The transition was messy. Creative juices are flowing late today!
How I dealt with gender disappointment during pregnancy when finding out I was having a boy.
Also, he knew he might one day want to nurse a baby. So he wears two compression-tank binds made by a company called Underworks beneath his shirt. His transformation is as much social as it is physical. It's not just that Evan looks like a guy.
For nearly a dozen years, the world has responded to him as a guy. At first, particularly when he was with other men who didn't know he was trans, this made him nervous--like he would somehow say the wrong thing and out himself. But now he's comfortable. To medical professionals, he's a trans guy, but to the rest of the world and to himself, he's just a guy. In , when Evan made an appointment with his primary-care physician at the Boston LGBT health center Fenway Health, he was the first prospective birth father his doctor had seen.
Several years earlier, a few trans men who, like my brother, had undergone hormone treatment but kept their reproductive organs, had begun consulting physicians about pregnancy and speaking openly about wanting to give birth.
In , Thomas Beatie posed for People magazine, bare-chested with a rotund belly, and went on Oprah to talk about his pregnancy. Trans men began to trickle into fertility clinics more frequently. When Andy Inkster was turned away from a Massachusetts clinic in because he was told he was "too masculine" to have a baby, he sued for gender discrimination. The case settled a few years later; Inkster sought out another clinic and later gave birth to a daughter. What happened to Inkster is not uncommon.
Medical care of all kinds is complicated for trans Americans. Roughly 1 in 5 have been turned away by a medical professional at some point, according to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Half of them reported that they'd had to teach the medical professionals they visited how to treat them.
That's why, until my brother tried to get pregnant, he mostly avoided doctors. There is very little research about trans pregnancies. One of the only medical papers addressing the topic was written in by the University of California, San Francisco's Dr.
They noted that, in form and function, getting pregnant as a trans man is not that different than getting pregnant as a woman. Most of the time, trans men stop taking testosterone, and their bodies begin ovulating again. Testosterone doesn't necessarily preclude a pregnancy. Some trans men may have unintentional pregnancies while taking it. If their partner is biologically male, trans men may try to conceive without medical intervention. My brother has a female partner, so he inseminated using donor sperm.
It took a while. The first time Evan tried, five years ago, he was unsuccessful. He took a break before starting again three years ago. He stopped his T shots, Kowalik prescribed two medications to trigger ovulation and monitored Evan's body throughout the process to get the timing right.
That's expensive, but it can cost much more. If home insemination doesn't work, trans men may turn to other fertility treatments, like in vitro fertilization. If the physical process of getting pregnant is fairly straightforward, transgender birth parents often face more challenges when it comes to mental health.
Obedin-Maliver and Makadon referred to two recent studies that highlighted psychological issues involved with trans pregnancies. In both cases, the sample sizes were too small to be statistically relevant, but significant themes emerged. For one, the birth parents were often lonely. And they reported complex feelings about their gender identity. My brother has a good friend, also trans, who'd gotten pregnant a year earlier. He'd had a rough pregnancy because he felt a traumatizing disconnect between his masculinity and the female attributes of his body.
He took medical leave from work for much of the time and was relieved to restart testosterone immediately after his child's healthy birth. I spoke to another trans dad who had given birth to his son at age He said the pregnancy catapulted him into depression.
Evan didn't have this experience. When I called Obedin-Maliver to discuss the research, she cautioned against drawing any conclusions about trans pregnancies based on a few conversations. Trans men compare notes among themselves and seek support and advice on the Internet. It has about 1, members. A list of guidelines spells out who can join the group: This means that my self-identity conforms to the gender of my biological sex.
I was born a girl, and I feel like a woman. My brother turns to this group when he has questions about chest-feeding--the term trans men have adopted for nursing--or choosing a trans-friendly pediatrician. For many members, it is a primary source of community. One trans dad told me he believes he would have killed himself during the early months of his pregnancy if he hadn't found friends through the group.
Just how many trans people have given birth? I asked Makadon, who is also the director of education and training at Fenway Institute, a division of Fenway Health. He couldn't even guess, but he said he expected to see the numbers rise based on the increasing number of trans patients coming to the clinic. Fenway currently sees more than 2, of them, a figure that has doubled in less than a decade.
He said that, as he visits hospitals across the country, he hears a lot of stories about health providers treating pregnant trans men. As doctors prescribe hormones, it is becoming standard practice for them to talk with patients about reproduction. Although there's no data to suggest that regular testosterone treatments will prevent trans men from growing healthy eggs later, some of them elect to do this before starting testosterone treatment.
He threw up constantly. Normally, Evan worked until 7 each day, came home for dinner and then answered a few more emails before bed. But once he was pregnant, his body stopped cooperating. By November, he could tell his supervisor had started to wonder why he was "slacking off.
During his next trip to his company's Oxford headquarters, Evan scheduled a meeting with the woman in charge of human resources. That morning, he found himself in an office with an open plan; even the conference rooms had glass on three sides. He had just vomited in the bathroom. He tried to fight his nausea as he saw the HR lead approach. She was a short woman with a high voice and a warm demeanor who, Evan thought, was more or less his age. He straightened his tie and followed her into an exposed conference room.
Evan took a moment to center himself, to quell his anxiety. There would never be an easy time for this conversation. He had to get it out. He told the woman he wanted to share some personal information. Paperwork, according to my brother, is how many transgender people are inadvertently outed in the workplace. An employer will send a letter to Social Security or to the Internal Revenue Service to verify a new hire's personal information; the agency will respond that the wrong gender has been listed.
Evan's friends call this a "no-match letter. Maybe this woman had known he was trans all along, he thought. It turned out she hadn't. She nodded as he spoke and didn't seem fazed. She asked why my brother was bringing it up. Then, bit by bit, her face broke into a smile. She told him about her two little girls and how wonderful parenthood was. My brother sat there with her, talking about spit-up and dance recitals, and he remembers feeling like part of a club he'd always looked into from the outside.
The normal things that happen to normal parents would be his things, he thought. For the most part, this is how it went when my brother told people he was expecting. It usually took them a few minutes. Then, as best they knew how, they said supportive, kind things. Our mother started knitting a sweater for the baby. His dermatologist said, "That makes all the sense in the world.
This positive attitude is less surprising when you consider that my brother didn't tell many people he didn't know well. He didn't need to. Even at full term, he never looked pregnant. He looked like a guy with a beer belly. He wore collared shirts to work, often with sweater-vests, and when he couldn't button the shirts any longer, he bought bigger ones. When his pants stopped buttoning, he wore them lower and got suspenders.
No one rubbed his belly, asked when he was due or commented that he was carrying the baby low so it must be a boy. He took a few outfits to the counter. Evan opened his wallet, and the woman behind the register noticed the small ultrasound snapshot he kept tucked inside. She looked at his belly, and smiled at him. His blood ran hot. Evan's midwife was Clare Storck. Really, that's her name. She'd been catching babies for five years at a practice attached to Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, but she'd been working with expectant mothers for most of her adult life as a doula.
My brother was her first male birth parent. When Evan arrived at the midwifery center for his first appointment, he filled out an intake form, but the receptionist had trouble entering his information: This was a problem throughout the pregnancy--medical forms and insurance claims are not set up to allow people like Evan to be honest about their medical needs.
At first, he fought this at every turn. When his health insurance refused to cover his pregnancy test because he was male, he spent several hours explaining his situation to a representative, waiting on hold and explaining it again. She was able to override the system and get the cost reimbursed, but he had to call back and do the same thing every time he had an appointment. Eventually, Evan decided it wasn't worth the effort to fight weekly for coverage.
He called his insurer and asked that his gender be changed to female. At the end of the day, it was just frustrating to get denial after denial of services," Evan said. Despite the initial software limitation, my brother got excellent care from the midwifery practice at Mount Auburn. Practitioners had received some training from Makadon, who had visited recently from Fenway to lead a grand rounds--an hour-long lecture open to anyone on staff at the hospital--on trans births.
They shared notes on Evan's preferred gender pronouns and terms for his body, and he had regular appointments with Storck, who listened to his baby's heartbeat, checked in to see how he was feeling and referred him to an acupuncturist when he developed back pain. Pregnancy can be uncomfortable enough without adding these symptoms!
Buy a 16 ounce water bottle or special "water glass". This will accomplish several things - you'll be sure to get up and stretch every half hour, you'll remind yourself to drink, and you'll increase how much you drink every day. Fill two one-gallon containers with water every morning and put them in the fridge. Make a goal of finishing both before bedtime. Cut out all other beverages teas or sodas, for instance until you finish the water.
Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, berries and melons to help meet your daily water requirements. Even though you need to drink all that water - don't drink water with meals. Water will dilute the food in your stomach and may interfere with your body's ability to absorb the nutrients it needs from the foods you eat. Keep track of the amount of water as you drink it every day to ensure that you're drinking the water you need.
I found it much easier to keep up with my water intake during the workday than it was during the weekend. I found that if I didn't write down the glasses of water as I filled them during the day I'd loose track - and simply not get enough water for that day. Remember, coffee, soda even diet sodas , tea and juice are not good substitutes for water! If you have an aversion to water, try adding lemon, lime, or unsweetened cranberry juice to your water glass. Most women don't know that some herbal teas can affect your pregnancy and the baby.
Herbal teas might seem like a good option - but check ingrediants with your ob before you drink herbal teas. You should be careful of your source of water. There are some contaminants found in water that, if taken in excess could be dangerous to you and your baby. You should have your tap water tested if you live in an older home, or if there's a chance that your home has lead pipes.
If you don't want to purchase filtered bottled water, you can invest in a faucet filter, or a Brita filter that you can keep in the refrigerator.
Water coolers just like the ones seen at the office! The information on this website is designed for educational purposes only. The information is NOT intended to be a substitute for medical care. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have.
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