Brit news is a flutter with a story about a trans man who has decided to get pregnant. Its the first time a British trans man has made this decision and the story was picked up by red top tabloids such as The Mirror. So needless to say the coverage has been tacky and unforgiving. Yet that isn’t what this post is about, this post is about the opinions I’ve seen from within the trans community on this issue. Namely whether Hayden is a man or not for his decision.
Now, before I continue I’d like to say that more information has come to light regarding Hayden, and it appears as though either he’s lying about his history with his family or his family are lying about it. Either way, we can’t really be sure what the truth is. So for the purposes of this blog post we’re going to forget Hayden exists. We’re going to speak generally about trans men rather than specifically about one of them.
First of all let me address dysphoria. Yes a trans man who gets pregnant is likely going to experience a hecka lot of dysphoria. It’s not going to be fun for that person at all. Some people argue that doing this would invalidate them being trans and I disagree. Doing something that makes you dysphoric as heck still implies that you have dysphoria – which still implies that you’re trans as that is pretty much the whole of the diagnostic criteria.
Next up is that “only women give birth!” Trans men being men means that some men can give birth – typically speaking, pregnancy is an attribute of women. However if we actually want to get scientific about it, this is an attribute of biological sex, not gender. Biological females give birth in humans and it just so happens that trans men are biological females. So either you’re arguing that trans men aren’t biological females – which is objectively untrue – or you’re arguing that they aren’t real men.
To which I get to my next point – what is being a man? My experience with gender recognition is that its a result of biological and social factors converging upon someone else’s perception of you. So in short, you look and behave like a gender, then you are considered part of that gender. The only area where this has a hiccup is in regards to reproduction, where trans people are different from our cis counterparts. However outside of reproduction capability there is basically no difference between cis men and trans men.
Though even this isn’t 100% accurate either. Trans women have been freezing sperm before transition for decades. Its a service that is provided by the NHS in my country at every gender clinic. Any trans woman who uses this sperm and creates a child out of it is then technically “fathering” a child. Yet this doesn’t invalidate a trans woman’s claim to womanhood in any significant way. Nobody passes comment on trans women who do this – well except red top tabloids such as the Mirror.
This isn’t even to mention the fact that there are plenty of complications in cis people which make it hard or impossible for them to reproduce too. From low sperm counts to polycystic ovary syndrome. Which further greys up that idea of reproductive capability being where we drawn the line on whose a man or not. Realistically we have no grounds on which to say men can’t be men if they can’t reproduce like a biological male would – or even if they utilise the biology they have to reproduce the only way they know how.
Which brings me to the final point I’d like to make. People keep suggesting that there are better ways to have your own child, and I disagree. As a trans person outside of actually creating your own child the way your biology dictates your options are super limited. There’s adoption which isn’t easy for LGBT people to gain access to, especially for the T. This is trans women’s only option – where as trans men’s options also include surrogacy.
Surrogacy can be problematic however, because its not very easy to come by a woman willing to carry your child then not get to keep it after all her hard work. Trans people are often estranged from friends and family and have tenuous relationships with other people in society. Surrogacy really isn’t that huge of an option for trans men. A lot of surrogates are female relatives of the parents of the child, which largely rules out all of the aforementioned problems.
This makes the most available and accessible option for trans people to have their own children is to utilise their own biology. For trans men this may involve going through a lot of dysphoria for 9 more months, and for trans women this will involve jerking it into a cup – which is likely going to be dysphoric as heck too. Neither of these invalidate that the person involved experiences dysphoria and desires to transition which is literally what makes someone trans or not.
(Yes I know the featured image isn’t Hayden, but it was the only pregnant trans man I could find to fit the size properly. Sue me.)