April 08, 2008

Men Having Babies...!?!

I'm sure by now most of you have heard about the man, once a woman, now having a baby. If you haven't, the story in a nutshell is that a transgender man became a man about nine years ago by undergoing extensive hormone treatments and sexual reassignment surgery to remove her breasts and possibly add some body parts. The man, however, kept all of her reproductive organs. The hormone treatments allowed her to grow facial hair and soon the woman looked like a man. Later, the woman legally changed his sex to that of a man, meaning his driver's license and passport all identify him as a male. The man marries a woman, and because he is legally a man, there was no problem getting a marriage license (at least that's what the media is saying, but I can't confirm any or all of the above). They decide to have a family by using artificial insemination but discover the wife cannot conceive. The husband with all his female reproductive organs in tact eventually conceives and is now expecting a healthy baby due in July.

By no means do I mean to trivialize the emotional pain or the steps taken by a transgender person to finalize the sexual reassignment process, but that's generally what happens in most cases. While in law school I wrote a legal article on this very topic and the legal aspects of it all interests me greatly so when I hear things like this in the news, I'm pretty interested. So today, another story pops up on one of the news channels and while I was watching a the segment on it, in walks Oldest who decides to plop himself right next to me on the couch. The first thing he sees on the screen is a big photograph of man, with his shirt off, and his hand on his very pregnant belly. His reaction, "WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THAT!? Men can't have babies!!!"

What do you say to a six year old about this topic? I consider myself to be pretty liberal, but I must admit, I'm not sure exactly how I feel about all of this and I definitely do not know what to say to my six year old that analyzes every single thing almost like an adult. (I must say, the boy is pretty smart which can be good and not so good sometimes). While I'm thinking about what to say, he came up with the perfect answer, the picture must be fake. So I jump right in and say, yep, they just wanted to see what a man would like if he had a pregnant belly and I change the channel. Oldest decided that he didn't think it was funny because men are not supposed to have babies.

I'm not sure if that was the right answer, but for now, it was. I'm not ready to address these issues with him yet. Just the other day while I was looking for socks for Daughter, Oldest saw the section on training bras. Of course he had a lot of questions all while he took them off the hook and examined them. "Why are they so small?" "Why are they in the girls section?" "Do little girls wear these things too?" "Does Daugther need one??" Good grief, I was out there quick.

These conversations will come soon enough but I'm going to wait. Kids these days are growing up much faster than we did and are exposed to or discussing issues that we never did at that age. Training bras, maybe that's okay. But transgender males having babies, not so much.


Justice Fergie said...

it's a whole new world, isn't it?
i'm in no hurry for my kids to start asking questions like that.

our parents had it easy: no transgender pregnancies in the news; no fear of bullies beating up your child and posting in on MySpace; no national security threat level codes to be aware of...we need a time machine :)

Lori said...

I think you handled that well. Kudos.

PS - In case you're wondering (as I usually do when I get comments from new readers!), I found your blog through Nicole (The 3 of Us).

Anonymous said...


I didn't even think of dealing with questions from the kids - and I count myself lucky that they didn't see a pic. I would probably not be able to leave it at "the picture is a fake" (NOT that I think it was the wrong decision to do that...I just don't think I personally would be able to leave it at that, even though that was definitely a great solution for a 6 year old). I would probably end up giving some longwinded explanation that would only confuse the bejesus out of them.

I had a few transgender parents over the years (all men to women)of kids I counseled - they were all teenage boys (my kids) and they really had issues with their fathers now being women. I don't have any problems with people making that decision, but I DID really feel badly for these adolescents struggling with their own identity issues and then having that to deal with. I actually think this particular case is much easier...that's all their child will ever know, so I don't think it will be a big deal unless society MAKES it an issue.

Anonymous said...

Testing 1-2-3 -- I love this blog but haven't been able to comment!

Dee said...

I'm pretty liberal too, and I wonder, how will the parents explain it to their daughter? I was also concerned about how the family as a whole, and the child, as she grows up will be able to handle the exposure and prejudice they will surely face.

PamperingBeki said...

This whole story freaks me out!!

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