Health

The Unusual Story of a Pregnant, Bearded Man

DiscoblogBy Lizzie BuchenMar 21, 2008 9:31 PM

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Over the past century, the shackles of gender conformity have been getting looser and looser. More girls are becoming engineers and CEOs; more boys are becoming nurses and stay-at-home dads; a woman is a serious U.S. presidential candidate. And now men can become pregnant. Thomas Beatie is married to a woman who, due to endometriosis, cannot have children. And while Beatie is legally a man, he was born a female—uterus and all—but self-identifies as male. When he decided to make this feeling official, he had his breasts surgically removed and underwent testosterone therapy but kept the female downstairs equipment. Two years ago he and his wife, Nancy, decided they were ready for a child, so he stopped taking his bi-weekly testosterone injections. Beatie became pregnant without any exogenous estrogen, progesterone, or fertility drugs, and although his first pregnancy failed, this one’s free of complications. No matter how open and accepting you are, you must admit that the picture of a bearded, pregnant man is shocking, and demonstrates some interesting details about testosterone therapy for transgenders. Most of the changes are permanent (lowered voice range, hair growth on the face and chest, clitoral enlargement, and male pattern baldness), but there are some changes that reverse after the man stops the injections (including cessation of menstruation, increased muscle mass and strength in the upper body, redistribution of body fat from hips to abdomen, and emotional lability). Unfortunately, Beatie has met with a significant amount of prejudice, which he documents in a great essay in this month’s The Advocate. He writes about one doctor, who, "after a $300 consultation, reluctantly performed my initial checkups. He then required us to see the clinic's psychologist to see if we were fit to bring a child into this world and consulted with the ethics board of his hospital. A few months and a couple thousand dollars later, he told us that he would no longer treat us, saying he and his staff felt uncomfortable working with 'someone like me.'" The couple is expecting a baby girl in July.

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