TS look down at TGs and part-timers as 'not real'. Certain post-op women here in Australia, not only looked down on pre- or non-op TS women as 'not real women' but went so far as to actually support the banning of TS women (either pre-op or without female ID) from women's refuges. Insecure people validate themselves by kicking someone else. (I just can't wait for the W.O.M.A.N. network's helpful comments on this case.)

Now, wouldn't you think one who surely knows about this phenomenon, being trans and all, realises what Thomas faces from even his own community and recognise that this is but one of the sacrifices he must make in order to bring their child into the world? It makes it all the harder.
No-one suggested he'd LIKE the hormonal upheaval and social consequences, the extremely overt femaleness of pregnancy, but he made the choice to take them on to carry a child to term anyway... oh wait, does that make him a "real man?"

When did the right of an individual to have control over their own body, and how to determine (let alone express) their own gender, cease to apply? Aren't we all fighting for the right
to use own our bodies as we like, with and for those we love?

Now about this whole "you'll bring the sky down on us" thing.

Every time there is a push for positive change by highlighting inequality, there is always a risk that our enemies will use the event to entrench discrimination or curtail freedom even further.

But saying that is our fault is like blaming a rape victim for 'asking for it'.

We will deserve what we get from get trying to be invisible - nothing.

What *is* our own fault, is failure because do not support our peers and show some solidarity. We have no-one else to blame for our infighting and finger-pointing, putting others down, or denying their choices. Pandering to conservative values. Denying our brother's and sister's rights to further our own, and sucking up to the bigots.

I applaud Thomas's family for exploding the myth of family as defined by the American Family Association and their ilk, and taking back the term to include us all.

We need to take every opportunity to show that humans are diverse and that all deserve equal treatment in law, rights, medical treatment, right across the board. Difference is no excuse for exclusion.

Nobody should be just swept under the rug.

For the record, Zac, I am of the view that any doctors (and chemists, surgeons etc) who wish to hold the caveat that they perform their services only for those they deem worthy, should like any business be subject to the rule of law, and either perform their service equally and equitably to all, or have their shingle taken down.

Likewise, welfare agencies that want to be picky about their clients on faith grounds, should never be granted public funds.

Regards, Grace Abrams.


Look, people. The problem that I see here is that "Mr" Beatie is not a man...SHE is still a woman. A woman who wanted the best of both genders. And I am SO sick of people with well-defined morals being slammed by so-called "open-minded", politically-correct invertebrates who just want "acceptance". Sorry, but where is the acceptance for those who find this sick? It IS unnatural. It IS against what millions of people believe. Why can't these liberal people pleasers accept that and quit accusing every human alive that disagrees with this as hate-mongering judgementals? In a way, these people who "just want everyone to get along" are fostering a hate of their own, only they can get away with it because being around religious, God-fearing people of any religion cramps their style and that .000000000001% of the population that may apply to the issue (in this instance: a grand total of 1 (one) pregnant women with beards)... and we can't hurt anyone's feelings, now can we?

Morals and judgements are a necessary part of order. They hold people to standard of social etiquette. If we let people like the author of this blog continue in their quest for moral decay, who knows, even criminals like rapists will be accepted. After all, they can't help that they are horny/power-hungry animals. If that's what makes them happy, we should support it blindly.

And everyone deserves happiness, right?

Sarah and others,

In defense of Beatie and Donna Rose... Two different issues, but each holds the same right to live and express freely their desires and beliefs.

First, the Beatie couple are doing what they can to build their relationship and family. So long as they do so with care and parental supervision in a manner supporting the welfare of the child and each other they commit no crime. What the world may think is not relevant, their lives are between each other and God. How this has been handled by the media and others is I think fraud and seamy journalism, driven by gay agenda and cash. It is doing harm to the Trans-community. Had it been related in a different color and shape the public would have accepted and related to the event in a more loving and empathetic way. However, it has become a circus and in the wave of public perception it is that of a freak show. I think it was contrived and part of the continued trashing process promoted by the militant gay forces.

That leads to Donna Rose, this blog, and her active involvement in the face of Trans-advocacy and improving our lot. She has a good heart and has worked hard to live a life openly as a Transsexual, responsible citizen, and supporter of those who like her who come to the cross roads of transitioning. She has done this at personal cost to herself, and frankly to her relationships and best interest. She has paid a terrible price, that most others who have not endured. If anything I would say she has bought into a GLBt movement that is being manipulated by interests which are not trans accepting, or supportive of the long term welfare of those who transition. The divisiveness among ourselves - the Transgender and our obvious conflicting needs, the social erosion of Transsexual protections, are example of that atmosphere. Yet, I would never question Donna's veracity, her tenacity to be out front taking hits for our welfare, and a personal concern and care for individuals. Yes, she has reached some level of Trans-celebrity status, but that is a fleeting thing. She is genuine and trustworthy where others are a question. No doubt, she may have values that others do not entertain, certainly not often in alignment with mine. In fact, Donna would be the first one to tell you that her and I are not on the same page. I could quote that!

Regardless, I would hope that the Beatie family get past the public circus and show all of us how loving and healthy a family can be. And I would also hope that Donna continue to fire on all cylinders moving past the embedded GLBt political fakery and stand out as an independent reformer. And most of all I would hope that all can express their views, receive comments and questions, and learn and grow.