The Pregnant Man

Have you seen pictures of The Pregnant Man?

He's cute. Friendly, open face. Nicely toned arms. Buff chest...and...a swollen belly, covered in unmistakably male belly hair. An unmistakably unbalanced, shocking image.

In case you didn't see Oprah yesterday, this is no man in an Empathy Belly. The short explanation is that "he" is transgendered, a biological woman who went through most of the steps to become an anatomically-correct man, except that he kept his uterus. So he can and did get pregnant, through at-home artificial insemination. His name is Thomas, he's 34, married to a woman named Nancy, who had a hysterectomy and can no longer have children. They live in Oregon. Their baby -- a girl -- is due in July.

Maybe I'm in the minority, but I don't find this gross. As Thomas says, "The desire to have a child is neither a male or female desire. It's a human desire." Sure, it's fascinating to see a pregnant man. However, to me, their decision to have a baby is no more weird than couples having babies in families that follow religious mandates that women should obey men or and girls over 12 should wear black veils. "Different is normal," says Thomas. "It's love that makes a family." Good for Thomas and Nancy.

But their situation does raise all sorts of work-family balance issues. Will Thomas take maternity or paternity leave, or both? What does it feel like to be a man having a baby? How on earth is he finding pregnancy clothes appropriate for the office and elsewhere? Will Thomas, Nancy and their daughter face gender bias at work, on the playground, when they go to find good childcare and a pediatrician? Will this inspire more transgendered men to have babies, and turn our ideas of mother and fatherhood upside down? And of course -- what does this mean for innovations in breastfeeding, since we know from prior discussions that men can breastfeed.

What's your reaction? Do you find The Pregnant Man strange, provocative, disturbing, enlightened -- all of the above? Guys, do you ever seriously wonder what it would be like to be pregnant?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  April 4, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All , Moms in the News
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I don't find it gross, or even newsworthy, but why a woman would become a man, and then perform the most female of functions is beyond me. Biologically, the "man" here is genetically a woman, so this isn't even the case of a pregnant man. "He" is really "she."

Posted by: babsy1 | April 4, 2008 7:03 AM

Um. She has a uterus. She's having a baby. She's not a man. She's a woman who added a penis. I feel sorry for the child, who will always be viewed as an oddity. I don't know if I find it gross, though I guess I question her motives. It's like she wants the best of both worlds or something.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 4, 2008 7:21 AM

why is it wrong to want the best of both worlds?

Posted by: leslie4 | April 4, 2008 7:25 AM

It isn't wrong to want the best of both worlds, though it's difficult and sometimes impossible to attain such a goal. (Like the myth of "having it all".) I guess there's nothing wrong with someone who looks like a man and self-identifies as a man -- or even an actual man -- wanting to be pregnant and give birth (obviously by c-section). I think the consequences/burden of the decision this woman has made will ultimately be shouldered by the child. Would you want the notoriety?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 4, 2008 7:43 AM

I think it's interesting, and I think it's great that this couple can have a kid, since his wife is unable to have a child. It's no more "gross" than fertility treatments, sperm/egg donors, or surrogate mothers. Unusual, yes, but that's about it.

Posted by: woshicara | April 4, 2008 8:00 AM

I don't know that they necessarily want the notoreity -- they just want a child. His wife had had a hysterectomy, so this was the only way they could have a biological child.

I certainly don't find it gross, although the pictures are definitely weird.

BTW, same old Laura here -- I registered for another group, and that changed my userID somehow.

Posted by: laura33 | April 4, 2008 8:00 AM

It is gross and stupid.

"What does it feel like to be a man having a baby?"

She is not a man. No Y chromosome, not a man, period.

Posted by: mucus99 | April 4, 2008 8:07 AM

I wish everybody would quit calling her a "Pregnant Man". She's a woman who had her breasts removed and a penis attached. I guess it's her right to get pregnant, but I don't think I'd be parading myself on Oprah. Maybe she needs the money.

Posted by: Retrovirus | April 4, 2008 8:15 AM

I saw the show. There was no genital surgery. The small penis is a result of taking testosterone.

Posted by: jackdmom | April 4, 2008 8:20 AM

Laura -- If they didn't want notoriety, why appear on Oprah? Plenty of men (or women who dress like men) have pot bellies. Why not go that route and avoid the tabloids?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 4, 2008 8:21 AM

I don't know that I find this "gross", but I do think it's stretching things to call Thomas a "pregnant man". Biologically, he's not a man. (I'll use the male pronoun because it seems to fit better than the female one.) Thomas has the female reproductive organs, including a vagina, uterus and one fallopian tube. Thomas does not have a penis; in response to the testosterone therapy, Thomas' clitoris grew to the size of a small penis. Thomas claims he and Nancy can have intercourse, but of course he doesn't urinate through the penis/enlarged clitoris, there's no semen, etc.

Plus as has been pointed out above, Thomas has only the female chromosomes, not male. The male chromosomes come from the anonymous sperm donor. Biologically, the anonymous donor is the "father" and Thomas is the "mother".

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 4, 2008 8:26 AM

I think this "man's" pregnancy makes a mockery of motherhood. If he really felt he was a man in a woman's body, then why keep the most womanly parts? I don't really get it at all.

More importantly, however, I question the testosterone treatments that made him a "him." I know the obstetrician said that the testosterone was stopped two years before pregnancy, but there is no precedent for this, so it's really unknown what sort of effects this will have on the child.

Last of all, I think it's unfair of the parents. The baby is born into a freak show, really.

It's fine to change your gender...have at it (even though I'm not buying it in this case). But to bring a child into the world this way, I really question this person's judgment.

Posted by: readerny | April 4, 2008 9:05 AM

Sure, scientifically and socially, it raises some interesting questions. But for me, the most salient fact is that this baby will be born to a couple that desperately and deeply wants it (unlike the 50% of American pregnancies that are unplanned). That is almost certainly a better indicator of the child's future health & happiness than whether Dad has a penis.

Posted by: LucyPorter | April 4, 2008 9:11 AM

I see no problem with any of this. Yes, he is a man -- he's been living as a man for years, he feels like he's a man, he looks like a man, so he is a man who unfortunately was born into the wrong body.
Second, when the baby is born, the world will see him as the father and his wife as the mother. There will be no "freak show." And he went on Oprah because, as the hyperlinked article showed, he was treated in extremely cruel and discriminatory ways by the medical profession -- and by his and his wife's relatives. He clearly wants to help the world understand and appreciate the choice he and his wife made. Oprah's acceptance of him and his wife certainly helps in that direction.
What's interesting, from a purely psychological point of view, is whether he will feel more like the father or the mother when the baby is born. But maybe that's irrelevant. Being a father or a mother is also nowhere near as rigid as it used to be.

Posted by: OMGalmost53 | April 4, 2008 9:15 AM

I'm bummed that this is the article that was picked up from the newspaper it was first reported in, and that the story of Larry King get shot and killed in school was completely overlooked because everyone is weirded out by someone being pregnant.

Posted by: capecodner424 | April 4, 2008 9:18 AM

As a woman frankly I'm offended ....

This is not a pregnant man ...

Posted by: letsplay2jaj | April 4, 2008 9:23 AM

Thank you, OMGalmost53! In my opinion, the only "freak show" here is the disgusting and hateful reactions from the medical community, their family, and others.

He's a man who went to extraordinary lengths to change his physiology so that it accurately reflected his gender, but decided not to undergo one of the most radical medical procedures and have his uterus removed. Good thing he did, because it turns out that he needed it. I see absolutely nothing wrong with this, and I bet they'll make fantastic parents.

Posted by: jbs280 | April 4, 2008 9:28 AM

Hmm, sounds like the pregnant man is actually a woman. My only concern is whether her hormone treatments/hormone levels will have any effect on her child's health. I didn't see the show, but was that addressed?

Posted by: opcd | April 4, 2008 9:30 AM

I believe the technical name for the operation that the "father" had is call an addedictomy.

Posted by: DandyLion | April 4, 2008 9:34 AM

Sorry, I don't buy this either. Pregnancy involves a uterus. Uterus=female. I don't see why that is so hard to understand. Eliminate all traces of female traits except reproductive organs and that makes you a man? Nice try.

Posted by: sigurdvalhalla | April 4, 2008 9:40 AM

Ironically, capecodner424, the underlying issues are the same: respect for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people. Very, very sad story.

-------------------------------------

"I'm bummed that this is the article that was picked up from the newspaper it was first reported in, and that the story of Larry King get shot and killed in school was completely overlooked because everyone is weirded out by someone being pregnant.

Posted by: capecodner424 | April 4, 2008 09:18 AM "

Posted by: atb2 | April 4, 2008 9:43 AM

First, "she" is legally a "he". Not a "she". Allowed to use men's facilities, change in men's locker rooms, not allowed the reverse. As for the genetic argument, it's bull. All humans start their genetic life as a female. So, if you go back far enough, I'm just as much woman as everyone else in this world (I'm male, if you hadn't already guessed.) This is an interesting thread, but I wonder why people believe this child will be stigmatized for life. If you saw he and his wife and child walking down the street, it wouldn't even occur to you that he may have given birth to his daughter. You'd assume his wife bore their child. Do often look around at families and ask yourself, "I wonder if she used to be a man?", or "he must have been a woman." I say good for him for having the confidence to realize happiness through such a difficult idea: that you as a person are trapped in the wrong sex. Forget being gay or straight, think about being trapped in a body which you know to be wrong.

Posted by: xenocyclus1 | April 4, 2008 9:49 AM

OMGalmost53: "...he looks like a man, so he is a man..."

You do realize that very few men look like they have a vagina and no testicles, right?

On the exterior of his body, the top half looks like a man, with facial hair, a flat chest, etc.

On the exterior of his body, the bottom half apparently looks very much like a woman, except for the enlarged clitoris that supposedly could be conceived to look like a penis.

And on the interior of his body, he looks very much like a woman, with a uterus, fallopian tube, etc. but no testicles, prostate, vas deferens, or other parts unique to the male. Plus all the chromosomes that are female vice male.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 4, 2008 9:52 AM

I understand that Thomas wishes to self identify as a man, and that she's legally won the right to use men's bathrooms and so on. But she is biologically a woman. Just because you want something really really really badly doesn't mean it happens.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 4, 2008 9:55 AM

xenocyclus1: "All humans start their genetic life as a female"

Excuse me? In honor of Leslie's alma mater, to quote the Harvard University Gazette (http://www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/1999/02.11/femaledevel.html)

"It's an old idea: embryos develop as females until and unless they receive specific genetic instructions to become males. Now, biologists at Harvard University have proved this to be wrong, at least for mice.

"It's really nonsense to imagine that making a female is a passive event," says Andrew McMahon, professor of molecular and cellular biology.
...
Mice and humans start out having both male and female reproductive systems, and both have master genes that guide their development. In females, the gene is called Dax-1; in males, it's SRY, a gene on the Y chromosome.

"It looks like a battle occurs between the male and the female gene," McMahon says. "The winner determines sex."

Wnt-4 is a leading general on the female side. When it functions normally, the gene suppresses the male sex system by preventing production of the hormone testosterone. At the same time, Wnt-4 initiates development of the Müllerian duct, which gives rise to the oviduct, uterus, and upper vagina. Apparently, the gene also plays a role in egg development; biologists aren't totally sure how this occurs.

As McMahon's team discovered, a mutated Wnt-4 interferes with this process and masculinizes the female.

Since both sexes start out with the rudiments of male and female reproductive systems, one system must be eliminated. Males release a hormone called Müllerian Inhibiting Substance (MIS), which destroys the female duct. Males also make testosterone to promote differentiation of the rudimentary Wolffian duct into sperm ducts (epididymis and vas deferens) and seminal vesicles.
..."

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 4, 2008 10:03 AM

The couple wants a baby. Of course, carrying it in the family saves the cost the stress and the worry of a surrogate and is more warm and fuzzy. Comes in handy that he kept his plumbing. Of course, at least half the genes are the couples, which would not happen with a surrogate. Plus they know how they took care of the carrier's health and healthy living during pregnancy. When the baby is born, he'll be the father and his wife the mother (although they will have to do some legal paperwork I believe). No worries that this baby will nor get enough love and enough care. He went public to raise conciousness. He is not the firt trans man to have a baby. Leav'em alone.
PS-No small love for his wife to do this after years of living as a man, which is what he really wants.

Posted by: marianne | April 4, 2008 10:07 AM

Who gives a crizz if s/he is technically a woman or actually a man? I know several people who self-identify as the opposite gender. It's largely a matter of semantics at that point. You could argue that Thomas' sex is important in terms of whether he's technically a pregnant man, but no matter how you look at it, it's a person who anybody walking on the street would think is a man, but is pregnant. That makes it interesting to me, and newsworthy. And I couldn't care less if Thomas is "actually" a woman or not.

Posted by: JEGS | April 4, 2008 10:07 AM

"...though I guess I question her motives."

I thought their motives were clear, they wanted a baby and since one of them could have one, they did.

Posted by: milesdy | April 4, 2008 10:11 AM

I am offended by all of you who think uterus=female. what about the millions of women and girls who had to have their uterus removed due to illness? are they no longer female?

thomas, aka the pregnant man, explains very eloquently in the advocate article and on oprah that he feels like a man, and has always felt that way, starting with puberty when his body "betrayed" him (his words) by growing breasts. i know transgendered men who report the same phenom. his candor is worthy of respect, not ridicule.

he wants a child, his own biological child. if women cannot respect this desire, who can?

and the reason he and his wife went public with the story is that they knew it would get out, eventually, as his pregnancy progressed. they wanted to tell their story themselves, instead of having news media distort it and treat them like freaks. a natural and wise decision in my opinion.

and their child, just like our child, has no choice about the family she is born into. this child should be treated with the respect all children deserve. i for one hope and pray she gets it from us as a collective society that ostensibly respects children.

Posted by: leslie4 | April 4, 2008 10:14 AM

marianne- Of course half their genes could be in a surrogate. Surrogates don't have to use their own eggs. It seems strange that as a man he'd choose to carry the baby rather than use a surrogate, but I certainly see the advantages.

Posted by: atb2 | April 4, 2008 10:19 AM

I am curious and hope someone can clear this up for me. If "he" still has female genitalia where would they put "him" if he were convicted of a crime? I can't honestly see them placing "him" in a men's prison, so technically can "he" really be a male?

Posted by: natasha.king | April 4, 2008 10:27 AM

Leslie, you're failing logic class again.

The statement made by a number of us is "a person with a uterus is female." or, symbolically,

uterus => female.

You're asserting that that's logically equal to saying "a person without a uterus is not female". or symbolically,

not(uterus) => not(female)

That's false; those two statements are not logically equivalent. They're very different statements.

I know I don't subscribe to your statement, because a uterus is but one of the things that makes one a female. I suspect few others would subscribe to it, either.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 4, 2008 10:28 AM

Sorry--this is not a man. This is a woman who has taken hormones to simulate male secondary sex characteristics. This is a woman with the full complement of female primary sexual characteristcs, including the appropriate chromosomes. Who is kidding whom here? There is this old joke about asking someone if you said a horse had 2 legs, would that make it bipedal. Answer: No, saying a horse has two legs doesn't make it so. This person is a woman and will soon be a mother. Mother--this person needed donated sperm and has supplied the EGG. This person is a woman and a mother. Who else?

Posted by: pegric | April 4, 2008 10:28 AM

WorkingmomX: "But she is biologically a woman. Just because you want something really really really badly doesn't mean it happens"

That's only the case if who you are is determined solely by biology. My aunt had a radical hysterectomy and identifies as a woman. People born with XXY chromosomes identify as males. People born with one or three X chromosomes identify as females. Biology is only part of who you are, and it is not necessarily determinative.

Posted by: jbs280 | April 4, 2008 10:32 AM

Leslie, I'm not saying you're not right -- but I take issue with the fact that the media is reporting that a man is pregnant!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 4, 2008 10:39 AM

ArmyBrat -- I am so much more than a uterus!

If mine had to be removed tomorrow I'd still be myself. I think it's insulting to men and women to try to define gender identity so narrowly.

It doesn't matter to me what's under your clothes. What matters is what's in your heart, brain and soul.

Posted by: leslie4 | April 4, 2008 10:41 AM

That's only the case if who you are is determined solely by biology. My aunt had a radical hysterectomy and identifies as a woman. People born with XXY chromosomes identify as males. People born with one or three X chromosomes identify as females. Biology is only part of who you are, and it is not necessarily determinative.


????

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 4, 2008 10:41 AM

jbs280 - I'm completely confused by your posting.

"My aunt had a radical hysterectomy and identifies as a woman."

Why would she not? That operation certainly didn't remove all of the uniquely-female parts of her body, and it gave her none of the uniquely-male parts. (Assuming they didn't implant a prostate as part of the operation. :-) I'm really, really confused by that statement.

"That's only the case if who you are is determined solely by biology."

I understand that some people do feel that they're born in the "wrong body". But at some point there's a realization of what you can and can't do.

Let's look at a simple case. (Okay, this is somewhat flippant but we can make one as serious as you'd like.) When I was on the boys' cross-country team in high school, my time in the regional meet did not qualify me for the state meet - I was too slow. On the other hand, had I participated in the girls' race, I would have not only qualified for the state meet but also finished in the top ten, thus earning myself an "All-State" designation that would most likely have helped those college applications. So, why shouldn't I have self-identified as female and competed in that race? What would have been their basis for keeping me out?

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 4, 2008 10:43 AM

ArmyBrat

"What would have been their basis for keeping me out?

The fact that you are a crashing bore is my guess.

Posted by: gizmo | April 4, 2008 10:48 AM

Leslie "ArmyBrat -- I am so much more than a uterus! If mine had to be removed tomorrow I'd still be myself."

I completely agree. And you'd be just as much a woman as you are today. "no uterus" does not imply "male" nor does it imply "female". But "uterus" does imply "female" just as "prostate" implies "male."

"It doesn't matter to me what's under your clothes. What matters is what's in your heart, brain and soul."

On a personal level, I completely agree with this, too. For many (most?) things it does not matter if one is male or female - we've discussed that many times on this blog.

But, in determining whether one is "male" or "female" for those cases when it actually matters, there has to be a set of determining factors. And "facial hair" or "flat chest" or "I really think I ought to be" tend not to be good determining factors.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 4, 2008 10:50 AM

Leslie, biologically, Thomas is a woman. You cannot get around that. He is not letting that stop him from trying to be a man in other ways, and more power to him I guess, though he has chosen to become pregnant and give birth, so maybe his commitment to truly being a man is maybe not really all that hard and fast (pardon the pun) because, again, biologically, HUMAN MALES CANNOT GIVE BIRTH.

I don't give a rat's fart if he self-identifies as a horseshoe crab. It's annoying that it's being reported by the media as a man who is pregnant.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 4, 2008 10:50 AM

gizmo, sorry but that's not a disqualifying factor. I knew the girls' state champ and she was far more of a bore than me. Not nearly so much as you, but more than me.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 4, 2008 10:52 AM

why is it wrong to want the best of both worlds?

Posted by: leslie4 | April 4, 2008 07:25 AM


......

You will never get "the best of both worlds" in life, get real.

Posted by: eaglestrk01 | April 4, 2008 10:56 AM

oh wow...we haven't had such a good fight in *ages*

Posted by: dotted_1 | April 4, 2008 11:04 AM

I knew this thread would fire up all the idiot liberals who believe in the total baloney that "gender is socially constructed".

Posted by: mucus99 | April 4, 2008 11:11 AM

This isn't a man having a baby. It's a woman who reconstructed herself to look like a man. Whatever. I'd think this was more newsworthy if somehow a real man was pregnant.

Let them live their lives and do what they want to do.

Posted by: vogelle1974 | April 4, 2008 11:14 AM

I personally don't find this to be such a big deal. First of all, because biologically, Thomas is a woman, so it is not really a freakish thing that he is pregnant. Secondly, he and his wife want a child, so they are having one. Big deal. Thirdly, medical advances have made all kinds of things that were formerly impossible now possible. The only remarkable thing here is that Thomas is a genetic woman who now looks like a man. I don't find that all that interesting or surprising.

Now if Thomas were genetically a man, and was pregnant, that would be noteworthy. But genetically, he's not. I find nothing wrong with that. But the fact that he's pregnant is not really such a big deal to me.

Posted by: emily111 | April 4, 2008 11:14 AM

The fact that this person is pregnant proves that she is not a man. If you want to be a man, you have to have been born a boy. Your gender is not just in your primary or secondary sexual characteristics. Your gender is in every cell in your body. Where are this person's sperm cells? This person has egg cells -- one of them got fertilized to begin this pregnancy. Men don't have egg cells.

There is nothing wrong with wanting "the best of both worlds," but don't ask us to believe an obvious falsehood. If you were born a boy, you cannot get pregnant, no matter what surgery or hormone therapy you undergo. Too bad. If you wanted to get pregnant, you should have been born a girl. And if you want to be a man, you should have been born a boy. If you were born a girl, no amount of envy or resentment or pretending will make you a man. Instead of trying to fool people, you should thank the Creator every day for having made you according to His will. How does that saying go? "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change." And this is one of them.

"Be all you can be" is different from "Be all you want to be." The first is possible and laudable. The second may be impossible. Whom does this "pregnant man" think she is fooling?

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | April 4, 2008 11:16 AM

Sorry Leslie, that was and is a woman. Just because some doctor put a penis on you doesn't make you a man. Why not put another on her head. That would best explain what she is.

And a buff chest? are you joking? Didn't you see the scars and flab?

Posted by: jtcmd | April 4, 2008 11:17 AM

This is a silly semantics argument.

Sex = biological = female

Gender = socially constructed = male

Posted by: atb2 | April 4, 2008 11:19 AM

I just might be a lesbian trapped inside the body of a man. How would I know?

Posted by: DandyLion | April 4, 2008 11:28 AM

I'm with Lucy here - I think it's wonderful that this child will be born to parents who both want it. Who cares what the configuration of genitalia and gender constructs is. Congratulations to them!

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | April 4, 2008 11:29 AM

Well I did have to add to Matt - maybe you have not known transgendered individuals. These are people who usually have had a strong sense from very early childhood that they were in the "wrong" body.

My personal belief is that God (or creation, or biology) made them that way too. People like this have existed across cultures and history, if you look back.

In my concept of God, if these people are here for a reason, it is for us to LEARN something about the nature of the internal soul or spirit and the value of perception, as well as a spirit of listening and acceptance on the part of society. Rather than condemning them, stoning them, or simply saying "Tough, you have these chromosones, deal with it."

Our growing scientific knowledge indicates that biological sex, even, is much more complicated than we have thought, with lots of variation.

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | April 4, 2008 11:36 AM

he wants a child, his own biological child. if women cannot respect this desire, who can?

Leslie, my only issue with this, is I'm worried about the trauma during the pregnancy - the man was on hormones and how is that affecting the child's development inside of him along with how the child will be born and the dangers of carrying a child with the anatomy as you've all discussed.

I know that we live in a "selfish - I must have it all" society, but step back for a minute - there are millions of children who need good families and homes waiting to be adopted.

I most likely will never be able to have children - I've had one ovary removed already (and my other is at risk due to familial ovarian cancer) and my faith does not approve of alternative methods of conception - which leads myself and my husband to lovingly and faithfully consider adoption... I don't know why so many people go through these extremes when there are so many children to love already out there...

Just my $0.02

Posted by: annwhite1 | April 4, 2008 11:38 AM

"Gender construct", "socially constructed", "matter of semantics", etc, etc. nice words to describe those who can't figure out themselves or not so sure what they are.

Repeat after me: girl likes boy, boy likes girl.... simple huh?

Posted by: eaglestrk01 | April 4, 2008 11:38 AM

what you said, shandra. nicely articulated. thanks.

ann -- i wonder about your concerns over the testosterone he took. he stopped taking it two years before getting pregnant. his ob-gyn says his hormone levels and the baby's vitals are total normal. is there a chance that your concern is actually a form of judgment? because there doesn't seem to be evidence for it -- at least not any more evidence than the risks we all face living in a polluted world filled with chemicals in our air, food and drinking water.

Posted by: leslie4 | April 4, 2008 11:42 AM

I guess I don't see the story here. Woman becomes preganant hardly qualifies as news.

That said, I'm sympathetic to Thomas' story. I don't understand it, but we can all relate on some level to being something other than what our heart desires.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | April 4, 2008 11:57 AM

It certainly opens the debate for 21st century American men about what exactly remains as the value for women in their lives.

Posted by: joneshn | April 4, 2008 12:02 PM

ArmyBrat--

Your track analogy is disingenuous. atb2 did an excellent job of breaking down the semantics, and to define your gender based on the outcome of a track meet--it trivializes the issue.

Posted by: jbs280 | April 4, 2008 12:03 PM

Shandra: I presume you believe in evolution. What would be the evolutionary sense of a certain percentage of people being born every generation in the "wrong" body? Presumably this is not a mutation which confers any evolutionary advantage in the long term, so I'm confused as to why/how it would persist for thousands of years. Maybe I'm missing something here . .

Posted by: justlurking | April 4, 2008 12:20 PM

not every part of evolution makes sense.

and in evolutionary terms, thousands of years is like a nanosecond.

did you see the thing about the two male penguins at the central park zoo taking turns keeping an egg warm and then raising the baby that hatched?

thomas' situation strikes me as within the range of normal human behavior. and even if you don't agree, he's still a human being, his daughter will be human, and we as fellow humans owe them the same respect, freedom and dignity we expect.

Posted by: leslie4 | April 4, 2008 12:45 PM

So, who is the real father (sperm donor)?

I have no respect for the opinion that it's perfectly fine to procreate without the intention of nurturing and caring for the life that one has created. It's morally wrong and I am surprised that Leslie would condone making babies this way given all the articles she has posted on dads shirking their parental responsibilities.

Posted by: DandyLion | April 4, 2008 12:48 PM

Did taking male hormones stop her period? Or was she living as a man for years, but having a monthly period?

It sounds as if they used her own egg (turkey baster) so she was still ovulating?

Perhaps this is a new category of person - b/c she doesn't seem to be a man as much as she seems to think she's part man (yet still part woman).

So - she's both...or neither?

Posted by: jdavoli | April 4, 2008 12:50 PM

He took testosterone and had to stop taking it in order to ovulate, menstruate and conceive.

He has a vj and presumably could deliver the baby vaginally.

He also has a peanut (grew from clitoris when he took the testosterone -- this is essentially the same thing that happens to a male fetus in utero, eg, the clitoris grows into a peanut).

ArmyBrat etc you are off your rockers if you try to argue that because he has a uterus he's a woman. He's also got the schwang. So is he both a man and a woman? You see the limits of using too didactic a definition for gender.

Anyway, this discussion is precisely why the subject of a pregnant man is so provocative and interesting. How do we define men and women in our world? Why does it matter to us?

Posted by: leslie4 | April 4, 2008 1:04 PM

"Whatever will be, will be." This event
is fait accompli, let us hope it fulfills the lives of the two who were brave enough to follow through their THEIR plans.

Posted by: r.bsher | April 4, 2008 1:11 PM

Too disturbing; I cannot follow this news story. That kid is gonna need therapy.

Posted by: pepperjade | April 4, 2008 1:14 PM

FYI folks.

This pregnant "man" is a woman who underwent sex-change surgery but chose to keep her uterus. So she's still a woman regardless her current appearance.

Don't sweat it.

Posted by: eaglestrk01 | April 4, 2008 1:19 PM

joneshn raises an iteresting point. I think we'd all be better served by that discussion rather than "pregnant man" headlines.

re: "not every part of evolution makes sense."

Is this because you disagree with the outcome? That's a tough one. Essentially you're saying we should use the tools at our disposal (science and technology) to attempt to overcome those aspects of nature/evolution we find objectionable.


Posted by: NoVAHockey | April 4, 2008 1:21 PM

Yeah Army Brat, don't you get it. The guy has a vagina, uterus, ovaries, enlarged clitorus, no testicles or prostate gland.

Of course he's a man!

Posted by: DandyLion | April 4, 2008 1:23 PM

The thing that I found most interesting in this story is that the US government recognizes his identity as a man, and he has the legal right to marry a woman and receive ALL the benefits of marriage.

And yet the (current) government fights tooth and nail against same sex marriage! S

So you can go through a sex change operation, become transgendered, and legally marry someone of the opposite sex, but not the same sex (or the sex you started out as).

Seems like a major disconnect to me. (For the record, I am for legal marriage rights for all consenting adults)...

Posted by: cjbriggs | April 4, 2008 1:26 PM

Why, pepperjade, would this child need therapy more than any other child raised in any other family structure?

The amusing thing about the reactions here today -- admittedly teed up by Leslie's customarily inflammatory approach -- is that they are even more over-the-top than they would be if the couple was gay, not that that would pose a legitimate justification for concern.

DandyLion, Production of sperm has never conferred "real" father status on a single soul. At maximum, it offers an opportunity for fatherhood. Ask any child raised by a great stepdad, the "real" father is the one who does the raising. Sometimes the one who delivers the sperm also does the raising. Sometimes not.

Posted by: mn.188 | April 4, 2008 1:28 PM

pepperjade: I tend to agree with you. Therapy may be needed. However, the child may never know until s/he is much older and more able to deal with it.

Wait a second...what am I saying? We're all adults and most of us can't deal with it. Responses here range from moral issues to a discussion of what defines a female.

What defines me as a female? My genes say I'm female so I am. No ambiguity for me. Quite simple really. I wouldn't wish ambiguity on anyone. It just seems like one huge cross to bear.

Posted by: dotted_1 | April 4, 2008 1:31 PM

DandyLion: "Yeah Army Brat, don't you get it. The guy has a vagina, uterus, ovaries, enlarged clitorus, no testicles or prostate gland.

Of course he's a man! "

Oh, of course! (*slaps forehead*) How silly of me not to have seen it before. Must be that CSS I attended.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 4, 2008 1:37 PM

It is not a pregnant man. It is a woman cosmetically altered to appear as a man. Therefore it is a non starter news story. We truly do not need to assess what two human beings have decided to do in their own lives. I view this as an opportunity for this "couple" to cash in.

Posted by: USadrift | April 4, 2008 1:40 PM

Re: the evolution comments - as I learned evolution, each generation of a species results in any number of variants; it's only the variants that help the species adapt/survive/grow that predominate over long periods of time.

(E.g., white or "albino" alligators are rare; it's a "bad" variant in that it makes the young alligator easily visible and thus easily eaten. So albino alligators never took over. Nonetheless, there are a few in most generations.)

So it's perfectly reasonable to expect that some of those variants involve people who believe that they're in the "wrong" bodies. It's historically probably been a variant that didn't adapt well so it didn't take over the human species, but its existence in each generation is perfectly consistent with evolution.

And yes, humans for thousands of years, religious or atheistic or somewhere in between, have been fighting against the effects of evolution to try to ensure the success of individual or set of individuals. That's kind of what sets humans apart from other species.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 4, 2008 1:44 PM

It really comes down to where we want to draw the line on the use of science and technology to address any shortcomings, real or percieved, that we see in ourselves. Some are much more comfortable than others. Seems like some have any "anything goes for consenting adults" outlook, while others have a more cautious approach.

In this specific case, this person identifies as a man but was born a woman. Is that tough luck? Life isn't fair, right? Or something to address if the technology is available, akin to getting LASIK?

Posted by: NoVAHockey | April 4, 2008 1:45 PM

Failing biology too!

No, Leslie, he does not actually have a penis. He has an enlarged clitoris. From the article itself: "Thomas says his clitoris grew to the size of a small penis. "It looks like a penis,"

His clitoris grew to the size of a small penis, which is reportedly fairly common in these situations. The clitoris is homologous to the penis, but it's not the same.

He doesn't urinate through it; he can't ejaculate through it; it doesn't serve any of the other purposes of the male reproductive organ.

Gee whiz, is that what they teach you at Harvard? I got a better biology education at the CSS.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 4, 2008 1:49 PM

OK, 2 things. If the testosterone is no longer taken, why the beard? I have a distinct feeling they will end up with a girl baby "tainted" by testosterone. If the doctor is OK with that... I guess time will tell if she's born a lesbian with an enlarged clitoris. I'm guessing yes.

Second, let's just make this simple. Who just gets the heebie jeebies from this story and is just trying to avoid saying it? Raise your hand. I think this whole thing just makes some people uncomfortable. I'll admit it's weird, but I think the kid will turn out OK.

Posted by: atb2 | April 4, 2008 1:51 PM

atb - heebie jeebies! Love it atb.

I mean can't hermaphrodites get pregnant? Is this person really a hermaphrodite?

This omphaloskepsis today is amazing.

See Fred, I can use this word now too!

MN: Go UNC

Posted by: dotted_1 | April 4, 2008 2:07 PM

Gee whiz, is that what they teach you at Harvard? I got a better biology education at the CSS.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 4, 2008 01:49 PM

Army Brat, Leslie got this story from OPRAH, not from DRAVRAH.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | April 4, 2008 2:10 PM

i have to say that i agree that the "but what about the child" argument to be phoney. wasn't that the excuse people gave for being against mixed race marriages or gays adopting? the gee i really don't have a problem with x but i worry about the children..... i think the child will manage just fine or might wig out or might be somewhere in between. what about the girl who was the first test tube baby? she seems to be just fine. all those mixed race children? well, some of them have issues & others don't. same with the children of gays.

Posted by: quark | April 4, 2008 2:11 PM

It's sad to see so many with binary closed box ideas of self-identity. I really hope my generation and in the future can be more open minded and understanding.

Of course biologically, female is female. No getting around that.

But to suggest that "woman" is one, physically determined set of traits I would think would obviously be false at this point.

Males can't have babies, but they are just as active in the creation of them as females are.

What if males could have babies? Shouldn't they be allowed the choice just like females?

Just because genetics creates a body in a certain form doesn't mean we should be dictated by what we can do with that body.

Posted by: EmeraldEAD | April 4, 2008 2:24 PM

"Leslie got this story from OPRAH, not from DRAVRAH."

That was funny, Matt. Thanks.

And ArmyBrat, I appreciate your ongoing, civilized attempts to educate me. Seriously. I'm not sure there's hope for me to see things your way but I do appreciate your sincere approach.

And Dandy, funny funny funny as usual even when you're making fun of me.

Very productive, interesting discussion. The J&J mommy blogger conference I've been attending just wrapped, and now I'm going for a jog. Will try to come back with more "customarily inflammatory approaches" (thanks, MN) on this subject.

My parting shot -- Dandy and ArmyBrat, I'm sorry but I fail to see any significant differences between an enlarged C and a small P. He's a man!!!

Posted by: leslie4 | April 4, 2008 2:53 PM

Also, before everyone turns off their computers for the day (it being Friday so 3 pm doesn't seem too too early for quitting time), a reminder that sex is also our subject for Monday, or at least one of 'em: Top 10 Tips for Marital Bliss. I have gotten WONDERFUL suggestions (thank you all) and it's not too let to tell me yours.

Send me your tips at leslie@lesliemorgansteiner.com

Posted by: leslie4 | April 4, 2008 2:55 PM

EmeraldEAD: "But to suggest that "woman" is one, physically determined set of traits I would think would obviously be false at this point."

I would think that it's not obviously false; in fact I think it's obviously true.

"Males can't have babies, but they are just as active in the creation of them as females are."

Males contribute one-half of the genetic material, at least as of today. Beyond that is a case-by-case basis. In the case of Thomas, today's subject, the male was an anonymous sperm donor, whose activity in the creation of the child ended when he ejaculated into a test tube. I'd hope my own role in the creation of my children was significantly more substantial, but you'd have to ask my wife.

"What if males could have babies? Shouldn't they be allowed the choice just like females?"

What if the moon fell out of the sky? Shouldn't we be allowed more freedom in light of the new gravitational constant? We can have those discussions for hours, but I prefer to have consumed more beer before starting.

"Just because genetics creates a body in a certain form doesn't mean we should be dictated by what we can do with that body."

I'm sorry; that doesn't parse. What were you trying to say?

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 4, 2008 3:03 PM

I have been lurking today but was just struck by this:

My parting shot -- Dandy and ArmyBrat, I'm sorry but I fail to see any significant differences between an enlarged C and a small P. He's a man!!!

Posted by: leslie4 | April 4, 2008 02:53 PM


So ejaculation and urination are not "significant?" Those are the fundamental purposes of a penis or did I miss something?? Thanks

Posted by: MomTo2Kids | April 4, 2008 3:15 PM

If men had to go through nine month of pregnacy plus labor/delivery, each family would probably have one child !!

Posted by: JustADad | April 4, 2008 3:15 PM

Aerosmith has written a new song just for Pregnant Man...

"Lady Looks Like a Dude"

Posted by: TomIII | April 4, 2008 3:22 PM

Well, I think there's 1 thing we can all agree on. When Thomas is taking care of his daughter nobody will object to calling him "Mr Mom".

Posted by: DandyLion | April 4, 2008 3:24 PM

Mom2Kids -- I am still cracking up. Not sure whether I am laughing at you or myself. But neither urination nor ejaculation are what I think of as "the fundamental purpose" of a P. Just my view...

Posted by: leslie4 | April 4, 2008 3:29 PM

like most everybody else who's commented, my initial reaction was "he's not a man," a fact which was evident to me the moment i saw his face. far more disturbing to me, tho, than the idea of a biologically female person who lives as a man giving birth were the particular circumstances of thomas' life. he spoke adoringly of his mother, who oprah described as having "died" when T was 12, but in fact, mom committed suicide. that fact alone suggests that his childhood was nowhere near as idyllic as he'd have us believe. the suicide seems to have provided a catalyst for previously nonexistent gender-identity issues. throw in the emotionally absent and possibly abusive father and some questionable relationship experiences in early adulthood, and you can't tell me thomas doesn't have major psychological issues that are entirely separate from feeling you were born in the wrong body (which he says he never felt). the wife was totally creepy, with an inappropriate affect and a couple of daughters who had "stepford" written all over them. i hate to think what lies ahead for that child.

Posted by: vikkiengle | April 4, 2008 3:33 PM

That's because you're a woman, Leslie. To most men, those are the two primary purposes of a penis. Well, yeah, okay, there's what occurs prior to ejaculation that causes it to happen, but you know how guys are. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 4, 2008 3:33 PM

Gotcha, AB.

And Vikki who died and made you psychologist? Thomas never said his childhood was idyllic. When Oprah acknowledged that his mother died when he was young, he clarified that his mom committed suicide. He welled up when he said that. He was very open about his father's fumblings in the wake of a difficult situation.

I am sure there is far more to this story than Oprah could cover in an hour. And there is probably at least a grain of truth that Thomas and Nancy are seeking publicity for some degree of financial gain, either now or in a future book or movie deal. But I think you are being unfair to psychobabblize him from afar. That's my job!

Posted by: leslie4 | April 4, 2008 3:45 PM

Leslie,

I am glad I could make you laugh. I of course was speaking from a "biological" point of view of the male member. I do have 2 kids after all :)

I am curious about the beard though. If he has been off testosterone for two years, how does he have a beard? Has he not shaved in 2 years?? And why wouldn't he grow breasts again?

Posted by: MomTo2Kids | April 4, 2008 3:58 PM

Okay, so I'm not an expert here. But from close reading of the Advocate article and even closer scrutiny of Oprah's interview, here's my answer:

Testosterone (or lack of it) is not what makes you grow or not grow breasts. Your breasts enlarge during puberty and stay that way unless you intervene surgically. Which is what Thomas did -- he had them removed. They will not grow back.

The beard question. He didn't look he'd been shaving lately. Just some long dark peach fuzz, really -- maybe facial hair that had been like that for months or even years. Older pictures of him when he was taking testosterone showed real beard stubble.

I believe I've exhausted my knowledge on this subject now.

Posted by: leslie4 | April 4, 2008 4:03 PM

Just an observation here, but the comments posted above with the quabble over whether or not Thomas is a man or woman seem to confuse the nature of the argument between two things. Yes, Thomas, is definitely biologically and genetically a FEMALE. That cannot be argued in any way shape or form as there is definitive proof. The failing argument, however, is that the fact that Thomas is a female makes him a woman or a man, both of which are more value driven terms with identity connotations. While I think that it would be improper to term Thomas the pregnant "male" I do not think any one of us can presume that Thomas is a man or a woman.

Arguing that Thomas is not a MAN because of the presence of FEMALE genetics/body parts is not an apples to apples argument, the same way that arguing that the presence of FEMALE traits makes Thomas a woman.

And no, the term female is not the same as woman nor is the term male the same as man.

Bottom line, the treatment of this couple was horrendous and should not be tolerated in any way. I wish them the best and hope their child is healthy and happy throughout life.

Posted by: sbloomqu | April 4, 2008 4:04 PM

"And no, the term female is not the same as woman nor is the term male the same as man."

And the difference is...?

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 4, 2008 4:17 PM

Leslie, The difference is ENORMOUS. Sorry to be graphic, but having seen an old Showtime documentary on the subject called The Opposite Sex: Rene's Story, complete with LOTS of nudity, it's the difference between 1 inch and hopefully more than 1 inch! I realize there are some SMALL penises out there, but very rarely that small. For the record, the couple followed was VERY attractive.

--------------------
Re: Leslie:"I'm sorry but I fail to see any significant differences between an enlarged C and a small P. He's a man!!!"

Posted by: atb2 | April 4, 2008 4:36 PM

Quark said:
"i have to say that i agree that the "but what about the child" argument to be phoney..... i think the child will manage just fine or might wig out or might be somewhere in between. what about the girl who was the first test tube baby? she seems to be just fine. all those mixed race children? well, some of them have issues & others don't. same with the children of gays."

I agree! .....And what about all those children of straight relationships? Some of them have issues, others don't!

Posted by: mtalley | April 4, 2008 5:04 PM

Wow. After reading the comments here, I sincerely hope, for the sake of all of your children, that none of you have to deal with having a transgendered, gay, bisexual child. Clearly, you wouldn't be able to handle it. And from what I've read, most of you would disown them. Sick.

Also, just like with everything else, leave teaching biology and sex ed to the schools systems. They'll learn more there than from you.

Posted by: jrs12 | April 4, 2008 5:22 PM

A little late in the game here, but honestly, I just think it is all about narcissism.

Fortunately in a free society we're all free to do what we want, or at least that's the theory. From time to time it plays out in the biggest of ways, such as in this instance.

However my instinct, and intuition, says this is all about a gender bender who is focused on their own thing, on drawing attention to themselves, and their pet issues, and to elective surgery, as if elective surgery truly changes things...yet doesn't. "I'm a woman who is a man who is a woman, watch me go..." Its like a second year BFA art project with real-world implications, and not just for his-her own life.

In the final analysis Jamie-Lee Curtis already went there, without the fanfare.

I'm non-plussed by this performance art piece, and I hope and pray that the child has a place in a world where mom-dad-mom does all this navel gazing, or constructed penis appendage gazing, as it were.


Posted by: lindsayhowerton | April 4, 2008 5:29 PM

lindsay - well said. great final words on the subject (for now at least).

Posted by: leslie4 | April 4, 2008 5:34 PM

sorry leslie--i guess when you asked "what do you think," i thought that meant you were actually interested in other people's opinions. maybe you just wanted to feel out people's thoughts on what makes a person male or female, since that endless and unresolvable discussion doesn't seem to have annoyed the way my comment did. it's hardly "psychobabble" to suggest that a person's issues with their own parents might influence their eventual relationship with their children. and just because a couple wants and goes to great lengths to have a child doesn't mean they'll be good parents. maybe thomas and nancy will be, maybe their child will be perfectly well adjusted. based on what i saw on yesterday's show, i have my doubts. why does my voicing that opinion constitute stepping into "your job"?

Posted by: vikkiengle | April 4, 2008 5:34 PM

Vikki - I was kidding!!!! and making fun of myself, not you. sorry to have angered you.

Posted by: leslie4 | April 4, 2008 5:55 PM

ArmyBrat- the answer to your question is "Why do people say 'act like a man' and not 'act like a male'?"

That's the difference.

Posted by: EmeraldEAD | April 4, 2008 6:03 PM

Er, let me help you with that testosterone "beard" bit. As a female with a testosterone problem, once the hairs are sensitive to testosterone, they stay dark. You have to actually SURPRESS your body's natural testosterone (even women make a little bit - when there is some imbalance, some make a lot) to get rid of those hairs. Those medications will feminize a male fetus: you don't wanna take those if you are thinking of becoming pregnant.

But you can keep the beard even if the testosterone is reduced to background level. I wish I didn't know as much about this as I do! Let's just say it takes a number of pharmaceuticals to keep me from joining the circus, and I'm 100% female, and have in no way intervened to change that.

Just say'n.

Posted by: badmommy | April 4, 2008 10:13 PM

I disagree with the comments that this couple is just like interracial couples some years ago, in terms of their degree of acceptability by others.

Your race, most often, is something you cannot change, with the exception of people who "pass" for another race.

"Thomas" for his own reasons, chose all of the changes to his biology, but did not choose the most elemental of all -- to have his uterus removed.

He may feel transgendered but is legally considered a man. He is playing both sides against the middle. When I want a baby, I'm a woman. When I want to be one of the guys at work, I'm a man. (Hmmm maybe onto something here -- no gender pay gap!)

One wonders why he did not have children before this change. I also dispute the notion that any lifestyle choice is just fine and kids must learn how to live with it.

I object less to the idea of the pregnancy and more to the publicity aspect of it.
I agree with some posters who believe he could have lived this way under the radar.

The "freak show" aspect is not the fact of the pregnancy; it is the publicity surrounding this entire event. As Dr. Phil says, "This baby already has a job and that ain't right."

The baby's job is to convince the world that the parents are okay.

Posted by: readerny | April 4, 2008 10:53 PM

As a mother of 2, and a writer for Good Housekeeping, BabyCenter and my own blog, I have run into more viewpoints in the past two years than all my years writing tv.

This all said, what I've learned the most about life is that people can be so friggin' judgemental. There IS no right way to live. There is no wrong way to live. There is just love.

I liked Thomas. I think he'll make an amazing parent.

I'm tired of judgement. I don't care what the Bible says or what this says or that. We're human friggin' beings who are all trying to do the best we can.

If I can teach my children to be kind, empathetic people, I've done my job. (Maybe I'll even land on Oprah for that amazing feat! Wish me luck!)

www.passthezoloft.blogspot.com

Posted by: andrea.paventi | April 5, 2008 2:03 AM

Love what you said, Andrea. Thanks.

And I love the name of your blog! Pass me some!

Posted by: leslie4 | April 5, 2008 8:27 AM

"Shandra: I presume you believe in evolution. What would be the evolutionary sense of a certain percentage of people being born every generation in the "wrong" body? Presumably this is not a mutation which confers any evolutionary advantage in the long term, so I'm confused as to why/how it would persist for thousands of years. Maybe I'm missing something here . . "

I always find the leap to evolution vs. creationism that exists in American discourse of biology to be a bit weird. I do more or less believe in evolution in that I think it is a sound scientific theory for which much evidence exists. But I don't see how it impacts in this discussion - there probably isn't an evolutionary reason for blue and brown eyes, but genetics can still explain how they might be inherited.

For me, God might well have made the world and everyone, but if he did - he made EVERYONE, not just the people that think like me or look like me. Y'know?

I don't think biology can really tell us how to treat people, and it's my spiritual belief that we should treat them with compassion and understanding. An approach that many different prophets and religious figures have preached over time.

For me, when I look at human experience since the beginning of recorded history (a period during which evolution wouldn't have much to say, since it's pretty short) I just see that in many if not most cultures there are stories of gay and lesbian and transgendered people.

Even if there weren't, I would think they would deserve my respect (sort of like Christians haven't been around that long on the human stage, but I still try to be respectful of their right to gather and pray and preach). But given that there are, I personally believe that it is not some recent cultural shift towards "selfishness" or dressing weird or nailpolish or MTV, but some reasonably fundamental, if unusual, human experience.

And being me, I guess I just think it is a real testament to something inside people that has a sense of self apart from the body. So I guess you could say that to me, the experience of transgendered people makes me believe a bit more in the idea of a soul or spirit. So for me it is a kind of spiritual teaching to try to understand the kind of pain a person would suffer in being trapped in a body that felt fundamentally and horrifically wrong, coupled with the condemnation and negation of people around them. It might in some ways be a bit like being the Son of God but people being threatened by that and crucifying you, I guess.

Anyways to get to what I think you were saying - actually I can see a few evolutionary advantages to being "different" if not specifically transgendered. I think people who are different are often driven to find others like them, and might be more likely to leave tribes and start new ones, and that would provide some biological and geographical diversity in case of catastrophe in the "main tribe"'s environment.

But really I don't think evolution would actually care if someone wanted to identify as male, female, or iguana, so long as he or she reproduced. And we have to say Thomas has been really successful there!

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | April 5, 2008 1:43 PM

The LBGT movement has a respect problem. It doesn't rein in its more arrogant, self-righteous members who treat those who see any moral issues in sexuality as knuckle-draggers. "Homophobic" is a hate-speech term by which some cast persons with traditional moral beliefs as mentally ill. But sexuality is too complex to be excluded from moral considerations. Besides, no research shows that sexual orientation is ENTIRELY hereditary in any gay person, or that it has a strong bearing on EVERY gay individual. There ARE moral issues in the margin of non-hereditary sexual determination, and manipulating people to deny it with hate-speech and in-your-face self-righteousness is ugly behavior unworthy of respect. Regarding this transgendered person with a male legal status, many people seem to feel that there's excessive vanity and self-indulgence at play. Many of these might well be authentically tolerant of sexual minorities at such, but think that the movement has gone too far in its arrogance and in its degree. Many might just resent a movement's use of emotional terrorism to pursue its goals.
--Most people can't go to such extraordinary lengths to deal with their sexual shortcomings. They have to accept them, whether they have to do with less-than-"adequate" secondary sexual characteristics, psychological hangups, or broader relationship issues. Therapy accomplishes only so much, and all of these identity-manipulations require enough financial and medical resources to make most people too embarrassed to indulge such vanity. Most know that there's some psychological value in learning to accept one's limitations, as Buddha and many others have taught.
--This pregnancy is a technological marvel. Given our current techno-ethos, if something can be done, someone will do it, and others will buy it, regardless of unanticipated consequences. There are many recent medical advances, but some cross the line into Frankenstein's laboratory. When a victim of fire, disease, or injury, or an injured vet takes advantage of a medical artifice, it's a sign of sacrifice or courageous struggle to overcome handicaps. The meaning of the thing is entirely different, though, when someone goes to extraordinary lengths to indulge vanity. Some women buy silicone falsies and face makeovers as they might buy a new pair of shoes.
--Is this healthy? The human ego functions as an entity "separate" from the unselfconscious, primitive organism that operates entirely within the domain of operant conditioning. Ego is a learned cognitive skill, an abstracted standpoint from which we observe our sensations and emotions, abstracting "objects" of perception and thought, while a more primitive being's sensations merely "flow through" its nervous system unobserved, eliciting unconscious conditioned responses. Among other things, an ego creates a kind of emotional/cognitive hall-of-mirrors that allows feelings to be reflected and re-reflected, to self-amplify and occupy virtually all of one's mental energy. Grudges are nurtured, fear itself is feared, anxiety takes off like a runaway train, depression is wallowed in. Even physical pain is largely a function of the attention focused upon it, as Lamaze classes teach. Traditionally, people learned to intervene in this snowballing process by shrugging it off, assessing their situations philosophically or some other means, in order to maintain their sanity. Today, though, we live in an age of new technological possibilities, and are like kids in a technological candy-store. Too bad that our ethical and moral discourse lags way behind our technology. This deficit is well recognized in virtually all other areas of technology, but not with regard to cosmetic self-alteration.
--Hypersensitivity has become a bit of a movement over the past half-century or so, ever since victimhood became invested with political, legal, and moral power, and correlatively, the need for mental helath professionals has grown, most especially in the metro areas of San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, D. C. It makes sense that the cultivation of hypersensitivity would cause difficulties, since focusing on one's affectedness by feelings and one's victimization is to focus on one's passivity, powerlessness, and lack of moral responsibility. Our moral discourse is almost entirely a question of rights, with little attention paid to duties. We define persons as passive, as a kind of being for which moral considerations are inherently irrelevant. That is, except for the "other guy" who hurts me or steals my stuff.
--This is the context within which a woman decides to exploit technology and the peculiar ethical and political fads of our time to become an artificial hermaphrodite, to manipulate her/his legal status, to grab her/his 15 minutes of fame, and to shove her/his gender-politics into the public's faces, while striking a blow for self indulgence. This is no miracle.

Posted by: bob8 | April 6, 2008 8:16 PM

Even before surgical interventions were invented, the sex/gender issue arose. In 1629 the Virginia General Court had to deal with the case of Thomas/Thomasine Hall; a case in which individuals appointed by the court concluded that s/he had anatomical characteristics of both male and female.
So, to me, the surgical intervention is really a non-issue. And, I really don't understand why people consider commitment to a gender identification and a desire for a biological child to be mutually exclusive. People are complicated creatures.
I do find it interesting that many posters seem as threatened today with gender ambiguity as Virginians were in 1629.

Posted by: agmeyer | April 6, 2008 9:45 PM

She is not a man, but a woman who thinks she is a man. A man does not have a uterus, falopian tubes and a cervix. She is not a man having a baby but a female and her "wife" is nothing more than a lesbian, who doesnt want to come out of the closet. She feels more comfortable with her own sexuality if she can call her partner her husband. Lesbians raising children dont make for confused children BUT a woman who thinks she is a man and has a "wife" raising a child would confuse any child.

Posted by: Tracy | April 10, 2008 9:05 PM

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