At 15 weeks, 4 days pregnant with twins, Molly is really starting to show – it is so cute! As the weeks pass on, we’re getting closer to when Molly should be able to feel our babies move – they say the pregnant person can start to feel them move around 16-22 weeks, a little bit later someone else can feel them move from the outside. I have a classmate who is pregnant with a singleton (6-6.5 months I think), and the other day she was talking about what it feels like to feel her baby move. I was fascinated at how she described it (“like someone punching you, but from the inside”), and I suddenly experienced a totally bizarre feeling of loss…in that I will never be able to feel that.
When I was a kid, I never ever wanted to carry a child, though I always knew I wanted to raise children. And I think that’s somewhat common for children to say they don’t want to be pregnant, but this feeling carried over into my teenage years; actually, when I came out as liking women (and thus others saw me as a lesbian, though I never identified specifically as such because I didn’t like that the label “lesbian” was applied only to women…and I didn’t exactly feel like one of those), I was relieved because I felt like I then had an excuse not to carry a child – my wife would do it (if she wanted to). This was a great response to people who just couldn’t understand why a young woman (as they saw me) would be so adamant about not wanting to carry a child.
There’s a difference among knowing I could have carried our child(ren), a want to carry a child, and if I would carry our children. I think my weird feeling of mourning the loss of my ability to feel a child moving inside me was because I know, at one point in my life, I could have had that experience. This is as opposed to a man-assigned-male-at-birth*, who never even had the opportunity to have this experience; so while he may wonder what it would be like to carry a child, he wouldn’t have the same feeling of loss I had when listening to my classmate talk about what it felt to feel her baby kick. I’m also aware that perhaps for me it’s less of a feeling of mourning this ability and more of a reality check that I am a man of transsexual experience, as opposed to a man-assigned-male-at-birth. At the same time, I can totally understand the idea that our bodies can simply be a vessel for procreating and that just because someone is pregnant, that doesn’t mean they have to identify as a woman (take Thomas Beatie as an example, who did a good job of advocating that he is a man despite being pregnant). While I don’t want to carry a child, I think I am now secure enough in my transition and gender and sexual identities that I actually would consider carrying a child if it were necessary and the only way in which Molly and I could have/raise children.
Most of this discussion is a mute point, because even if I hadn’t had a hysterectomy, I wouldn’t carry a child after having been on testosterone. This is a personal choice and belief that I have, because we know neither the long term effects nor the subcellular effects of cross-sex hormone use, and we certainly don’t know the effects on a potential fetus. There will have to be a dramatic shift in the basic human rights campaigns for there to be enough funding for this type of research. While Thomas Beatie did a good job of maintaining he is a pregnant man (though not the first as he claims!), don’t get me started on my ethical stance on his choice to become pregnant after having been on testosterone – that’s fodder for another post.
*men-assigned-male-at-birth – I use this term in an attempt to describe those who are masculine-presenting and who were given the “male” sex designation at birth (which typically corresponds to the general word “men” in the English language use) and in an attempt to avoid “othering” trans* people. No offense to trans* people or otherwise is intended.