04 April, 2008

Man has baby

Thomas Beatie, an American man, is pregnant. Not pregnant in that really annoying way that men are when their partners are pregnant, - really, boys, 'we' are not pregnant. 'We' are having a baby but you are not carrying a foetus, you don't have your body taken over by a little alien who kicks you and keeps you awake, you aren't going to get piles and you are not going to push something the size of a watermelon out of something that's usually the size of a grapefruit so please FUCK OFF with saying 'we' - this man actually has a foetus in his uterus. Yes, his uterus.

Whilst legally registered as a man, Thomas started out in life as Tracy Lagondino, a female. In his life as Tracy he was a prominent gay rights activist who felt as though he'd been born into the wrong sex. His gender reassignment surgery was essentially a bilateral mastectomy with hormone treatment to stop his periods. He didn't do anything 'downstairs', he tells Oprah, because he wanted to have a child someday. He tells Oprah that it's his 'right' to have children. No, it isn't. No one has the right to have children. Thomas, you chose to become a man and quite frankly as far as I can tell that should have meant out with the old babymaking equipment and goodbye to the vagina, another rather essential component for those of us XX chromosome types.

As a woman, I feel a little bit insulted by this whole business but I can't put my finger on the reason for it. I suppose I see my uterus as the thing that defines me as female. Long hair, make up and pierced ears don't separate the genders these days, and I've seen some manboobs out there that would rival mine. No, what really separates the boys from the girls is the womb. Many women report feeling less feminine post hysterectomy. On the surface this makes less sense than say a woman who'd undergone a mastectomy but it makes perfect sense to me. Perhaps it goes back to the start of menstruation and being told 'you're a woman now'. I can't reconcile Thomas Beatie leaving 'Tracy' behind but keeping hold of 'her' uterus just in case it would come in handy at a later date. Why didn't he keep his breasts as well? He wanted a baby but breastfeeding was just a bit too girly?

Thomas Beatie isn't actually the first 'man' to carry a baby but he's certainly the first one to broadcast it on the Oprah show. One has to wonder if this in itself isn't the most damaging thing to come out of this need to draw the worlds attention to the latest freak show, posing for pictures with his sticky out belly complete with bearded face. Apparently his wife has had a hysterctomy and cannot have any more children. Not to worry, Thomas has a womb hanging around from a previous lifetime. She inseminated her husband with a device they purchased from a vet.

Thomas, I thought about making you the idiot of the week but you're not. You're just a selfish, attention seeker who wants to have his cake and eat it too. You kept the very essence of what made you female yet you see yourself as a male. I'm insulted by you and your bloody uterus. You, mate, are taking the piss out of the whole gender reassignment community. Make your mind up, male or female. I'm happy for you either way but don't sit on the fence. You'll get splinters in your arse.



Jacki said...

I have really mixed feelings about this whole story. On one hand, I am pleased to see the media being genuinely respectful of someone who has undergone gender reassignment (there hasn't been the snickering about he/she confusion etc that this topic would once have attracted). On the other hand - I too don't agree with the perception of having children as a "right", and I don't like all the media tarting going on. I also have been rolling my eyes about the hyping of this as a man who is pregnant. By gestating a baby in a naturally occurring uterus - really this is about legal/sociological identity rather than biological. Biologically, it is a pretty unremarkable pregnancy I would think.

SSS said...

I have mixed feelings too. And I agree, biologically it's straightforward, there's a uterus and a foetus in it, there's even a vagina for the baby to make its entrance to the world. I find the hype offensive and I supppose I just don't like the fact that he identified as a man but kept his womb 'just in case'.

Foodycat said...

I'm confused by transgender issues. I suppose I can't imagine feeling alienated from something as central to me as being female.

mscrankypants said...

It's a big tough issue when the "Oh, Oprah's taken on this one" curiosity factor has been stripped away.

I can't pretend to have an inkling of *needing* to be a different gender, but I'd prefer to see a woman interviewed who had full gender reassignment surgery and gave up the right to bear children. I think that's a greater decision (and sacrifice) than choosing to keep a benefit of once being female.

Jacki said...

I did a subject at uni where a person who had undergone gender reassignment lectured and answered questions. It was very interesting (and insulting at the same time for her as it was a psychopathology course). She talked about having the extensive surgery to cosmetically alter the genitalia (remove penis, create vagina etc) and how she felt that the penis needed to go and was not really a proper part of her. The surgery and maintenance was a huge committment and at the same time she also gave up her ability to orgasm (I think the surgery is a little better these days at keeping the relevant nerves etc).

SSS said...

Interesting, Jacki. I know we can only have an outside window into feeling that you've been born into the wrong sex but the logical (and that's probably not helpful) side of me thinks that if you want to change sex you get rid of the whole kit. And as I said, I don't believe that anyone has a right to have a child.