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Pregnant Man Gives Birth. That's a fact.
July 25, 2008 5:31 PM   Subscribe

The first legally transgendered man to become pregnant has given birth. Thomas Beatie and his wife Nancy have welcomed a daughter into the world.

Thomas on Oprah
Articleabout the pregnancy in The Times Online
Article by Thomas in The Advocate
posted by grapefruitmoon (150 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I thought that happened like 3 weeks ago?
posted by brain cloud at 5:38 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dude. Do we have to have instantaneous gratification on our gender milestones here? Why didn't you post about it three weeks ago?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:42 PM on July 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


I was going to say what brain cloud&grapefruitmoon said - it's a while back innit?
Somewhere wishing that they could use their eggs alone to create a female offspring - with genetics from both parents, since it's possible.
posted by dabitch at 5:46 PM on July 25, 2008


(Uh, dabitch, I was replying to brain cloud. I should have made that more clear. I'm also the OP.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:48 PM on July 25, 2008


@Seekerofslendor

What's sick about it?

Personally, I'm glad they got what they wanted.
posted by kalessin at 5:49 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't see the sick. Thomas Beatie was born a female with the ability to carry children - and never removed the uterus he was born with. Sadly Thomas Beatie's wife had her uterus removed, so they were left with only Thomas'- it's practical, not sick. But the hormone ride has got to have sucked.
posted by dabitch at 5:50 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I, for one, am happy as hell. I'll celebrate tonight! YAY! Gender is stupid.
posted by fuq at 5:50 PM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is there some sort of nomenclature guide for this sort of situation? Is Beatie a transgendered man because his terminal gender was male or would he be a transgendered woman because he's a woman who changed genders? You use 'transgendered man' but wouldn't it just be 'man' or 'transgendered woman'? Isn't a transgendered man a woman?

Or are we in some sort of flammable-inflammable situation here?
posted by GuyZero at 5:51 PM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


sorry grapefruitmoon - missed that
posted by dabitch at 5:51 PM on July 25, 2008


Also, see 8 year old coverage on Patrick Califia-Rice and Matt Rice and their son Blake. Unfortunately, they've since split up, I understand.
posted by kalessin at 5:53 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I get my information from only two sources, this being one of them, and they have served me well.

So, yeah, saw it in the National Enquirer.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:57 PM on July 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yay for a healthy kid born to loving parents!

everything else is just noise
posted by davejay at 6:03 PM on July 25, 2008 [30 favorites]


This is just sick. That's all.

Yeah, I'm going to have to agree. I mean, childbirth? With all the fluids and orifices and that nasty wrinkly red baby? Guh-ross!
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:03 PM on July 25, 2008


Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the hormones he took to become a man have been terribly bad for the child?
posted by Caduceus at 6:04 PM on July 25, 2008


Pregnant Man Gives Birth. That's a fact.

Cut to Dragnet, as Sergeant Joe Friday interviews the new father:

"Just the facts, maam, er, sir, er... just the facts.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:05 PM on July 25, 2008


GuyZero
Transgendered Man: Female to Male
Transgendered Woman: Male to Female
posted by Z303 at 6:16 PM on July 25, 2008


wouldn't the hormones he took to become a man....
That's a good question, and the answer is - the medical community does not know.

As things are not anonymous here I only wish I could share more on the subject.
posted by dabitch at 6:19 PM on July 25, 2008


GuyZero, as I understand the normal usage, "transgendered man" parses as "a man, who is also transgender[ed]", rather than as "someone whose sex is 'transgendered man'". IANAexpert.
posted by hattifattener at 6:20 PM on July 25, 2008


wouldn't the hormones he took to become a man....

Hopefully these parents would be more enlightened than to inflict on the child the horrible "remedies" that have been applied in the past to a female fetus exposed to testosterone.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:33 PM on July 25, 2008


That's a good question, and the answer is - the medical community does not know.

Ah. Well, I hope the kid doesn't regret it.
posted by Caduceus at 6:34 PM on July 25, 2008


yeah, i'm kind of confused about the hoopla about this -- i remember reading about patrick and matt years ago.

hooray for kids coming into a loving home where they're wanted!
posted by rmd1023 at 6:34 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the hormones he took to become a man have been terribly bad for the child?

That's why he stopped when they started trying to conceive. Testosterone likely does weird things with ovulation too.
posted by mkb at 6:55 PM on July 25, 2008


Congrats to the happy family!
posted by rtha at 7:02 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you look at this from a biological perspective it's just "BEARDED WOMAN HAS BABY."

I'm pro-surgery and I'll call you by whatever pronoun you'd like, but truthfully, that's the only way I see it.
posted by Citizen Premier at 7:02 PM on July 25, 2008 [9 favorites]


On one hand, neat - gender boundary & stereo-type explosions & a (hopefully) happy family. On the other hand...contrived pregnancy amidst over-population and extreme abundance of children without families...

...I'll just stick with being happy for them on an individual level, since that's about all anyone can do and not be a jerk, I s'pose.
posted by batmonkey at 7:08 PM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Whatever, just as long as they don't do in the street and scare the horses.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:08 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


We're a happy family
Me, mom and daddy
posted by fixedgear at 7:09 PM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm thrilled for them. Much love and happiness to their family!!
posted by pearlybob at 7:15 PM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


C'mon, I'm sure the kid'll be fine. Pfft...worryworts.

More power to them, and better them than me.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:23 PM on July 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


I saw it on Oprah, and was really intrigued until I found out that he still had his uterus. Then it was thoroughly unimpressive.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:28 PM on July 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


Wow. At the point I am writing this not a single comment had been favorited. But I hope at least one has been flagged. Because this makes me happy.

Gender schmender. Does testosterone do weird things to babies? As a male person, allow me to answer. From experience, as a former baby who was disfigured into adulthood by testosterone, the answer is yes. Yes yes yes. But I'm dealing with it. However, I'm still young by transhuman standards: I'm only 43.

Transgender parents have transgender babies. I hope. Because if so, this is the luckiest baby in the world.

Transgendered people are the best. Speaking as one, whatever and however that means, I say this in order to make room for all of us.

All of us have come a long way, baby.

PS I went back and favorited all of you who i think get it. Yea for everyone!
posted by humannaire at 7:32 PM on July 25, 2008 [9 favorites]


Uterus + Vagina + Placenta = Woman gives birth to baby. Saying it's a fact that it's a man because it had his gender "legally" changed is hooey. This whole issue just seems completely ridiculous to me. This guy wanted to have his cake and eat it too. Well do you wanna be a man or NOT??? He knew all along that when he had his surgery he wanted to keep his organs to have a baby? Then he's been in denial since day one.. not about not being a woman, but about not wanting to be a woman.. about wanting to be a man, but not wanting to be.. a.. wait, no I mean.. she wanted to be a.. he wanted her ability to.. wait no.. he.. she.. THEY.. IT.. her him hem manan womansheheherhim AWWW DAMNNNN!!!
posted by ChickenringNYC at 7:44 PM on July 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


boring, old, fark
posted by caddis at 7:46 PM on July 25, 2008


I think I'm just too self-centered to be either happy or outraged.
posted by Kloryne at 7:52 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Misleading. Calling him a man is like saying a guy without a uterus, placenta, 'innie' , etc somehow did it. Its the opposite.
posted by uni verse at 7:55 PM on July 25, 2008


How very articulate, ChickenringNYC.
posted by desuetude at 8:00 PM on July 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


I went back and favorited all of you who i think get it.

Hey, you didn't favorite my comment, humannaire! What, just cause Sergeant Joe Friday doesn't get it, then I don't get a favorite? Waaaaahhh!

One thing I wonder, though: who's the kid gonna call mommy, and who daddy?

Just askin'...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:09 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the hate here, nor the loudmouths in Oregon (where they reside).

Someone with two X chromosomes went through development with non-standard neurological wiring (for someone with two X chromosomes) leading them to feel that they are a man.

He decides, with the help and advice of trained psychologists and other medical personel, to take exogenous hormone treatments so he moreso outwardly resemble the gender that he feels that he is.

His wife finds that she cannot become pregnant. He makes the sacrifice of withdrawing from his medication for the purpose of being able to bear a child in surrogate for his wife.

---

So what if you had a really short kid due to some developmental problems with their pituitary gland - would you deny them growth hormones so they grow up to be like little Johnny Keats 5 foot nothing?
posted by porpoise at 8:16 PM on July 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


Misleading. Calling him a man is like saying a guy without a uterus, placenta, 'innie' , etc somehow did it. Its the opposite.

So are you saying he's not a man? Or rather that the media is irresponsibly sensationalizing something?
posted by treepour at 8:18 PM on July 25, 2008


flapjax, presumably he'll call Nancy mommy and Thomas daddy, in accordance with their genders.

Plenty of children call someone "mommy" who is not their birth mother, and call someone "daddy" who did not impregnate their "mommy."
posted by desuetude at 8:24 PM on July 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


Glad they had the baby and all, but I think they've let the press too far in what is ultimately a personal family event. I wish them well and hope they will be able to raise this child out of the public eye.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:28 PM on July 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


Honestly, this is not a big deal. A crossdressing female who has not completely gone all the way with surgery to become a man gave birth to a baby.

I have a feeling this is not the first time this has happened. This is only the first time it has been made public. It will sell papers because to look at this person, one sees a male-but again, only genetic females who have a uterus can give birth.

Now, if someone gets a uterus transplant and then gets pregnant and gives birth, then call me-for that will be newsworthy. Calling this biological mother a "man" is not biologically accurate. Perhaps socially accurate, in his/her mind, I can grant that. but biologically? No.
posted by konolia at 8:29 PM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


September Films has picked up the rights for a one-hour documentary about transgender man Thomas Beatie called 'Pregnant Man':
"The company will have exclusive access to Thomas Beatie and his family. Beatie was formerly Tracy Lagondino, a Hawaiian beauty pageant contestant, before he underwent gender reassignment surgery and hormone treatment. Docu will tell the story of his life, from difficult childhood and transgender issues as a teenager, through to the birth of his daughter at an Oregon hospital on June 29...September, which is owned by DCD Media, fought off rival bids for the rights from four other companies. Sheldon Lazarus, creative director of September, said: 'This controversial and unique story has made ‘Pregnant Man’ one of the most sought after stories to film. September is gaining a truly global reputation for producing these types of documentaries and handling the subject matter in a responsible and sensitive manner.'"
posted by ericb at 8:31 PM on July 25, 2008


Given the biological facts, the only "big deal" here is the people who find the need to use the story to whip up a hate-fest. I'd find it far more interesting if a transgendered female had found a way to carry a baby.
posted by Goofyy at 8:31 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


A crossdressing female who has not completely gone all the way with surgery

Also not accurate, konolia.
posted by desuetude at 8:35 PM on July 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


For those who haven't gotten the memo yet, biology does not necessarily equal gender identity. I don't see why people get so huffy about calling someone by the pronoun they prefer. Just saying "he's got girl bits, not a dude, hurr," is a pretty sad way to approach such a complicated and fascinating subject.
posted by lysistrata at 8:38 PM on July 25, 2008


Pregnant Man's Baby: First Pictures of Susan Juliette Featured in People Magazine [video | 03:14].
posted by ericb at 8:40 PM on July 25, 2008


How very articulate, ChickenringNYC.

Why, thanks! And for the record, to all those "hater"-haters: I'm not a hater, I'm just part of the population who, when they see a photo of this person above a headline saying "Man has baby!", calmly, rationally and "matter-of-factly" tells himself, "No man has a child." It seems to me like he's making a mockery of the whole thing because child-bearing is THE fundamental difference between a man and woman and so, what were the prevailing reasons ABOVE THAT which convinced him to do what he did? I'm curious about the cultural questions. What "guy things" did he want to do (besides telling himself he's a man and 'feeling' like a man)? The poor kid! How must is completely scramble a child's mind to have two mothers and one father, but only two parents? He's going to have a hell of a time in school trying to explain who his mom and dad are. Well, at least not until he understands a shred of anything about biology and anatomy. Until then, it'll just be, "...well daddy's belly got big and mommy put ice chips in his mouth while he was on the delivery table. Daddy threw up a lot while I grew, and wanted to eat pickles all the time for some reason and mommy held the camcorder while the baby came out of daddy's belly and then mommy handed out cigarettes to her friends because it was OK for mommy to smoke while daddy grew the baby!"

In response to tortoise's comment above: the guy was ALWAYS planning on having a baby, not "just because" his wife couldn't.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 8:42 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


That there's one kid who will never have to wonder if she was wanted.

everything else is just noise

Amen to that. And a special blessing for parents who, having fought so hard to be true to themselves, will probably fight even harder for their daughter's right to be who she needs to be.

Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness. All that good shit.
posted by Kinbote at 8:46 PM on July 25, 2008 [10 favorites]


And for the MegaSnarks, I'm aware of any and all spelling/grammatikul errors in my posts, so don't snark about them.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 8:47 PM on July 25, 2008


Mazel tov!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:52 PM on July 25, 2008


Honestly, this is not a big deal. A crossdressing female who has not completely gone all the way with surgery to become a man gave birth to a baby.

A crossdressing female (or, male) = transvestite.

Such is so far different from a transexual -- whatever stage she/he finds her/himself (via hormone treatment, surgery, etc.)
posted by ericb at 8:57 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


It seems to me like he's making a mockery of the whole thing because child-bearing is THE fundamental difference between a man and woman and so, what were the prevailing reasons ABOVE THAT which convinced him to do what he did?

Love. Which prevails over all our little fears.
posted by Kinbote at 9:00 PM on July 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


Love. Which prevails over all our little fears.

Love for whom? I'm not talking the fact that he had the kid, I meant the reasons for becoming a man while knowing he still wanted to have children.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 9:05 PM on July 25, 2008


I can't decide on this. I'm not trying to be an asshole, but I really have torn feelings on the matter, and they all centre on the child.

I really do not care if a b(iological)-woman wants to become a l(egal)-man, or if a b-man wants to become a l-woman. It's none of my business. By the same token, I don't care of someone tattoos, brands, splits their penis, splits their tongue, or surgical creates 23 vaginas on their torso.

All of those things are what people do to themselves.

The moment a kid is brought into it though, things get complicated for me. The kid didn't choose what ultimately adds complexity to their life. I have the same issue with drug-addicts who have children (not including the difficulties faced by fetus' of drug-takers). It's not fair to saddle the kid with unusual burdens, if those burdens can be easily avoided by not having the kid.

No one (including me, though I am a parent) should have the unassailable right to have a child. It should be done with kindness and forethought and a logical and concerned fully-intentional decision to have one.

Now, of course, we don't get into those eugenics-tainted issues...the dividing line on who gets to have a kid and who doesn't is too complex for available wisdom. And that's why I'm torn. I don't claim to have that wisdom and I don't want to judge these people too harshly. I just really, really hope that their choice....to bring someone into the world to face continual and intense judgement and scrutiny...doesn't end badly for the child.

And all that being said, I wish them, and the kid, the best of luck getting through it.
posted by Kickstart70 at 9:06 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Love of life. Love of liberty. And perhaps a love for the pursuit of true happiness, all of which seem like pretty good starting places for having the kind of life you'd want to pass on to your child.
posted by Kinbote at 9:10 PM on July 25, 2008


This is swell and mazel tov and all, but I can't wait until this sort of thing isn't in the news; not because it won't be happening, but just that people will learn to mind their own fucking business and not lose their shit just when the folks down the street don't live exactly the way they do.

Well do you wanna be a man or NOT???

Wow, that takes me back to the day dad decided to teach me how to use a chainsaw.
I just prefer the bowsaw, dammit! I'm not scared!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:14 PM on July 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm confused—the article says he is NOT the first transgendered male to give birth. I assume that's why the original post says "first legally transgendered man," but what does that mean? Did the ones before him not legally register their gender change? And actually, what's the paperwork for that sort of thing, I wonder?
posted by chrominance at 9:19 PM on July 25, 2008


Wow, that takes me back to the day dad decided to teach me how to use a chainsaw.

HAHA!! That's freakin' hilarious. I didn't mean it in that old-school way, but I see your point. I just mean, well, it seems to me, since I'm a man, that if I wasn't a man and wanted to BE one, I certainly wouldn't want to be having a baby and going through all of that stuff. Because men don't have babies. Sorry, haters! We just don't. I don't care how ignorant, unenlightened, naive, immature or sexist that may seem to all those who see the beauty in this! It's just a human-interest story which isn't all that interesting, since when it comes down to it, a woman had a baby...BIG FRICKIN WHOOP. Happens all the time these days and SOME wacko religious people even have 15 of them!
posted by ChickenringNYC at 9:20 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


To me, the real controversy, here, is that as kalessin already pointed out, Matt Rice did this 8 years ago. If you do a search for 'Matt Rice pregnant' you'll find that a lot of people are a little pissed about the blatant exploitation the Beaties are practicing.
posted by vertigo25 at 9:21 PM on July 25, 2008


This is swell and mazel tov and all, but I can't wait until this sort of thing isn't in the news...

Brings to mind yesterday's anniversary:
Special delivery: World's first test tube baby turns 30.

30 years of test-tube babies.
posted by ericb at 9:24 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's just a human-interest story which isn't all that interesting, since when it comes down to it, a woman had a baby...BIG FRICKIN WHOOP

You seem to care about it a great deal.
posted by lysistrata at 9:31 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Someone mentioned gender reassignment surgery above. In this case, that consisted only of the whacking off of brest material (and taking hormones).

I always assumed that gender reassignment surgery entailed somehow surgically fashioning naughty bits that, in this case, would allow Thomas to stand and pee and no longer be able to get pregnant.

So, yeah, it's a biologically female, legally male person who gave birth. Not so sensational.
posted by tippiedog at 9:47 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Kickstart70 wrote: The moment a kid is brought into it though, things get complicated for me. The kid didn't choose what ultimately adds complexity to their life. I have the same issue with drug-addicts who have children (not including the difficulties faced by fetus' of drug-takers). It's not fair to saddle the kid with unusual burdens, if those burdens can be easily avoided by not having the kid.

Unfortunately, humans aren't hard-wired for that kind of rationality. If we were, then I imagine the world's population would be a small percentage of the current value, since extreme poverty, for instance, while not at all unusual, is a burden that no rational parent would willing bring a child into (To be fair, you acknowledge the complexities of this line of thinking).

Compared to the burdens of extreme poverty, famine, drought and war, I think the challenges that this child will face due to the gender situation of her parents will be quite trivial.
posted by tippiedog at 9:55 PM on July 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


You seem to care about it a great deal.

Eh, it annoys me because of the KIND of press it gets.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 10:00 PM on July 25, 2008


I just wanted to point out, now that the discussion is going on its own and I don't feel like I'm "hogging" my own thread that I posted this because I think that the story is really incredible, both in terms of transgender rights/freedoms (the right to choose whatever gender identity you feel comfortable with, and the ability to choose what reproductive capacity you keep) and in terms of family dynamics.

One of my dearest friends and former college roommates is a transgendered man, and he's always wanted to be a dad. He's also talked about how he would conceivably carry a child, while still living as a man. And that, that just blows my mind in terms of the courage that it takes to accept who you are in yourself while rejecting eons of human history in which men *haven't* given birth. Interestingly, my friend is also gay, so he could ostensibly be one of the first gay men to give birth to a baby that is biologically both his (well, his egg... and that does feel weird to type, I'll admit it) and his partner's. Which would be pretty cool.

Human families have always been complex and it always fills my heart with warm squishies to see them created out of love.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:01 PM on July 25, 2008 [7 favorites]


less inside, actually.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:58 PM on July 25, 2008


Wow, the flags are like whack-a-mole in here. Wheeee!

ChickeringNYC, why does it bother you so much that Thomas Beatie "became" a man and then, according to your mindset, gave it up to have this kid. Because honestly, you don't seem just "annoyed" to me; you're coming off as grossed out and frantic, dropping gender and pregnancy stereotypes left and right and drawing the line in the sand: a man is THIS, a woman is THAT, never the twain shall blend. Just think of the children! But, dude ... in the nicest way possible (I mean that), isn't reacting as though this is a threat to Masculinity and Guyhood say more about you than about him?

Kickstart - if you're going to take that position ... you know, the only possible reasons I could see that having (a) trans parent(s) could be bad for a child are:

1) the hormones affecting pregnancy;
2) the kid gets made fun of by his peers;

As far as the first reason goes, Thomas Beatie stopped his hormones before he got pregnant. As for the second, one might as well blame anyone from a persecuted ethnic minority for having kids, which, well ... but in all honesty, I think I'd be more worried if they named him Superman Beatie or something.

Basically, if we're going to nose into other people's reproductive decisions, I can think of soooooo many more questionable parents than this pair. I'm not even talking about the obvious ones like the drug addicts, but how many young couples do you know who've gotten kids before they really thought it through, before they're financially ready for it? At least with the Beaties it was clearly a carefully considered and monitored decision!

Oh, and to all the people going on about how Beatie is "biologically a woman," - yes, he does have two XX chromosomes and a uterus, for now at least. However, while I'm hardly an expert and a lot of this material is controversial, a lot of the recent research suggests that there are parts of a transperson's brain that are wired differently from a cisgendered person's ... you know, biologically.
posted by bettafish at 11:17 PM on July 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


What's really sick and gross and perverted are bigots who feel the need to spread hate for Beatie and his wife.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:44 PM on July 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Someone mentioned gender reassignment surgery above. In this case, that consisted only of the whacking off of brest material (and taking hormones).

I always assumed that gender reassignment surgery entailed somehow surgically fashioning naughty bits that, in this case, would allow Thomas to stand and pee and no longer be able to get pregnant.

Merely removing breasts and taking hormones? Presumably "merely" growing breasts and taking on a realistically female appearance would be rather a significant difference for you?

As for "bottom" surgery, while it's possible for medical science to fashion a functional vagina, creating a remotely normal-looking and functional penis is not quite so far along; many transmen feel that the currently available options are not worth it. As for oophorectomy and hysterectomy, it perhaps sounds logical in theory that transmen would get rid of all female reproductive organs, but it's seriously major surgery, and not always felt to be truly necessary, given that supplemental hormones prevent ovulation.
posted by desuetude at 12:17 AM on July 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hmmm ... is everyone who rejects (or at least questions) the premises you consider self-evident a hate-spreading bigot? That's gonna be a mighty long list.
posted by RavinDave at 12:22 AM on July 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's a thread in which I am going to sink my teeth.

But first, this:

Because men don't have babies. Sorry, haters! We just don't.

Speak for yourself, hater. We just do. And that is regardless of whether you want it to be otherwise or not. Welcome to Century 21. The limitations found here?

They are in your own mind.

In other words, define yourself how you choose, but leave the rest of us out of your prejudices/pre-judices.

The fact of the matter is here in the future all bets are off, and if men who would like to have babies are going to have them. I mean, where do you see technology heading? Gasoline-powered cars that go fifty miles on a single gallon? [Cracks up]

Here's the deal. One upon a time one group of monkeys chose to stay in the trees while the other moved on. Metaphorically speaking, this is precisely what is happening right here and right now. Those who want to stay grounded will do so, and those of us who choose to fly untethered are making our way. Bigotry notwithstanding.

So you're not amazed. Great. But rain on someone else's parade. All of ours vision of the future who can get with [surprising change] is not only pretty cool, it's piss-proof.
posted by humannaire at 1:16 AM on July 26, 2008 [8 favorites]


I think it's reasonable to assume that the Beaties thought they were pre-empting the media attention. Just because a transman has given birth before - I don't know if they were aware of him or not - doesn't mean that when a man, with a beard and flat chest and all, gives birth in some hospital the media won't be all over them when it leaks out. And as transpeople know, if you don't get in first and fast, journalists have a tendency to be complete and total arseholes when reporting on trans issues.

So I can see the Beaties' appearances on Oprah and such as preparing the way, getting in their side of the story first, and - most importantly - getting a chance to appear to the general public as a relatively normal couple who made some unusual choices in order to have a child. Better that than WOMAN WITH A BEARD GIVES BIRTH headlines and lots of references to Thomas' "real" name and his "real" gender. Because, for some reason, everyone else knows what's real better than the person in question.

Also, to further address the question of surgery - and the implication that someone is not a "real" transman until he's had a surgically constructed penis - I think the majority of transmen do not opt for "bottom surgery" because, as desuetude says, the results are unsatisfactory.

Finally, it's pleasing to know that the ability of random people to apply the power of their UNSTOPPABLE COMMON SENSE to absolutely everything, even - especially - subjects with which they are barely acquainted, remains as widespread as ever. What's it like in that hermetically sealed reality dome?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:18 AM on July 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Speak for yourself, hater. We just do. And that is regardless of whether you want it to be otherwise or not. Welcome to Century 21. The limitations found here?

They are in your own mind.


Look, this "man gives birth" story wasn't brought to us by magical nano-pixie dust from the infinite transhuman future. It was brought to us by lawyers. It was the legal system that declared the person with two X chromosomes and a womb a man.

I was born XY. It'll be a big deal when _I_ get knocked up.

And my wife will have a lot of explaining to do.
posted by codswallop at 2:22 AM on July 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


And my wife will have a lot of explaining to do.

I think it's going to go quite the opposite way...
posted by qvantamon at 2:33 AM on July 26, 2008


bettafish.. Gender and pregnancy stereotypes? More like science. Women have a uterus and give birth to a child. Yeah, major stereotype there. And, please, notice how I've referred to Beatle.. "he" or "him" most all of the time. And I never implied he was "going back" to womanhood for the purposes of having this child.. I just think it was silly for him to switch with the mindset of "I'll keep it all because I know I want a baby anyway." Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even me. I think it's also foolish to assume these people will be wonderful parents because they've appeared on Oprah and said nice things and well yeah, it's portrayed as a heart-warming and quirky story. I'm too cynical to see it that way, and to think of a future where men can have babies truly frightens me because remember everyone, all of this crap about a man having a baby, you're actually drinking the Kool-Aid. Beatle doesn't have a penis, testicles, adams apple, etc, so he's no man, for sure. He can "identify" all he wants, and have legal proceedings, documents, injections, treatments, five-o-clock shadows, the whole nine. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if in a year or two we see a reality show about this, trumpeting the rare and wonderful upbringing of the poor child. To see a darker future outcome from this story would make me look like the devil, so I'd like to be clear that I am your typical godless atheist neurotic born-and-raised NYer. I don't applaud people for simply having a kid.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 4:07 AM on July 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


He could almost see the husband which she would someday have. He would be a dwarf, a gnome, without glands or desire, who would be no more a physical factor in her life than the owner's name on the flyleaf of a book.
posted by sluglicker at 4:10 AM on July 26, 2008


to think of a future where men can have babies truly frightens me

Yes, I believe after a few more successful trial runs, the trans community is thinking of weaponising male pregnancy. And you'll be first against the wall! Boom!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:23 AM on July 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


God help me, I have to almost agree with ChickenringNYC about this, despite the fact that he's been a bit of an arsehole about it (and konolia, who hasn't). I really don't care whether this person identifies as a man, a woman or a hamster, but biologically speaking, a person with certain physical characteristics such as a vagina, a uterus and ovaries is a woman as far as I can see. I do acknowledge that I am no kind of expert here, but to say that someone is a man because of feeling that way (yes I know, much more complex than that) just doesn't sit well with me.

Still, with a bit of luck, the child will grow up to be happy, healthy and well-adjusted. Which is a lot more that we can say for a significant portion of children born to "conventional" couples. In the end, that's what matters.
posted by dg at 5:04 AM on July 26, 2008


to think of a future where men can have babies truly frightens me

Vivat Grendel!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:21 AM on July 26, 2008


I'm not about to label people "haters" since I find that expression almost as annoying as people who self-identify as "players" but calling this "sick"?

A married couple, apparently very much in love, had a seemingly healthy baby who I presume they're going to shower with love and affection. Lucky kid, considering the alternatives.

Let he or she who has banished all the freaky shit from their own bedroom cast the first stone. After all, they must be bored senseless.
posted by JaredSeth at 5:29 AM on July 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


So are you saying he's not a man?

Well... he's not, in some important ways.

He's a woman who wants to be acknowledged as a man, who has taken great pains to be acknowledged as a man, who we should acknowledge as a man, and who we do acknowledge as a man.

Which is not the same thing as an actual man.

*shrug* I care little about the transgendered issues. I confess very mild annoyance at the way this is consistently framed since the first time I saw this I thought that they must have nailed down the tech to allow actual men to gestate a fetus in their abdomen. This is much less awesomely high-tech than that.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:16 AM on July 26, 2008 [6 favorites]


I really don't care whether this person identifies as a man, a woman or a hamster, but biologically speaking, a person with certain physical characteristics such as a vagina, a uterus and ovaries is a woman as far as I can see.

Let's look at this from the other side of things. If a woman suffers a life threatening reproductive cancer, and has her reproductive organs removed, by this logic she is no longer a woman. If the defining characteristics of feminity are the vagina, the uterus and the ovaries, then there are a whole lot of women out there that just don't fit that narrow definition any more. The meat is such a very small part of what makes up gender identity, and when you take away the meat you aren't taking away the gender.
posted by Jilder at 6:35 AM on July 26, 2008 [18 favorites]


None of your opinions about anyone's chosen or given genders matters a single fucking bit unless you're attracted to them and interested in having sex with them.

No, seriously. Why do you care so much? It's none of your fucking business, even if you think they're seeking attention from the media. No one here has the right to dictate or even define what human sexuality is for anyone but themselves. You cannot define it for others. You can opine all you want about it, but it just makes you a jackass. There are no defined rules to human sexuality. You simply cannot generalize about it. All the rules that you think are givens that govern everyone else are merely your own prejudices, and they'll never be anything more than that, no matter how much you let them rule your personal life.

It is not at all within your rights to attempt to define sexuality for others, nor is it even possible. You may reserve the right to talk at length about things you may refuse to attempt to even understand, but that doesn't make you correct or right - it just makes you look like an ignorant asshole.

And you may indeed try to control the sexuality of others. You may insist that it fits into neatly labled boxes for your own lazy ease and psychological comfort. You could go all Handmaid's Tale on the world and try to legislate your own definition of morality and sexuality. You could vote against same-sex marriage, you could vote against equal rights for transgender people.

Heck, you could even try to make masturbation illegal - and it would make about as much sense and be about as effective.

Because it'll never change the underlying, fundamental reasons of why people are the way they are - and despite your attempts at controlling them, they'll still be who they are on the inside - except now they probably hate you for oppressing them with your hatred.

So, really? You really should just let them be who they want to be. If you think it's silly or ugly, or you don't understand and don't care to ask sincere questions or engage in a healthy dialog - you really should just keep your big fat mouth shut, because those are your opinions, not facts - and your ignorant opinions can hurt people very, very badly and prevent them from becoming who they really need to be to be fulfilled, healthy and happy and not depressed and/or self-loathing.

Because these kinds of negative, ignorant and outright fucking bigoted comments don't help anyone at all except perhaps to weakly salve the confusion and misunderstanding of the ignorant themselves - and to make the way towards practiced bigotry and hate much, much easier.

Choose your words wisely. When it comes to gender identity, you have no idea who you might be insulting or hurting with your careless words.
posted by loquacious at 6:39 AM on July 26, 2008 [28 favorites]


I've long thought the Left took a wrong turn when it comes to transgender issues.

You have someone who feels certain ways and knows that in our society, that means they "feel like a man". Rather than encouraging the world to expand its definition of what it means to be a woman and expand the ways its acceptble to feel and act as a woman, we instead encourage the person to attempt to crudely conform their biology to society's framework.

To me, that sounds like the opposite of acceptance.
posted by the jam at 6:44 AM on July 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Erm, hit post a bit too soon on that.

The meat is such a very small part of what makes up gender identity, and when you take away the meat you aren't taking away the gender. The indentity is firmly in the mind, and a trans person has a mental identity that doesn't mesh with the meat. It doesn't matter if they still have their old plumbing, (and many do, in my experience - esp. female-to-male, where as it's been mentioned the payoffs are often not worth the cost), because in the mind they have always and will always be the gender they have trasitioned to.

In any case, I really wish them the best of luck. Any child produced by such effort is going to feel very, very wanted.
posted by Jilder at 6:44 AM on July 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


the jam, if you read the other linked article about the two transmen who had a baby, one of them reports going as far out gender-queer dyke as he could, and still not feeling masculine enough. There are people who believe that their bodies' biology do not conform to their minds' framework, who do not want to expand the ways it's acceptable to feel and act as a woman, but who WANT TO BE A MAN PERIOD. How is advocating for that person's right to have whatever surgery is desired the 'opposite of acceptance'? What does 'the Left' boogeyman have to do with anything anyway?
posted by mkb at 7:24 AM on July 26, 2008


For those who insist that Thomas is a "woman" because he desired to give birth: if science advanced enough to the point it was possible don't you believe there are men out there who would choose to carry and give birth to a child? Would they cease to be men if they did? This situation is slightly different. yes, but I don't think it's a valid argument to say that Thomas is not a man simply because he chose to hold on to the possibility of having a child. It doesn't seem like a case of having your cake and eating it to me. It seems like we have this person who, for whatever reason, has the gender identity of a man yet, knowing that he was in the unique position to bring life into this world, chose to do that too.

I feel like some people feel like he was cheating or something. That makes no sense to me.
posted by lysistrata at 7:38 AM on July 26, 2008


MeTa.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:46 AM on July 26, 2008


I feel like some people feel like he was cheating or something. That makes no sense to me.

He's not cheating. The headlines of MAN GIVES BIRTH are.

MAN GIVES BIRTH implies a bunch of things that just aren't true here. MAN GIVES BIRTH implies new worlds opening for gay couples to have children with only a donated ovum instead of a surrogate mother. MAN GIVES BIRTH implies new worlds opening for single men who desire offspring. MAN GIVES BIRTH implies new possibilities for straight couples where the woman can't carry a child normally for whatever reason, or where they think it's better for the man to carry the child for whatever reason makes sense to them.

BIOLOGICAL WOMAN WHO RECEIVED SURGICAL AND HORMONAL TREATMENTS TO LIVE AS A MAN GIVES BIRTH USING STILL-FUNCTIONAL REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS isn't newsworthy, even in a weekly shopper. If you're not part of that family, why would you care?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:57 AM on July 26, 2008 [6 favorites]


The fact that the media has evolved to the point where they are presenting Thomas as a man (because he is legally one and identifies as one) is the amazing part of this story to me. The fact that this causes a backlash in which everyone suspects they are being tricked and begins to point out all reasons why this is wrong says more about our relationship with the media than it does about our feelings about transgendered people, IMO.

However, all of you who keep saying, "I'm sorry, this is a WOMAN, biologically" are echoing the sentiment that basically affirms trans people's worst fears: that society has evolved enough to allow them to make radical transformations and tolerate them at surface level, but that in any unforeseen or irregular situation, the public will turn on them and remind them what they "really" are.

If you consider yourself tolerant and compassionate but still feel the need to "call a spade a spade" then you are not ready to interact with or comment on trans issues.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 9:44 AM on July 26, 2008 [13 favorites]


It sounds like you are asking people to define truth according to how it makes other people feel, rather than what they genuinely believe to be objective fact. I'm not sure that's a wise policy.
posted by RavinDave at 9:53 AM on July 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


However, all of you who keep saying, "I'm sorry, this is a WOMAN, biologically" are echoing the sentiment that basically affirms trans people's worst fears: that society has evolved enough to allow them to make radical transformations and tolerate them at surface level, but that in any unforeseen or irregular situation, the public will turn on them and remind them what they "really" are.

Would you mind if I put this on a t-shirt? Or on a blimp? Or on the moon?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:13 AM on July 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


It sounds like you are asking people to define truth according to how it makes other people feel, rather than what they genuinely believe to be objective fact. I'm not sure that's a wise policy.

Point out obvious facts when it comes to gender identity, and I might agree with you.

But as it stands, what people like to call "facts" with regard to gender identity aren't facts at all - they are opinions. There aren't any "facts" in human sexuality. There are a lot of generally accepted commonalities, but none of those are actually facts.

It's like saying "All humans have two arms" which isn't true. Some are born with more or less arms. Or saying "All humans have sex" which also isn't true. Generalizations are not facts. Generalizations are generalizations.

What is being asked here is that people accept the feelings that any given human being expresses as truth. For someone to come out and express these things - that they feel they are/were of the wrong physical gender - already means that they must have gone through a very large amount of emotional pain to get to that point that the option of coming out is less painful than the bigotry and prejudice that they will face by coming out.

Refusing to accept a persons given gender - whether or not you erroneously think it's a mere, flip choice - only adds to that very real and very valid pain.

Again, choose wisely. This isn't about facts. This is about the fluidity of human sexuality and gender identity. Whether or not it fits into your world view is immaterial and pointless - but your response to it is not pointless at all. These people are real people. They have jobs and responsibilities. They are doctors, teachers, engineers, scientists and more. Their lives effect yours, whether you like it or not. It behooves you and your own health and wealth to accept these people and wish for them to be healthy and happy - because if they aren't it could effect your own life very negatively. As it is in all things human.

You can either respond from a place of love, understanding and acceptance, or from a place of hate, ignorance and rejection.

Choose wisely. Your own health and happiness is also at stake.
posted by loquacious at 10:14 AM on July 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


It sounds like you are asking people to define truth according to how it makes other people feel, rather than what they genuinely believe to be objective fact.

Not as it pertains to everything, of course; but as it pertains to this sensitive, complicated issues like this, yes. Consider it a clause in the social contract that only the biggest assholes cross out before they sign.

This courtesy is at the very root of our ability to be open about sexual orientation and gender identity. These are issues where what is apparent is often misleading, and where you have to be prepared to accept an individual's statements about themselves, no matter how alien or silly they sound to you.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 10:22 AM on July 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


not-hermitosist, that's a bit of a silly slippery-slope.

I at least am not saying that there's anything bad or shameful or creepy or whatever about this couple having a child.

I am only saying that "AREA PERSON GIVES BIRTH USING UTERUS AND BIRTH CANAL GROWN NATURALLY IN AREA PERSON'S BODY AND PRESENT FROM AREA PERSON'S BIRTH" is the opposite of newsworthy and interesting.

"PERSON WITH NO UTERUS OR VAGINA GIVES BIRTH TO LIVE INFANT" would be newsworthy and interesting.

"PERSON WITH ARTIFICIALLY-GROWN UTERUS GIVES BIRTH TO LIVE INFANT" would be newsworthy and interesting.

"PERSON WITH IMPLANTED UTERUS GIVES BIRTH TO LIVE INFANT," again, newsworthy and interesting.

"EXTERNALLY-GESTATED INFANT SAFELY DECANTED", very newsworthy.

This: not newsworthy. Not interesting, unless you think that post-op transsexuals are freaks worth gawking at, especially not in this world where zillions of people do far more desperate and life-changing things to try to have kids.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:22 AM on July 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


i think it's interesting from the perspective that a person who is confident in his identity as a man is also comfortable getting pregnant and giving birth. I think that's mad cool. I want that version of masculinity as the hegemony, plz!
posted by Hildegarde at 10:27 AM on July 26, 2008 [7 favorites]


Meh.

I think the problem here is that we don't have language to describe this phenomena well. The guy feels like he should be a man, but he has female bits; not only that, but they are functioning female bits that popped out a baby.

There are no simple words to describe this. The guy (the male brain part) isn't a male (the male dangly bits); the female (the female baby-making parts) isn't a gal (the female brain part).

That he decided to put his female parts to work just makes it all the more complicated. There is no one- or two-word tag for a male brain in a female body that pops out babies.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:32 AM on July 26, 2008


fff: it makes it easier if you just stop equating sex and gender. Honestly.
posted by Hildegarde at 10:36 AM on July 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


This: not newsworthy.

That's what people's main problem seems to be here, except the way they're expressing themselves about seems to put the burden of authenticity on the individual, or the family. This is only a newsworthy story because enough people are confused or curious about it that it seems to demand exploration (I remember months ago when Drudge was running this story incredulously with the headline "MAN CLAIMS TO BE PREGNANT." RTFA, Drudge).

So now anyone with five brain cells to show off feels like they're pointing out the Emperor's new clothes by reminding everyone that "it's not a man." These are the same people who would never dream of voicing the opinion that Thomas's wife (or any female) is "not a woman" because of her hysterectomy.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 10:39 AM on July 26, 2008


WTF, Hildegarde? Did I not carefully not equate sex (the genitalia) and gender (the brain)?

Why, look at the middle sentence with all the parenthesis. It looks like I did not equate the two.

Please offer up a short word that can be used to describe the combination of male brain with female genitalia. "Man," "woman," "male," and "female" are already taken: they're used for those people with a brain that matches their physical parts. "Transexual," while accurate, isn't a short, simple tag.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:45 AM on July 26, 2008


Yey for them but I so totally don't care about this and don't quite understand why anybody else does -- if 'he' has a uterus than 'he' is not a 'he' and the headline about a man having a baby is just a voyeuristic thing about a person who looks like a man having a baby and a story to sell papers. The gender thing as a gradient is so old.
posted by bluesky43 at 10:47 AM on July 26, 2008


if 'he' has a uterus than 'he' is not a 'he' and the headline about a man having a baby is just a voyeuristic thing about a person who looks like a man having a baby and a story to sell papers.

See, this is a great example of what I just said. This person's complaint is really about the press, but in expressing this, bluesky43 first and foremost makes a point of immediately undermining Beatie's identity.

I think that the public's subconscious fear of trans people is that of being tricked, or duped. I think it's a trait tied to our reproductive urge that trains us to regard these people with suspicion.

I'm not saying you don't "get it", bluesky. I'm just pointing out that we owe it to ourselves (not just trans people) to really scrutinize our reactions to these sorts of situations (since the media seems incapable of doing it for us).
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 11:11 AM on July 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


if 'he' has a uterus than 'he' is not a 'he'

*bangs head on table*

So my biologically and socially gendered female friends who have had hysterectomies are not "she"s?

How many times do we have to have the gender-is-a-social-construct conversation? Thomas Beatie says he is a man; he took surgical and hormonal steps to be perceived as a man; legally, he is a man; his community views him as a man. Except for the abstaining-from-sex part, he is not unlike the Ex-Women in Albania (and they didn't have surgery or hormone treatments).

And can we please please drop the "Think of the children!" shit? My own parents - my mother white, my father not - took three years of marriage to decide whether bringing a mixed-race child into the world (in the mid-1960s) would be fair to the child.

A little secret: if you're so concerned about the Beatie kid being traumatized by a society that will regard her and her family as freaks, then don't treat her and her family as freaks. Society is not some "over there" thing: it is you (and me, and everybody else), so if you decline to participate in its fuckedupedness, if you actively fight against it, then things change!
posted by rtha at 11:16 AM on July 26, 2008 [26 favorites]


rtha: So my biologically and socially gendered female friends who have had hysterectomies are not "she"s?

I'm not sure why you imagine this analogy is so devastating. I don't think anyone is arguing that a canary that loses its wings suddenly becomes a squirrel. It's still a canary. It just doesn't have wings anymore.
posted by RavinDave at 11:27 AM on July 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I really don't care whether this person identifies as a man, a woman or a hamster, but biologically speaking, a person with certain physical characteristics such as a vagina, a uterus and ovaries is a woman as far as I can see.


Sometimes, it's just not that simple.
posted by echolalia67 at 11:35 AM on July 26, 2008


Here's another way to put it: The squirrel is not a canary because the squirrel does not have wings. You have built yourself a false premise and a logical framework from with it could (poorly) be inferred that a canary without wings is indeed a squirrel.

And you are confusing Sex and Gender. Gender is socially constructed. How you ask? If gender roles were biologically created, how could you account for social differences in genders when there appears to be no biological difference. When you account for variance in Nature, there still appears to be variance that cannot be account for by biology. How come every human with XX chromosomal pairs don't all wear skirts, mate and bake pie? How come every human with XY chromosomal pairs doesn't wear pants, mate, and kill big animals? Because there are layers and nuance ontop of just the fact that some with XX and someone with XY are immediate Woman and Man.

Here is another fact to chew on: In a fetus with XY chromosomal pairs, around week 4 - 6, the gonads exist where the ovaries do in a female. In the presence of Androgen, what would have become the fallopian tubes instead become channels through which the gonads (now testicles) descend into what will eventually be the scrotum (tissue that would become labia majori). What would have been the clitoris in a female becomes the glans of the penis, surround the vas defrens. What becomes the prostrate (spongy tissue underneath the bladder with a sensitive nerve cluster) was what would be the gspot in a female.

What happens if Androgen is not produced? You get a fetus with a female phenotype but in a dna test has XY chromosome. What happens if there is a partial androgen release in a XX fetus? Possible a fetus which will develop a male phenotype (enlarged clitories, smaller breasts, facial hair) but also it could just be a neurological patterning shift. The brain becomes "male" while the body still falls under the female phenotype.

In short: there are a whole lot more columns than TWO involved in this discussion, you cannot make a definitive classification of "Man and Woman" (socially created gender terms), when we can't make a definitive classification of Male and Female.

Think about it. What is a human male? Someone with XY chromosomes? but they could have breasts. Fine, a male is someone who does not have a uterus. What about a female who was born without one? Is my friend Moji who was born with TWO uterus more female than a female with just one? And also does that mean those females aren't females because they can't have children (in some cultures in fact the answer is YES, and they are boundary crossers, and can exist and perform supernatural tasks because they are outside the binary cultural framework they live in).

So I am not surprised by this conversation as much, as people have been struggling to cope with the fact that there is no clear definition, no line, because everytime they try to draw one, it gets blurred again. And the depressing part is that each time someone has to go and redraw the line, usually the response is not "hey maybe there shouldn't be a line in the first place", it is "you, person who has blurred my line, is responsible for challenging my worldview and therefore you are unnatural, ungodly, etc. etc. etc.".

I apologize for what may be some armchair biology, but it was more meant to illustrate that the labeling of sexs and sex phenotypes is extremely hard, how can anyone add society and culture into the mix and think that it would someone be easier
posted by mrzarquon at 12:21 PM on July 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


Oh, for goodness sake. There are several points of view here, some of which are fine and some of which is stupid, but people are seriously overreacting to some of them.

Those who are saying that it is not, in fact, particularly surprising or newsworthy that someone born with a uterus and ovaries has had a child are entirely correct.

Those who are saying that this reveals, demonstrates, or presages interesting issues of gender and perception which are likely to become more and more complex and pressing as technology and definitions change are also entirely correct.

Those who are saying mazel tov and leaving it at that, likewise.

Those who are saying that this is sick, that the child is necessarily doomed to a life of suckitude, or that their heads have exploded in horrified bewilderment when presented with this fairly simple concept, are idiots.

But the only thing that makes no sense at all is why the people holding the first two, non-mutually-exclusive concepts appear to have started a bitter war with each other on this thread.
posted by kyrademon at 12:23 PM on July 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


I think the fundamental discomfort that people have with transgendered individuals is the fact that they don't fit into the neat little boxes that we use to define gender. Say all you want about steretyping, but this is how we as humans are wired to understand things. Our brain automatically categorizes information into categories called schemata - it's how we make sense of the world. And part of what we learn from a very young age is that there are only two categories of gender - boy and girl - and that everyone is either one or the other.

I consider myself a very tolerant and accepting person, but I will freely admit that transgendered individuals make me a little bit uncomfortable. I had a friend in college who self-identified as a woman (admittedly a gay woman who dressed in gender-neutral clothing and had rather "boyish" features), and transitioned over the past few years to being a man. I hadn't seen him in a while, heard through the grapevine about his progression and am very happy for him now that he feels comfortable in his gender. However, I saw him recently for the first time fully as a man, and I was taken aback. It is very difficult for my brain to fully wrap around the fact that "she" is now "he." I imagine that spending more time with him will cause this to be a non-issue.

So taking into consideration that it is difficult to understand the concept of someone changing genders, I think the thing about Beatie's situation that is hard to come to terms with is the fact that he seems to be checking both gender boxes. I am very happy for this new family, and looking at the linked photo from People, Beatie looks like he could be any new dad enamored with his newborn child. But, quite frankly, the situation is bizarre. I think you're lying to yourself if you don't at least for a millisecond think "hmm...really? whoa...that's...different" Even if you don't have a problem with it, even if you're super-happy for the family, it is okay to be taken aback by the situation and puzzle over it for a bit.
posted by radioamy at 12:27 PM on July 26, 2008


Alright. What blows my mind here is how many of us are unable to wrap our minds around the idea of gender—femaleness/maleness—being self-defined. It is less like, "who I am is different than who you are but the same," and more like, "all of us are unique."

Unique. It's simple. What kind of person am I? Ask me. After that, ask me again later. But taking for granted is what is happening that all of are the same and what more all the time.

Some of us the same. All the time. But only some of us.

The rest of us are who each of us is. And that is unique. Hooray humans! Sometimes weird sometimes ordinary but always unique.

Always.

Fluidity is such an available concept. Grasping it may start with questioning one's own sexual preferences and gender orientation. After all, are you sure you're how you are or you just used to taking it for granted?

Because when people have challenged me about who I am this is the first thing I toss back at them. And time after time, the honest amongst us have their minds blown.

Here in the future, I want the choice to one day be male and one day be female. I want to go back and forth freely. And if technology catches up to make this distinction more sharpened yet more available, well, count me in!

I say, as I always say, welcome to the future—because this is it!

And: Let the fun begin!
posted by humannaire at 12:31 PM on July 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Now for the real question:

If I wear this is it considered a dress? If a woman wears it, is it then a dress?
posted by mrzarquon at 12:44 PM on July 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whatever. Wake me up when someone has genetically modified their kid to be able to be superstrong or for flight or immortality.

Or when someone invents a new orifice or something.

This kinda seems like "been there, done that".
posted by nyxxxx at 1:17 PM on July 26, 2008


i think it's interesting from the perspective that a person who is confident in his identity as a man is also comfortable getting pregnant and giving birth. I think that's mad cool. I want that version of masculinity as the hegemony, plz!

I agree 200%.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:23 PM on July 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Whatever. Wake me up when someone has genetically modified their kid to be able to be superstrong or for flight or immortality.

Or when someone invents a new orifice or something.


That's it! Now we are talking!
posted by humannaire at 1:58 PM on July 26, 2008


Our brain automatically categorizes information into categories called schemata - it's how we make sense of the world. And part of what we learn from a very young age is that there are only two categories of gender - boy and girl - and that everyone is either one or the other.

Bingo! That's why the lack of a simple term to describe this situation is at the root of the problem we're having in this thread. Beatie is not a man, not a woman, not a male, not a female: we do not have a mutally-understood word with which to categorize Beatie.

Fluidity is such an available concept.

See above. Fluidity is peachy-keen, but our brains work by organizing our knowledge. Beatie is not going to succeed at defining man/woman/male/female to include both himself and child-bearing: the square peg is not going to fit in the round hole.

If transgendering is going to become common, we are going to need a new word.

Maybe it'll tie in nicely with the need to eliminate sex in language, ie. the use of "he/him/his/man" as a generic pronoun.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:10 PM on July 26, 2008


If humans would just stop communicating with one another we could get rid of so many problems.
posted by XMLicious at 3:47 PM on July 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gender is socially constructed.

Then why do people who want to change gender have to take drugs?

I'm not trying to be an ass here and I've got nothing against anyone ('cept Mrs. Conolly from 3rd grade but that's not important here), but I honestly don't see how people can argue that gender is a social construct. The chemistry of men and women are different.

What am I missing or not understanding?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:23 PM on July 26, 2008


Just to clarify because some commenters above seem to be intent on taking what I wrote the wrong way -- a 'he' is biologically incapable of having a child and this in no way implies that the parent in question is of a particular gender. I am perfectly comfortable with anyone's gender identity being whatever they want it to be irrespective of their body parts-- what I object to (and it would seem to me that many transgendered individuals might feel the same way) is the press sensationalizes and presents this individual as a male person (in the having only the male parts sense of the word) having a baby. This is biologically impossible - wouldn't 'transgendered' or something that makes clear the boundary is blurred be more appropriate? but I don't think the press can handle that level of subtlety.
posted by bluesky43 at 4:26 PM on July 26, 2008


Subtlety doesn't sell papers.
posted by hojoki at 4:30 PM on July 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe it'll tie in nicely with the need to eliminate sex in language, ie. the use of "he/him/his/man" as a generic pronoun.

There is no such need, and all of those but "man" also serve as unspecified-gender pronouns.
posted by oaf at 6:39 PM on July 26, 2008


Daddy, You've Been a Mother To Me
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:12 PM on July 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Daddy, You've Been a Mother To Me

ftw
posted by humannaire at 7:20 PM on July 26, 2008


Brandon Blatcher: What am I missing or not understanding?

See my above comment (not the kilt one) giving examples on why you can't even claim chemistry distinguishes between male and female, as different levels and exposure times to chemicals invitro can give someone with XX chromosomes attributes found in someone who has XY, etc.

As for why gender is a construct? Well do you really call a male dog a "man", would you argue that those words are interchangeable. It has a penis, it doesn't have a uterus, it doesn't have breasts.

If gender isn't a construct, why does definitions of it change between cultural groups. Wouldn't it mean that they are using their cultural knowledge to define the world around them. If the Man/Woman gender bifurcation wasn't created by western society that which most of us discussing this are from, how does that explain that there are cultures with a third sex/gender? Those groups have a vocabulary and framework in which to describe people who fall into those categories. We do not, so instead of a 3rd choice, you get pushed into finding the "closest" one.

And then there could be were the issue of chemicals come in. If you wont be let into gender group that you feel you belong to, taking chemicals and surgery will help you pass. It would be interesting to see the adaption rates of gender reassignment surgery to those people who already have a categorical label and social role, since they have a group to identify with that does not require such things.

And simply stating that Gender is a construct does not some how make it magically elastic. It is a product of a cultural body, and as such, even if science! challenges it, changing a construct takes a very very long time, because it is a foundation of how the society on a whole operates. It is one of those base assumptions that members of a society assume. For evidence, I give you this thread: people still discuss gender in terms solely of man/woman, while it has been discussed and shown that there is no actual SCIENCE behind those words (possibly statistics), and that those words mean different things in different cultures (and that they are not the ONLY two words and that this is MORE than two genders).
posted by mrzarquon at 7:49 PM on July 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


how does that explain that there are cultures with a third sex/gender?

Quick question, what cultures are these?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:00 PM on July 26, 2008


Quick question, what cultures are these?

Quick answer: Third gender.
posted by humannaire at 8:47 PM on July 26, 2008


Hmmm, fascinating, thanks for the link.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:32 PM on July 26, 2008


Am I the only one who persistently misreads their family name as the Beatles?
posted by joannemerriam at 10:40 PM on July 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ah, ya'll are separating the terms sex and gender, yes? You guys think that a person's sex may be determined at birth, but a person's gender can be more fluid, despite whatever sex they were both with. Hence the ability for gender to be social construct.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:16 AM on July 27, 2008


Ah, ya'll are separating the terms sex and gender, yes? You guys think that a person's sex may be determined at birth, but a person's gender can be more fluid, despite whatever sex they were both with. Hence the ability for gender to be social construct.

My friend, you are on the right path.
posted by humannaire at 8:11 AM on July 27, 2008


Can I have a transchocolate sugar cookie now?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:37 AM on July 27, 2008


Rather than encouraging the world to expand its definition of what it means to be a woman and expand the ways its acceptble to feel and act as a woman, we instead encourage the person to attempt to crudely conform their biology to society's framework.
jam, we do that, too. The two are not mutually exclusive.

I just don't see why it's seemingly so hard for some folks to understand that sex is a function of biology (plumbing, hormones, etc.) and gender is a function of society and identity, and while it's mighty convenient when the two are in tandem, they are not equivalent. As humannaire pointed out, many other cultures have a long tradition of recognizing that sex and gender are not the same.

And for tippiedog and anyone else who's curious, people with standard-issue female genitalia can stand and pee. It doesn't take a penis to do that. Some learn the technique, some use accessories marketed for women, some use the transgender-friendly pack and pee, but if you can stand, you can pee standing.
posted by notashroom at 10:58 AM on July 27, 2008


Yes, lots and lots of people with uteruses and ovaries give birth every day.

It is an unusual occurrence when men with uteruses and ovaries give birth. At this moment in history, all of the men with uteruses and ovaries who have given birth have been transmen.

It is not at all clear that that will always be the case, though--advances in transplant science certainly make it quite possible to imagine XY-chromosomed men born men choosing to surgically modify their reproductive systems. I imagine the first few cismen to do this will attract a bunch of media attention, just as Messrs. Rice and Beattie have done.

Science is awesome. Sometimes people's prejudices can't keep up.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:43 AM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jilder: "I really don't care whether this person identifies as a man, a woman or a hamster, but biologically speaking, a person with certain physical characteristics such as a vagina, a uterus and ovaries is a woman as far as I can see.

Let's look at this from the other side of things. If a woman suffers a life threatening reproductive cancer, and has her reproductive organs removed, by this logic she is no longer a woman. If the defining characteristics of feminity are the vagina, the uterus and the ovaries, then there are a whole lot of women out there that just don't fit that narrow definition any more. The meat is such a very small part of what makes up gender identity, and when you take away the meat you aren't taking away the gender.
"

Good points, as with what a lot of other people have said. I'm the first to admit that these are not issues that confront me on a daily basis in my life, so I'm at best hazy on all the associated information. The concept of separating sexuality from gender is something my mind is struggling to grasp, although it makes perfect sense in a front-brain way. Obviously, I have some learning to do here. This concept pretty much makes the words man, woman, male, female etc obsolete as I see it and this is perhaps what is so "awkward" about it for many of us - we feel the need to come up with words that categorise people and there are no words in existence that do so in these cases. To say "MAN HAS BABY" is clearly not accurate, but what would be accurate? I know that "PERSON HAS BABY" is hardly the stuff that sells newspapers and that's really what headlines are about.

My oh-so-vanilla world has really left me unprepared for how to think about this. I'll have to cogitate on it some more, I think. Thanks to those here who kept the discourse at a level that helps understanding rather than building more barriers.
posted by dg at 9:23 PM on July 27, 2008


I'm the first to admit that these are not issues that confront me on a daily basis in my life

This is key. On a daily basis, the terms "man/male/woman/female" have simple and directly observable meanings. It's going to be pretty tough to appropriate those terms for use in a transgendered context, at least until such time the transgendered are as dirt-common as the regular-sexed sort of folk.

It is much easier to come up with new terms for this new situation than it is to try to redefine terms that have had a static existence for many generations.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:56 PM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, except that new terms for anything these days are often seen as just more PC bullshit, so there are some barriers to overcome in getting a new nomenclature accepted. I'm not sure that it needs to wait until the non-binary-gendered (?) are more common, because the current language used to describe gender and sexuality will always put people in a pigeon-hole one way or another. It doesn't matter how many terms you come up with, there will always be those who don't fit any of them and you would end up with hundreds of words that all describe a particular flavour of "person", leading to more exclusion, not less. I don't have a solution, of course, but it's an interesting conundrum - how do you describe a whole continuum of variables with the same terms? (interesting to me, I mean - to lots of people wrongly defined by the current words, it's tragic, I guess).

Even then, I don't know that you help much by defining things more accurately anyway - sometimes, that just makes it easier for people to reject them. We're not a race that's good at accepting differences.
posted by dg at 1:31 AM on July 28, 2008


fff, we have "transwoman", "transman" and "genderqueer". I only use transwoman to refer to myself when I specifically want to highlight my trans status (as in my profile here); the rest of the time, it's "woman". There's a whole boatload of extra terminology if you want to get more detailed, too: I could say I'm a "pre-operative transwoman", as distinct from a post-operative transwoman or a non-operative transwoman; I'm "post-transition". Mostly, though, I'm a woman.

I'm unclear as to what new words you require.

As dg points out, as well, having a specific, exclusionary (or even explanatory) term for a subgroup often leads to (or is indicative of), well, exclusion. I am a woman, and only my doctors need to know that I'm trans as well.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:31 AM on July 28, 2008


I think the issue is, and perhaps what fff was trying to get at, that whether it's right or wrong and whether it's discriminatory or oppressive or not, people who do not regard "man" and "transman" as meaning the same thing, nor "woman" and "transwoman" as the same thing - or even people who are simply undecided in the matter - are going to regard statements like "pregnant man gives birth" referring to a transman as an attempt to force someone else's definition of "man" on them.

For someone coming from that perspective, or the position of being undecided, those sort of statements seem like Orwellian newspeak. As opposed to an attempt to persuade anyone that Beatie is male in the same way a regularly-sexed man is, it tries to force the interlocutor to make that assumption via the terminology used. Which is polemical and arm-twisting and which many people will not take kindly to, even people who might otherwise support transgender issues and are comfortable with TG individuals.

P.S. I'm not saying that advancement of transgender issues is somehow tyrannical or oppressive by mentioning Orwell, I'm simply saying that whether it's conscious or intentional this is the same technique of leveraging the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis that Orwell demonstrated in his novels.
posted by XMLicious at 8:49 AM on July 28, 2008


dg, just a thought, here. You wrote, "wait until the non-binary-gendered (?) are more common." Not trying to pick on you at all, but that sounds to me like an assumption that binary gender classification and identity are valid and expected, and only those who fall outside of the traditional classifications have an interest in a non-binary classification system. Doing away with binary gender classification is about the system itself and not about the identities within it.

The idea underlying the efforts to do away with the binary gender system is that it benefits all of us, regardless of whether we identify as cisgendered, transgendered, transsexual, genderqueer, intersexed, or some other descriptor. Doing away with binary classifications is about freeing everyone from the two little boxes, not about another way to make anyone who's not cisgendered into "other."
posted by notashroom at 9:16 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


ArmyOfKittens: If you were a non-operative transwoman, would you have to be fixed?
posted by djfiander at 10:37 AM on July 28, 2008


How someone would like to be treated or perceived is not the same as what their genetic code is. People are capable of having babies based on their code.

Gender is trickier, but the problem is pretty clear: Someone born with baby having code has a different life experience than someone born with a different code. Someone born with one code and passing as the other has a third experience. It's unlikely that these three can be conflated into two.

We are not defined by our desires, but by our circumstance. Not that the definition is very valuable, but there it is.
posted by ewkpates at 12:45 PM on July 28, 2008


How do you mean? Many transwomen don't have bottom surgery, either by choice (it doesn't fit their view of how they want to be, or it does but they aren't satisfied with current procedures) or because they can't afford it (in countries with punitive health systems). There's no judgement attached to the label as far as I'm concerned.

small yay: by the end of this year I won't be pre-operative any more. woo! I can start life! and go swimming :p

On a different note, while I appreciate the newspeak parallels drawn I would submit that most minorities attempt to redefine the language used by the majority to describe them; it just so happens that trans and queer people in general are on the wrong side of terminology that many people consider to be inviolable. I don't think there's any solution that's not going to piss people off in some way or other. Particularly not when headline writers for mainstream news sources (to whom trans people are a gift from the gods, because we're so inherently controversial) are brought into the mix.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:59 PM on July 28, 2008


(ack! preview! "how do you mean?" addressed to djfiander, not ewkpates. also, I wouldn't describe it as a "small yay" but an exceptionally large one.)
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:00 PM on July 28, 2008


Gender is trickier, but the problem is pretty clear: Someone born with baby having code has a different life experience than someone born with a different code. Someone born with one code and passing as the other has a third experience. It's unlikely that these three can be conflated into two.

This is iffy ground. Short version: defining gender by experience erases outliers. For example, even specifically excluding people who were born externally male and transitioned to female after their birth, it's hard to agree on a universal definition of "woman" once all the different ways a person can grow are accounted for.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:06 PM on July 28, 2008


Also (and this will be my last post to this thread for at least eight million years, I promise), these three recent posts to Questioning Transphobia are a decent introduction to some of the thornier issues being debated in trans circles at the moment, some of which we're half-touching on here, should anyone drop by the arse-end of this thread and be interested.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:11 PM on July 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


notashroom: "dg, just a thought, here. You wrote, "wait until the non-binary-gendered (?) are more common." Not trying to pick on you at all, but that sounds to me like an assumption that binary gender classification and identity are valid and expected, and only those who fall outside of the traditional classifications have an interest in a non-binary classification system...""

As I often do, I've communicated poorly there. I didn't intend to say (and don't feel) that any classification of people based on any particular characteristic is valid. I was just trying to describe those people who fall outside that "binary" male OR female categorisation in a non-insulting way. Clumsy, perhaps, but certainly not ill-intended.

I'm very much against Political Correctness (especially when used with capitals), because it's always a lip-service thing to give the appearance of being fair and balanced when, in fact, it's really about coming up with new ways of labelling people. On the odd occasion, a better term for something has resulted (Chair instead of Chairman is one), but usually, it just makes things worse and the PC terms themselves become new ways to put people down. Gender/sexuality is an unbelievably complicated thing to label, it seems and there are no clear traits that makes one person or another any particular thing. I guess a nomenclature similar to that used to describe various species could be developed, but that would just result in different arbitrary decisions being made.

While I doubt that many will agree, I think we already have a word that describes all people (although I'm not sure of the scientific correctness of using it this way) - man. We are all part of the race of Man and the words we use within that to describe the various permutations are simply social constructs. If we called everyone man/he/him, we would avoid labelling people based on any individual characteristic, although it would take generations to change the way people think. Don't even get me started on the damage that Ms has done to equality in society.
posted by dg at 2:07 PM on July 28, 2008


We are all part of the race of Man and the words we use within that to describe the various permutations are simply social constructs.

What specifically is it you are meaning by race, dg?
posted by humannaire at 4:23 PM on July 31, 2008


Don't even get me started on the damage that Ms has done to equality in society.

Please, don't. I've watched the adoption of Ms. go from a radical position to the standard in twenty years, and I'm personally thrilled.
posted by desuetude at 5:10 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


humannaire, I think of the "race of man" as being all humans (I'm no scientist, so shoot me if I'm wrong). It seems like the only way to avoid putting people in boxes and labelling them according to some arbitrary criteria is to put them all in one box and not separate them any finer than that. Why do you ask? I thought the sentiment was clear, but I'd be happy to stand corrected.

desuetude, the Ms title is just a finer way of labelling women. There used to be Miss for unmarried females and Mrs for married ones. Now we have Miss for unmarried (usually very young) females, Mrs for married females and Ms for those who are either unmarried or married or not prepared to be labelled on either side of that (artificial) divide. What's really changed? Why do we need, in a supposedly civilised society, to put additional labels in front of people's names to denote their place in society? Why can't people just be called by their name?
posted by dg at 1:46 AM on August 1, 2008


Ms. seems to me to be a fine, all-encompassing label (for women) that does not depend on anyone knowing, caring, or putting emphasis on the woman's marital status. Like the way Mr. works for men. Mr. doesn't care if the guy is married or not, or if he's 17 or 70. Why not do away with Miss and Mrs. and just have Ms.?

(Though I can kind of grok you about just calling people by name - I grew up calling older adults who were not related by blood or marriage (but who were family friends) "aunt" or "uncle" + whatever their name was. Other friends my age grew up calling their parents' friends Mr. or Ms/Miss/Mrs. Name. That formality seems less common now, at least that I'm aware of. Still, though, if we're keeping Mr. for men, then the default for women should be Ms., at least in my idealized world.)

(Oh, and the thing about race of man? Really don't want to get into right at the moment - I'm barely caffeinated - but the word "man" to me - and to, I dunno, every person I know - is certainly not gender-neutral. Having the linguistic default for "people" or "human beings" set to a gender-specific term does really weird things to people's assumptions and psyches. So let's not do that anymore, okay? Awesome.)
posted by rtha at 6:07 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


desuetude, the Ms title is just a finer way of labelling women. There used to be Miss for unmarried females and Mrs for married ones. Now we have Miss for unmarried (usually very young) females, Mrs for married females and Ms for those who are either unmarried or married or not prepared to be labelled on either side of that (artificial) divide. What's really changed? Why do we need, in a supposedly civilised society, to put additional labels in front of people's names to denote their place in society? Why can't people just be called by their name?

It's fine to hold the opinion that titles are unnecessary, but meanwhile, such conventions are still upheld socially for a multitude of reasons, not the least being that this convention has been in place for thousands of years and is commonplace across most cultures.

"What's really changed" is, in a small but meaningful way, is the business world. When I was growing up (late 70s-80s), unmarried women were professionally called Miss. Even if they were forty. This is ridiculous -- if men are old enough to work, they're a Mr., regardless of whether they live at home with their parents, on a yacht, or go home to four children and a wife. And yes, it certainly did dawn on me as I grew up that whether or not a woman was married was apparently so important that it changed her title. Nowadays, in the United States, Ms. is the default professional title for women. Simple. Personal life neatly divorced from the question of adult status.

(Apologies for the US-centric-ness. I know Mrs. as a signifier of "respected adult woman" is more common when I work with my European colleagues, and it certainly doesn't offend me in that context.)
posted by desuetude at 6:56 AM on August 1, 2008


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