Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pregnant "man"

I saw this article in the Telegraph and thought, "What an interesting scenario!"
The article is about a woman who underwent hormone therapy and breast reduction to become a male. He's lived as a man for several years and is married to a woman. His wife had severe endometriosis, which resulted in a hysterectomy and infertility. Because he still had his female sexual organs (uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries), he stopped taking hormone therapies that kept him "male" and conceived a child. The article states that he's currently 20 weeks along and due July 3, 2008.

I think it's a bit disingenuous for a news agency to report this as a "pregnant man". Technically, if the he is a genetic female, then he is a she for medical purposes. Furthermore, he has a functioning set of female sex organs. So... to say that this is a pregnant man is not quite accurate.

That aside, I really have no problem with this couple choosing to conceive, carry, and give birth. Why not? It's clear that they want children and the seem to have a stable relationship. They appear to have thought out the roles they will play in the child's life:
"I will be my daughter's father, and Nancy will be her mother. We will be a
family."

Still, there are some who see this as yet another example of the downfall of the American family.
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.
How is this going too far? This "male" is a genetic female. If this person wants to parent, then who is Hareyan to say that they shouldn't parent. What is so "morally wrong"? And, my question to Hareyan would be, "Ok. So, would you suggest an abortion?" Parenthood, no matter what the gender of the parents, is always an "experiment". There are no rules and no guarantees.
"If they wanted to have a child, they could take an infant from an orphanage.
They should not be doing this."

Does anyone else see the irony here? This is a genetic female who is living as a male - they couple has been living as a heterosexual married couple in public. To me, the decision to obtain sperm from a donor and use the available uterus to gestate a child is no different than an infertile Christian couple turning to infertility treatments or retaining a surrogate. The only difference is that the surrogate in question is living, socially, as a man. Furthermore, since - genetically - this is lesbian couple, I find it hard to believe that Hareyan would've given his "blessing" on any adoption.
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".

Isn't removing eggs from an ovary; fertilizing them with ejaculated donor sperm in a petri dish; implanting them back into a uterus; and then supporting the pregnancy with man made chemicals doing the same thing (deconstructing biological reality)? Biological reality says that some people will never have a child. So, what is so different here?

*******************************************
ETA a link to Sean the Blogonauts current project.
If you want to read a history of his project, dealing with Mercy Ministries, then please go here.
Mercy Ministries is a national non profit organisation dedicated to
providing homes and care for young women suffering the effects of eating
disorders, self harm, abuse, depression, unplanned pregnancies and other
life controlling issues.

Unfortunately, it is emerging that the ministry denies proper mental and physical health care to its residents or patients. Instead, they prefer to use prayer, house arrest, and exorcism. While claiming to be a free program, it has come to Sean's attention that they really are running a for profit organization.

17 comments:

Kevin L. said...

I'm also a bit hesitant about the way the article is written; it tells the story without getting the details entirely right. And, of course, it's no surprise that the religious folk are up in arms over this - as they always are if a child isn't conceived strictly by a genetic and social male and a genetic and social female utilizing the missionary position. Sad, but not surprising.

All that aside, though, this is a neat little story. I'm very happy for the expecting parents and wish them and their child well.

Thanks for sharing :)

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Can they look after the kid financially, emotionally, have they got a solid relationship? That's about the only questions that need to be answered.

reVAMPed said...

Oh c'mon, it's all about the ~ICK!~ factor. That's the whole media hype of this story, isn't it? It's all about the definition of what's natural to those who oppose it. So what if it's different. Different is not acceptable in some crazy religious circles. Too bad to, because, at least this child is WANTED, and I'm sure will be loved just as much.

Skitter said...

My issue with this is the hormone therapy.

Fetuses are very sensitive to hormones and taking male hormone therapy before and during pregnancy would be very risky, and IMO, a very, very bad idea. I hope that such therapy was discontinued well before pregnancy, but, by the photo (with sruffy 3 day shadow) it seems it was not.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Skitter, as this was a planned pregnancy, I'm guessing that he discontinued the meds prior to the implantation of fertilized eggs. And, actually, progesteron is something your body pumps up at higher than normal, prepregnancy levels during the first few weeks of pregnancy,...so, it may not have been an issue. The five o'clock shadow *is* odd, though.
You're right. That requires an explanation. I had a few more stray hairs on my chin during pregnancy (due to the progesterone and testoseron elevation), but I never needed an electric razon.

SpaceCase said...

The original story was written by the man in question, for the Advocate.com news site. It's fairly well done, reasonably short, and less sensational than the Telegraph version.

Surprisingly, here it's not being played up much at all. The local Oregon news are being matter-of-fact; even a local conservative radio host barely mentioned it today.

skitter said...

Actually, it seems I should have RTFA'd

" 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."

That certainly reduces, but does not eliminate, concerns about the effects of male hormone therapy on a pregnant genetically female individual. The beard in the photo still seems a bit thick to me but that could be a trick of the light and your point about hormones, pregnancy and facial hair is well taken.

And while I do worry about the issues of being a kid growing up under special parental circumstances, I worry less about those circumstances than I do in general about the myriad of broken homes and other circumstances found in many "traditional" families.

On a technical note, it seems the fertilization was in uttero:
"Nancy and I eventually resorted to home insemination."

Natasha Yar-Routh said...

Speaking as a trans woman the effects for hormones on the body are permanent, stopping testosterone does not make your beard go away.

On a subject I tend to be a little touchy over, Thomas Beatie is a man, no quotes, no qualifications full stop. Yes he has female genitalia, but he is still a man. Sorry if I'm a little touchy about this but dealing with people who want to deny us our very identities tends to leave me a bit fanatical on the subject.

quench zine has a good post on theis whole thing and the various reactions to it.

Carla said...

Wow, interesting story - unique family and circumstance. I hope the best for this family and feel that it a quite beautiful thing to bring a child into a world where both parents have thought through this unique process and are going to love the child. Screw all the crazies that think it is anything but.

Seven Crows said...

A connection to what Sean is doing is the the article I have seen mentioned on a couple of sites (SkepChick first I think) about
the 11-year-old
girl who died of untreated diabetes
because her parents decided to rely on prayer rather than taking her to doctor.

In other circumstances that do not include "belief" in god and prayer all these people would be frankly looked at as abusers.

Seven Crows said...

Drat! screwed up the link to the girl with diabetes, should be:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-wi-prayerdeath,0,4240400.story

Kestin Stewart said...

First off I have to say that I've been reading your blog for almost a year now I think. I check at least once a week and sometimes daily.

I thought I'd comment to clarify about the FtM angle. Referring to him as a man is completely correct, he may not be biologically male but he is still a man.

Re: Hormones. Once you've been on testosterone and the changes take place (the major ones within six months of starting) you really can't do anything about em, even once you've stopped taking testosterone. So the 5'oclock shadow will continue on regardless. The only difference would be the speed in which it grows back, texture, thickness et cetera.

I'm a transgendered female myself but haven't yet begun hormones.

Neway, thanks for all your interesting blogs, I enjoy them heaps!

Cheers
Kestin Stewart (New Zealand, Atheist and TransDyke)

Atheist in a mini van. said...

I just want to clarify, because I'm not sure if I communicated it well: I fully agree that this man should be referred to as a man if he so choose (no matter what his DNA says). I support the decision of any transgendered person and wish that society was better at giving them the respect and support they may not be getting now. So, on that level, I have no problem with this man wanting to be thought of us as a man.

On the pregnancy level, I still believe it to be dishonest to say that this is a case of a "male pregnancy". Biologically, the parts are female. So, "he" is pregnant. I have no problem saying that. But, it's not a medical breakthrough and I think it's a disservice to transgendered communities to make this out to be some sort of freakshow (as it appears to be portrayed as). This is a famiy - short and sweet. If anything, I would've liked to have read more discussion (in the article) about this option being open to transgendered families. And, I'm still curious about the effects of long term male hormones on the eggs that were in his ovaries.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Oh yeah...and the quotations were not used to belittle his gender choice.

Infidel Rooster said...

It seems odd that "as a Christian" she wouldn't be completely supportive of this. After all, the Great Sky Fairy in its infinite wisdom, did make "him" a female to start off with and obviously capable of becoming pregnant and carrying a child. So, by the religious...er, 'logic', this is what Jeebus and his pappy intended all along.

Now, as a socially liberal atheist, I can think of quite a few things to worry about, and this doesn't make that list.

Like Sean said, are they able to care for the child emotionally and financially and do they have a solid relationship? 'Nuff said about that.

Donna said...

When you take your child to the doctor for a shot and your child begs you to save them from the pain, you don't do it because you understand the big picture. God is in charge of the big picture for this man. And, BTW, He WILL give him his arms and legs back, if not in this life, in the next.

Donna said...

Sorry, I put that on the wrong comment section.