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Woman Becomes Man Becomes Mother-To-Be

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday March 25, 2008

It's a real life version of Junior, the 1994 movie in which Arnold Schwarzenegger gets pregnant... if, that is, Schwarzenegger's scientist character were a man who used to be a woman.

Thomas Beatie, whose unusual story is featured in the April edition of The Advocate, was born with a female body, but identified as male. When Beatie transitioned to male, he kept certain female attributes intact.

Now, Beatie says, he is expecting a child, reports the National Post in a Mar. 25 article.

Now legally male, Beatie is married to wife Nancy, the article reported. But because Nancy Beatie is not able to give birth, the couple decided that Thomas, who still retained the necessary organs, would become pregnant.

The article quoted from Beatie's Advocate article, in which he wrote, "How does it feel to be a pregnant man?"

Beatie answers the question with, "Incredible."

Continues Beatie, "Despite the fact that my belly is growing with a new life inside me, I am stable and confident being the man that I am."

Beatie cuts through any gender confusion his pregnancy might entail, writing, "In a technical sense I see myself as my own surrogate, though my gender identity as male is constant," the article quotes from Beatie's article.

"To Nancy, I am her husband carrying our child," continues Beatie.

Beatie asserts, "I will be my daughter's father, and Nancy will be her mother. We will be a family."

The feat required more than one attempt. To prepare for pregnancy the first time, Beatie suspended his testosterone treaments for several months. Beatie also avoided fertility drugs and other hormone treatments typically associated with surrogate pregnancies, relying on frozen sperm from a bank.

However, the first attempt ended in an ectopic pregnancy, the result of which was the surgical removal of one fallopian tube, the article reported.

Trying again, Beatie succeeded once more in becoming pregnant.

He writes in the piece appearing in The Advocate, "We are happily awaiting her birth, with an estimated due date of July 3, 2008."

The success, so far, of the pregnancy both meets a deep-seated human desire and pushes an envelope that may make some people uneasy, suggests Beatie's article.

The Post quoted Beatie as writing, "[W]anting to have a biological child is neither a male nor female desire, but a human desire."

Adds Beatie, "Our situation ultimately will ask everyone to embrace the gamut of human possibility and to define for themselves what is normal."

The National Post reported that an editorial assistant with The Advocate confirmed the story, but Mr. and Mrs. Beatie declined to provide further details, with an eye to other arrangements with the media.

Said Nancy Beatie, "It's a big deal and we want to be able to tell our story," the Post reported.

Continued Nancy Beatie, "We'd love everybody on board as long as they're understanding and are going to tell our story and not their own."

That story is bound to be sensational. The Post article quoted an ethicist, Margaret Somerville, as saying that marriage equality for gays and lesbians and women transitioning to men and then giving birth challenges the biological order of things.

"Once you take away that fundamental biological reality, once you say that family is what you define it," the Post quoted Somerville, who is the founder and director for the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics, and Law, as saying, "then you can do this sort of thing."

Continued Somerville, "Where I would do a reversal on this is to say, 'You've artificially made yourself a man. You're not a man, you're a woman and you're having a baby and you're actually having your own baby.'"

Somerville went on, "'Just because you put on a clown suit, doesn't mean that you don't still exist underneath.'

"It's a very touchy thing," Somerville went on, "this deconstruction of our biological reality and the institutions that have existed across all kinds of societies over thousands and thousands of years to establish stability, respect and certainty."

Said Somerville, "I think we're just playing with fire."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.