Pregnant Man: Thomas Beatie
Why did you want to have a baby?
Nancy and I reached a point where we felt we were ready to become parents: We were financially secure, we were in a safe and healthy environment, and we loved each other madly. We believed we could provide a strong, stable home for a child, and that we could raise our baby to be a good, loving, intelligent, and compassionate person. The fact that I switched genders and became a legal male does not have anything to do with my desire to have a child. The simple answer is: My wife and I are in love and we wanted to start a family together. Anyone who is in love, or who has had a child, can certainly understand this.
Why didn’t you just use a surrogate? Or adopt?
Ultimately, using a surrogate came at too steep a price for me; it meant turning over the responsibility for carrying my child to someone else, a stranger…I don’t think anyone anywhere can begrudge me the right to carry my own child. And as for adopting? Well, I had a very real desire to pass on my own genes and to be biologically related to my child. I realize that a lot of people wish we had adopted, or even used a surrogate, but I cannot live my life based on other people’s wishes.
Why didn’t you just keep your pregnancy private?
First, it would have been nearly impossible for me to conceal my pregnancy from friends and neighbors. The chances were really good that someone was going to discover that I was a pregnant man, and not far-fetched that they might take the story to the media. Word about my pregnancy was already getting back to us, and Nancy and I didn’t want certain people dear to us finding out about us through the National Enquirer or some other tabloid. We wanted to tell them ourselves, and we wanted to be able to control how our story was made public. The second part of my answer is: Why should I have kept it private? Why should I have hidden my pregnancy beneath baggy clothing? Why should I have walked around in a permanent stoop so people didn’t notice my belly? Having a child should be one of the best and proudest moments of your life, and I wanted my pregnancy to be that kind of moment for Nancy and me. I have as much right to be pregnant as anyone else. And I also have the right to be happy and proud about it.
Didn’t you just go public to become famous and make money off your story? And aren’t you just exploiting your daughter for profit?
Nancy and I have never, ever been motivated by money. Nancy and I actually lost money during my pregnancy because the presence of paparazzi and media made it impossible for us to be open to the public and work at our custom-T-shirt warehouse. And, contrary to rumors, People magazine did not pay for the stories it ran. Nor did any TV show pay us to appear or run our story. Once little Susan was born, we did accept a modest amount of money for the sale of pregnancy and baby pictures to a photo agency, but it was less than our regular income from work, and far, far less than the amount that others have speculated we received. Basically, it is enough to start a college fund for Susan, which is exactly what we did. Any money we do make will, again, go into Susan’s college fund. After Susan was born, Nancy and I also accepted payment to be part of a documentary about the pregnancy and birth. Yet we refused other documentary offers for double the money. We turned down nearly $2 million in offers because we did not want to sensationalize the story. But our primary motive for doing a book and documentary is telling our story—and helping those who come after us, and giving voice to those who choose different paths in life.
Aren’t you just switching back and forth between genders to suit yourself?
Not at all. My gender is constant—I am a male. Even when I was a female, I identified with the male gender—and once I transitioned to a male, and was granted legal status as a male and husband, there was no turning back. Had Nancy been physically able to carry a child, she would have been the one who was pregnant. But because she can’t, and because I had retained my reproductive organs—as most transgender people do—I chose to become pregnant. People say that you have to be a woman in order to give birth, but I am proving that this is not so—I am a fully legal male, and I gave birth. My pregnancy challenged the socially accepted definitions of “woman,” “wife,” and “mother”; in other words, it’s a social issue, not a biological one. I was a man before I gave birth, I was a man during my pregnancy, and I am a man now.
Did you have a baby shower?
Indeed, a couple of neighbor friends generously threw one for Nancy and me. I had never attended a baby shower before. It came as a complete surprise, as I had underestimated the compassion and understanding of the people around us. Over forty friends and neighbors turned out for the baby shower, many with their own young children in tow.
Are you really the first pregnant man? Haven’t other transgender men been pregnant?
Believe me, we looked—and there was no one else on record. Due to the biological, social, and legal constraints a situation like this poses, it takes a concerted effort for a person in my standing to get pregnant. It doesn’t happen by accident—there are way too many obstacles. That being said, I am the first legal male and husband in the world to give birth to a child.
Are you the baby’s mother or father? Or both?
I am our baby’s father, and Nancy is her mother. It’s that simple. Yes, I was the one who gave birth to our child, and existing definitions equate “birth parent” with “mother”—but that is only because no one like me has ever come around before. There will surely be other transgender men who get pregnant down the road, and eventually they will be accepted as fathers, not mothers. I am neither a woman nor a mother—I am both our child’s father and the person who gave birth to her.
Are you afraid your marriage might be nullified? And aren’t you just a couple of lesbians, anyway?
It saddens me that anyone would want to undo my legal marriage to Nancy. She and I are, in every way, a married couple recognized in every state in the country. We meet the first criterion, which is that I am legally a man and she is legally a woman. We had a justice of the peace marry us, and we have a marriage certificate. What’s more, I don’t see what grounds our marriage could be dissolved on. Yes, I gave birth to a child, but I remained legally a male throughout the process. To be honest, Nancy and I are worried that someone may want to try to come after our marriage, and right from the start we talked to lawyers about how we could protect ourselves. Whatever happens, Nancy and I will fight as hard as we can for our rights, and we will never allow anyone to casually overturn what we worked so hard and so long to make happen. It’s strange to me when people ask me if Nancy and I aren’t just two lesbians. By definition, a lesbian is a woman who is sexually attracted exclusively to other women. Therefore, because I am legally male and identify as male, I’m not a lesbian. When you boil it all down, Nancy and I are just two human beings in love.
How—and when—will you tell your daughter, Susan, where she came from?
As Susan grows and matures, we will be open with her every step of the way. We will tell her how much her parents love her, and how hard we fought to bring her into this world. I’ll explain to her that she exists because I loved her enough to carry her myself, and because her mother couldn’t conceive anymore. We’ll teach her that no family is exactly alike or better than any other, and that love is all that matters. The only way to combat prejudice is through education and compassion. And that is the best thing we can do for our child: raise her to be nonjudgmental, to be compassionate, and to look past labels and love people for whom and what they are.
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