Monday, April 14, 2008

Pregnant Men Aren't Gay

Why do gay men want to have babies? Anon.

Are you asking if gay men want to have children or if they want to get pregnant? As far as the latter is concerned, gay men are men -- they can't get pregnant and have no desire to.

If you've been hearing in the news about pregnant men, these are not gay men but Trans Men, female-to-male transsexuals who were born biologically female, get a partial sex-change, but retain their female sexual organs, including ovaries. Therefore they are still able to get pregnant like women. Ironically, Thomas Beatie, a pregnant Trans Man who has recently been getting a lot of publicity, happens to be heterosexual, and has a wife.

Repeat: Gay Men are men who have no desire to get pregnant and couldn't do so even if they wanted to, which they don't.

Some gay men want to have children, either in the usual biological way or via adoption etc. the same reason other people want to have children, presumably the joy it brings to raise and teach a little person how to get along in the world or to exercise a paternal/maternal need.

There is some controversy in the gay community on this issue. Some gay couples see raising children as something that makes them seem more "normal," while other gays feel that those who feel that way are trying too hard to be conventional and "straight-acting." Still other gays feel that having/raising children is simply every person's inalienable right.

In truth, the desire to have and raise children is a very personal decision, often having little to do with sexual orientation. Many heterosexual couples have no children, and no desire for same.


Leilani Love said...

I don't bring this up as a hypothetical, but as an actual person I know-- only because I'd like to know how you'd classify them.

Joe is a trans man, who is well on his way to completing his transition. At the moment, however, he still has a vagina.

Regardless of his genitals, he considers himself to be a gay man and only has relationships with other self-professed gay men.

While Thomas Beatie is the most publicized pregnant FTM, he is certainly not the first. Joe has a nearly two year-old daughter with his gay-male partner of three years.

He never intended to become pregnant, but neither Joe nor his partner had any thought but to keep and raise their baby.

Is Joe then a heterosexual woman, sans breasts? Or is he indeed a gay trans man with a biological daughter?

I promise I'm not being intentionally difficult. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around it for the first year or so...

But their little girl is so darned cute that I just kind of forgot about the classifications.

Just thought I'd ask...

Bill Samuels said...

Thanks for your comment and question, Leilani.

First, you raise a good point that I should have made clear in my post. I was of course making a distinction between homosexual men and transsexual men, some of whom are gay, some straight, some bi. Your friend, however, is a Trans Man who is also a Gay Man. It is the latter classification that enabled him to get pregnant; men who are simply gay can't get pregnant, of course.

I'm aware that Beatie is not the first pregnant FTM, and apparently there are many Trans Men who are not thrilled with his going public. Because a.) they are trying to be perceived as ultimately being no different from any other man and getting pregnant is kind of "different"; and b.) he has exposed to scrutiny certain loopholes that allow Trans Men who have not fully transitioned to be identified as male in a world where your gender is generally judged by your genitals. I imagine this will be a subject of intense debate in the trans world and elsewhere. If many Trans Men become pregnant, I don't know if they will necessarily be perceived as "heterosexual women" but perhaps more that they haven't fully embraced (conventional) manhood. Or as a completely new classification.

I'm a bit confused by your comment that your friend "never intended to become pregnant." I've been told that the hormones Trans Men take make it virtually impossible to ever get pregnant, and that Beatie had to be off his hormones for several months in order for him to become "in the family way." Perhaps there are other factors involved in the case of your friend.

Whatever, while it's true that it can be difficult at times to wrap our minds around all this, it's all quite fascinating, isn't it?

Whatever the classification we give people or they give themselves, the important thing is that people are happy and their children are too. When you say "their little girl is so darned cute that I just kind of forgot about the classifications" I think you've got the right idea.

Best, Bill

Bill Samuels said...

A good reason to preview a comment before posting. I meant it is the FORMER classification -- transsexual -- that allowed him to get pregnant, not the latter (being gay).

Ry said...

I've come across some straight men that were envious of the birthing process after seeing their wives give birth (primarily with natural births, which tend to be less painful). It may not be the same as "wanting to get pregnant" in the sense of actually trying, but I'm sure it's possible for anyone- gay, straight, male, female, trans, cis- to wish they had the ability to bring life into the world like that.

I've been told that the hormones Trans Men take make it virtually impossible to ever get pregnant

Virtually is the operative word. It also depends on how long he'd been ont hem and some other factors.

Also, hormones are hardly a requirement of transition. They make it easier, sure, but they aren't necessary. Some people choose not to take hormones, some choose not to get surgery, some choose both, some choose neither, some choose an odd conglomeration.

Bill Samuels said...

I appreciate your input, and the information!

Thanks for your comments.