27 March 2008

Pregnant man WHAT?

I just read about the transexual man who is pregnant and I find the whole thing profoundly troubling.

This is the story, as far as I understood it: he was born a woman and underwent hormone therapy and a double mastectomy but kept his female reproductive organs. He is legally male. I assume he had a penis reconstruction (construction?) as well but I am assuming this only because he got married to a woman, and this is where it becomes confusing to me bcs if she married a man I would be inclined to think she is not a lesbian and would therefore require a penis in her partner but, then again, not all women are fond of penises and not all women who aren't fond of penises are lesbians so maybe he doesn't have one after all. So let's say the penis bit is undecided and, as far as this discussion goes, it isn't relevant anyway. [It is doing me in a bit, though - the penis bit, I mean, what's the point of being with a man with no penis...? Ignore this personal perplexity of mine.]

After 10 years of marriage they wanted biological children - semi-biological children is actually more accurate- and his wife couldn't conceive bcs she had a hysterectomy due to severe endometriosis. So her gene pool was unavailable and they decided they'd use his, and he, this legally male person, got pregnant using donor sperm and his own womb - and I cannot begin to tell you how much this last sentence sounds wrong to me. To top it all, their families didn't even know he was a transexual, can you imagine? "By the way, I married your daughter as a man but was born female and incidentally, I am carrying our child by some other man's sperm", this conversation starter bodes well especially since it didn't occur, as far as I can tell the family will have read of it bfr having been told which really, is exactly how I personally would like to have this sort of information reach me, via nation-wide newspapers, stated names + locations and all.

We then have a woman and her husband who used to be a woman but is now a man and is pregnant with their child. It's unfathomable. I'm sorry, some males do get pregnant but they're never human are they so a pregnant man, regardless of legal status, is actually a woman, right? Men do not get pregnant, ever, and this is not even debatable, it is still very much a biological fact.

Now, I think everyone is entitled to have the family they dream of regardless of how it comes to be: the classical way, through IF treatments, adoption, surrogate mothers, what have you. And I have no problem with gays/lesbians/transgender/single people/*insert minority here* becoming parents provided they indeed are fit to be parents. [Nothing I can do about that, of course, but a lot less people would suffer if a significant portion of the population at large were untreatably infertile and that usually has nothing to do with sexual orientation.] It is also true that the world is changing and it is no longer necessarily a source of major grief to have two mummies or two daddies, or to have been born to donor eggs or to have been adopted as long as there is transparency and the children know, as is their right, where they came from (to keep it a secret is not only obscene but almost criminal bcs that way traumatic discoveries lie).

But a man is a man, and a woman is a woman, and those who feel they were born to wrong bodies in the absence of biological errors - and I no longer believe the cause is mostly genetic bcs of homozygotic twins - have to undergo a long and painful process of change. To have a man be pregnant, in my mind, immediately invalidates his masculinity simply because MEN DO NOT BECOME PREGNANT, full stop. And as much as I respect your freedom to choose your family's path I will judge you, I will bloody well condemn you if you are enamoured of your own needs to such a degree that your child will pay an unimaginable price for your decision. And how can a child born to a man who says he is carrying the child as both the father and the husband of his wife who will be the mother not be profoundly traumatised? We are not structered that way as a species, mummies are mummies and daddies are daddies and everything else happens in other species only. And it may very well be that this will have become more acceptable in a few years or so but I doubt it,
we can't really circumnvent biology at this very basic level. Anatomically-modern man is terribly young, abt 35.000 years or so I think, and, again, far more ruled by biology than most people are comfortable with. Mentality shifts are, by definition, long-duration processes but for all our flexibility of thought we are wired quite rigidly as a species and rightly so, it ensures perpetuation. My heart breaks for those children (and their parents) who are born without a definite gender, the doctors advise the parents to wait and try to be as gender-neutral as possible till it is possible to see what sex the child really is - but how does that work in real life? It doesn't, the child is born and everyone wants to know is it a boy or a girl, in practical terms how do you NOT choose, how do you preserve neutrality for years, what do you answer when the child starts talking and asks what it is? And these children, shocker, for the most part grow up to be biologically-maladjusted adults and never feel they fit anywhere bcs they are in the wrong body, they say - and who knows if the same wouldn't have happened regardless of parental choice.

But these are rare cases, these children are born with both or a degree of both reproductive and genital tracts, this is a traumatic experience that cannot be avoided regardless of how much everyone involved tries. What about the ones who will unavoidably be fucked up by deliberate parental choice, the ones who do not stand a chance whatsoever? In some decades maybe we will have seen enough of these fathers who use their womb to give birth and mothers who give their sperm for conception that it will be somewhat closer to the norm but what price will all these children have to pay for being the guinea pigs of reproductive adaptation?

I think this is just another chapter added to the infamous Egyptian manual that states that all adoptions are atraumatic and the birth mothers will forever be grateful that this burden was removed from their lives, poof!, and they never have regrets or think of the child and if you think abt it it's like said child was hatched really; no child ever suffers upon unexpectedly finding out that a stranger contributed with the sperm that created half of their gene pool; no child ever suffers upon
unexpectedly finding out that even though mummy gave birth she used someone else's eggs; no child ever suffers upon unexpectedly finding out that even though they have daddy's eyes and mummy's mouth some other lady carried them for 40 weeks; God forbid that they find out they were created in a petri dish bcs that is so very shameful, shhh, we don't talk abt such things in our family; and, personal fave, ALL retarded children are angels and simply incapable of bad thoughts and actions (this one said to me recently in all seriousness so I must have dreamt those times when my mum's pupils made rather lewd remarks and suggestions to me or tried to grope me).

Basically, parents have the right to hide what they choose and do as they please at all times and this may actually be true legally but sod legal,
it is appallingly selfish and therefore very morally wrong.

14 furballs:

QuietusLeo said...

I have to agree with you. This horrible story gives new meaning to "narcissism".

viscondantropólogessa said...

Wow, I hadn't heard about this from the depths of my cave. I can't wait to use it the next time I teach gender to beginning anthropology students...

Lioness said...

Quietusleo, the thing that is bothering me the most is that he/she/it/whothebloodyhellknows is freely talking to the media. God, such a sensitive subject and you're happily yapping away, exposing your family? Something's very wrong.

Viscondthingy, what will you be saying? This one I must hear!

orodemniades said...

fathers who use their womb to give birth and mothers who give their sperm

Oy. In principle I don't have a problem with this (but I read a lot of science fiction, so the idea isn't unfamiliar), but practically speaking, holy moly. I, too, feel that the child is going to suffer - mostly because their birth parent has decided to go public. I suspect that if he or she were to be born in the right community (that is to say, as non-judgmental as it can be, and I don't mean the LGBT community, either)(by which I mean a community) they could grow up relatively unscathed...right?

Lioness said...

Oro, I don't know... I once saw a documentary abt a transgender couple, they met in the wrong bodies and decided to have a child bfr the change so the then-she gave birth bfr changing sexes. This is a situation that no doubt requires careful monitoring of the child's adjustement and therapy to make sure all is going well but this is the very core of this matter for me, the then-she was a SHE when she gave birth, and he always said he had given birth as a woman. The roles may have been switched afterwards but the man was the man and the woman was the woman when the child was conceived and born, see my point? In this case we have a man saying HE is pregnant and HE is the father of the child he is carrying. It is a bit too much like Koontz' The Bad Place. Even in the right setting at first - and what would be the right community for this? - how long can you keep the child protected? How do you explain to a little thing that Dad gave birth in a way that will allow the child to process it when this is not the way we, as a species, reproduce and so many people will make the child pay for a) being what they consider a freak and b) having been born to what they consider a freak? And, again, these parents don't seem to have the child's best interest at heart, she - the pregnant father to be - see how wrong? - is milking this in a way that is unethical and worrisome. Children are mocked for having big ears, this is... I don't know. It is happening already, which means it will only happen more and more in the future and I suppose someone had to be the first to refuse to sit in the back of the reproductive bus, as it were, and as I said it may one day approach the norm but these are not adults, these are children who are given no choice and knowing our species' penchant for cruelty and fear of the abnormal I find it heartbreaking for this child and the ones to come.

M said...

Ah, let them have the baby.

You can't really use the "the kid will get teased!" argument because, as you rightfully note, kids are teased about everything down to the size of their ears. By this argument, no one should be allowed to reproduce because their kids will get teased.

In-vitro fertilization is also not the way we, as a species, reproduce, yet I know of children of (minor) celebrity parents who have announced to the world that they were conceived through in-vitro. So I don't think the "it's not natural!" argument is valid either.

Additionally, there may be more to the parent's publicity-seeking than suspected at first blush. The original article here is filled with remarks from the father about how he was treated poorly by doctor after doctor who either belittled or rejected his gender identity. It's possible that he chose to go public in order to bring this issue to light and blaze a trail for the future transgender parents -- few though they will undoubtedly be -- who find themselves in the same position.

Also, it could all be a hoax.

JoeinVegas said...

Didn't sound like a hoax from all the stories, but who can tell.
I was sympathetic, but after reading the Lioness' discussion now have to agree with her, if this was a person trying with all might to be a man, having surgery and taking hormones and legally becoming a man, it is rather a bit of a lie to then say 'well, OK to have children'.

Lioness said...

M., obviously, they'll have the baby. And what I meant was, having big ears is enough to be subjected to great cruelty and that's not even outside the norm, imagine what this child will be up against. And I never said it wasn't natural, I was very careful not to, it's not it not being natural that bothers me, as you read I explicitely said do not care if people become parents through IVF, but this gos further than that in a way not easily explanaible to a child, this goes against everything we are as a species, we have fixed sexes, we have rigid sexual boundaries, you are either one or the other, in some cases you may be both but tehre is a name for that too, men do not become pregnant.

Joe, it's not that it's a lie, it's that - to have a father who gave birth to you... God.

M said...

in that case I will agree to disagree, bc it seems the venn diagram of our opinions on sexual boundaries is two circles that do not intersect.

Lioness said...

Agreed. But can you imagine our conversation over that cuppa later in the year? I hope you're not a violent man!

M said...

pfft. you're the one whose blog pseudonym is a savage predator. I'm just a normal guy who looks like Humphrey Bogart.

Lioness said...

Oooh, Bogey! Cool one. But lionesses are very good hunters actually, not savage. They inflict pain only when necessary - just like me!

Savtadotty said...

I have to agree with M on this one. As the mother of a lesbian mom-by-adoption, married (legally, In Vancouver, BC) to my granddaughter's bio-mom, 15 years ago I was where you are, Lioness, in my thinking, only more conservative. I was especially concerned that my grandchild would suffer, but over the seven years since her birth I have seen not only how the world has changed (in some places) but also how I myself have changed.

Biology is no longer destiny.

Lioness said...

Savtadotty, E.'s case doesn't even make me bat an eye, it never did. But the truth is if E. happened to be a man who happened to be pregnant, well, then it would. I was actually surprised by how strongly I reacted to this story.