I’m able to give birth, that doesn’t make me a woman.

[this post may trigger dysphoria]

One thing that really bothers me about otherwise trans-friendly cis people is the way that they treat birth as a trans-free situation. I’ve seen cis people who try their best to point out in virtually every other situation that not all female perceived people ARE women, who try to use gender neutral language when talking about birth control and breast exams and other assumed “female-specific” situations, then speak about people who give birth by referring to them exclusively as women and mothers without a second thought. This isn’t malicious, I don’t think it’s intentional, but there seems to be a mental hang-up and it’s a big problem. Because trans people are people, so not all of us want to have children, but some of us do and with as much trouble as cis queer people have adopting- they aren’t going to be lining up to give us children any time soon. I now know too many people who are willing to treat a trans person with respect suddenly start saying “Well, are you still trans? Are you a woman now? How am I supposed to treat you?” after the trans person gets pregnant, when they had no problem accepting the person’s gender and treating them respectfully before.

Sometimes you will get cis people who will only acknowledge a trans person’s gender if they’ve “fully transitioned”, if they can believe that the trans person no longer has their original genitalia. But the same cis people who are willing to accept that there are trans people who may menstruate, indicating a potential for pregnancy, suddenly can’t accept their gender once that person becomes pregnant.

It feels like they, or maybe we as a society, are willing to accept that trans people exist, but aren’t willing to accept that we can be parents. It feels like they consider birth to be this sacred, womyn-born-womyn only space even when saying that they don’t support those spaces in any other situation.

Pregnancy and reproduction is virtually never discussed among or concerning transgender people. The closest I’ve seen is trans people objecting to sterilization being a requirement to legally transition, but no one really talks about the possibility of openly trans people or trans people who’ve started transitioning or trans people in any sense having children. No one talks about what resources pregnant trans people need, I’ve seen people object to the way that reproductive health information can alienate trans people but no one ever says “And, hey, we need obstetricians and midwives who are aware of trans issues, too!”. The only time I’ve seen the situation forced to come up, when Thomas Beatie got so (in)famous, and many trans peoplewere reacting horribly to it.

All of the talk about trans people as parents assumes that we’ve finished having children before we start transitioning or even coming out, that the child hasn’t grown up knowing their parents as their true genders and will have to adjust to the transition. There are no resources for “explaining that your dad gave birth to you”, only “your daddy wants to be a woman, your mommy wants to be a man”.

This needs to change, because there are trans people who’ve gotten pregnant after starting to transition, and there are trans people who are pregnant right now, and there will continue to be trans people who are pregnant and getting pregnant and who want to have children in the future. And these people need support, they need prenatal care from doctors who are understanding of their situation and who don’t trigger dysphoria, they need to know how and when they need to explain this to schools to make sure that their child doesn’t face undo discrimination, they need advice for explaining this to their kids and when to do it.

Instead? Our community treats pregnant trans people like the elephant in the room, the black sheep of our metaphorical family, a shameful secret to brush under the rug.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “I’m able to give birth, that doesn’t make me a woman.

  1. Hey, thanks for this reminder. I definitely have a problem using cissexist language when writing about reproductive issues; I’m trying to stamp that out.

    • Awesome! It’s hard to talk about reproductive issues/sexual health without cissexist language, but it’s definitely good to try and also to remember that they’re issues that effect trans people, too. :)

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