I would personally love to have a baby, but there are concerns beyond just simply wanting to have a child. For one thing, I'm concerned about what the effects of incubating a baby in eggs that have been pickling in testosterone would be. Medical issues aside, however, I don't think that wanting to have a child is an intrinsically female thing. I think more men would choose to have babies if it were genetically possible. In many cases it has been women that have had the strongest reaction to the Pregnant Man story. For some it is a mental misunderstanding of the difference between Gender Identity and Sex making some wonder why he would transition if he wanted to have a baby. I can explain this away with some clarity, but I can't explain away the feelings and resentments that seem to linger.
I do have major issues that go much deeper and are much more complicated than simple medical concerns. Thomas Beatie was all over the news. GLBT groups, many at a loss for how to respond, issued statements criticising the sensationalization in the media, but it can't be ignored that Beatie was the one that put his story out there. Although seemingly mild mannered and "shy," this level of attention can be very addictive. He doesn't seem to have considered the needs of the greater community nor is he conscious of the effect his actions have with regards to social and legal matters. I struggle because I don't want to say that if you don't fit the mainstream queer you should shut up. The mainstream becomes a bigger and bigger stream everyday and a stream I didn't fit in not too long ago.
However, I think it is every queer persons responsibility to manage their visibility responsibly and be conscious of the greater community. I personally got really nervous when he showed up on the cover of the Philly Weekly as I'm waiting for my court date for my legal name and gender change. The Advocate--the first to break the Beatie story--also offered an article on it's potential aftermath for trans advocates. Here's an excerpt, but check out the rest of the article here.
"Some trans activists also note that this story has a high “ick” factor for the general population. The first reactions [author Jamison] Green read online were discouraging. “They wrote ‘disgusting’ or asked, ‘How can someone do that to themselves and think he is a man?’ and worse,” he recalls. “I worry that for the uneducated and less accepting, this brings back the whole ‘freak’ label to transgender people.” When she saw the teaser for the Oprah show, alarm bells went off for Cathy Renna, managing partner of Renna Communications, a New York City–based firm that develops communications strategies for LGBT organizations. “My sense is that this story has all the hallmarks of one that could be easily sensationalized—one that could easily set back some of the improvements that have been made by transgender people,” she says. “Beatie’s article opened the Pandora’s box.”
Think about what happened in 2003 after the Massachusetts supreme judicial court ruled that the state had to allow marriage as an option for gay couples. Other state governments panicked. Twenty-three states amended their constitutions to limit marriage to one man and one woman, joining three that had done so earlier. Some states, such as Michigan, even went further—using their amendment to justify denying health benefits to the gay partners of state employees.
“Generally, with the public and mainstream media we’re still doing Trans 101,” says Renna. “I worry this kind of story will create a whole new level of regulation. Anti-trans groups will use this as ammunition to influence politics to make laws that won’t let trans people make decisions about their own body. I so hope I’m wrong.”
That’s not just negative thinking. In Japan it’s illegal to transition if you’ve already given birth or fathered a child. So far no such law exists in this country, although three states—Idaho, Ohio, and Tennessee—will not allow their transgender citizens to legally change their gender on birth certificates."It was his appearance on Oprah that partially got me jammed up in Michigan with the Department of Vital Records pointing to his story as a reason I could not change my birth certificate. Still, my court date is probably a couple months away and if Oprah couldn't keep him in the spotlight I doubt PW will. The story already seems to have waned.
But even in its waning, the existence of more and more pregnant men can't be ignored and I know it's an issue many transmen struggle with. I asked one friend about his issues. "I don't know. I guess because it's sooo not something I would want to do and I consider being pregnant very female, in fact. [Also,}] I guess because I've struggled so long to be "accepted" as a "real live boy" that [FTM's getting pregnant] just make it harder for me with the rest of society because automatically people then assume I'm the same as so and so....I don't know. It's not a feeling/thought process I'm particularly proud of but...there it is."