Saturday, 15 March 2008

You Do What You Have To Do

Being a parent is an awesome responsibility. Being a parent is hard. But for those of us who are Intersexed or Transsexual, it's often becoming a parent that's hardest. Having the wrong shaped genitalia is very uncomfortable, but for those of us lucky enough to have a working reproductive system, we should consider ourselves lucky that pregnancy's not completely impossible, as it is for so many of us.

Transition usually means becoming sterile, if you aren't already. I was - my reproductive system was effectively wrecked early on in my unusual change. It had been marginal before, requiring technical intervention for pregnancy; but within a few weeks of the first symptoms showing, an exam by an endocrinologist showed my reproductive glands were dysfunctional. To be brutal, they were "soft and shrunken". My childbearing - or the equivalent - days were over.

The pillar that had sustained me all those years, since age 15, had collapsed. I never considered not transitioning after that - never even gave the idea a thought until I was actually on the operating table, when I thought it would be a really good idea to review things, just in case there was anything I'd missed. Or rather, would miss. There wasn't. Even though at that stage I had no idea just how wonderful normality would feel....

As I said, transition usually means becoming sterile. But not always.
This whole process, from trying to get pregnant to being pregnant, has been a challenge for us. The first doctor we approached was a reproductive endocrinologist. He was shocked by our situation and told me to shave my facial hair. After a $300 consultation, he reluctantly performed my initial checkups. He then required us to see the clinic’s psychologist to see if we were fit to bring a child into this world and consulted with the ethics board of his hospital. A few months and a couple thousand dollars later, he told us that he would no longer treat us, saying he and his staff felt uncomfortable working with “someone like me.”
Understandable in some ways. Reprehensible in others. Here is a couple who are willing to take "heroic measures" in every sense of the world, just to have a child. If ever anyone met the definition of "fit parents", they do.
How does it feel to be a pregnant man? Incredible. Despite the fact that my belly is growing with a new life inside me, I am stable and confident being the man that I am. In a technical sense I see myself as my own surrogate, though my gender identity as male is constant. To Nancy, I am her husband carrying our child—I am so lucky to have such a loving, supportive wife. I will be my daughter’s father, and Nancy will be her mother. We will be a family.
The details are different, but you know what? I know how he feels.


Anonymous said...

Wow! What a horrible story in some ways, but also an amazing story in it's ending! I have never heard of a transitioned brain-intersexed male carrying and delivering a child before, is this much more common than we hear about? I wish them all a happy future as a family together!!!

PS I love your blog, you've always have such interesting topics.

Zoe Brain said...

It's more common than you'd think.

But straying into the limelight can be dangerous. You have to tread a fine line between education, and putting your family at risk.

The trouble is... if no-one speaks out, if everyone is too afraid to say a simple "hey, we exist", then what kind of future will my son face? It's bad enough that his father is non-standard, but he had genital reconstruction before I did.

Thanks for the compliments Christine - keep 'em coming!