Challenging the preconceptions of what it means to be male
Evolution is the New Revolution.
As a human race, we’re being asked to evolve all the time. The green movement, an end to war between nations, and adapting to new technologies of communication are examples of this. I think transsexualism fits the bill here too.
A common question that’s put to trans people when they come out is: why make such a radical change to your body? My answer is, why not? We modify our bodies all the time, taking prescription medications, ingesting chemicals and hormones in the food that we eat, getting piercings and tattoos… the list goes on. The goal of a transsexual isn’t to modify one’s body, it’s to find happiness. (In my view, as long as we aren’t directly harming others, finding happiness is the ultimate purpose of life, trans or not.) Shouldn’t we put to use technologies that are right under our nose if they can help us reach that goal?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the requirement that my home province of Quebec is imposing on me that I must have a complete hysterectomy in order to attain legal male status. At this point in my transition, I haven’t come across a personal need to have this surgery. I don’t really mind the organs that are inside my body–they aren’t affecting my happiness. But the government wants me to undergo a serious medical procedure, at the expense of tax payers I presume (I certainly don’t want to pay for surgery that I don’t want), at serious risk to my health (any surgery poses a risk, and I know non-trans people who have gone through this and have never been the same afterwards), and one that will knock me off work for a time, affecting my ability to provide for my partner and be a productive member of society. All for the change of one alpha character on a piece of paper.
One might wonder why I wouldn’t simply take a pass on this, given the serious implications of Quebec’s requirement. But having an M on my ID isn’t about parading it around and flashing it for all to see that I AM MAN. It’s about personal safety. Call me paranoid, but picture this: I’m driving late at night in, say Tennessee (it could happen anywhere), and I get pulled over for having a tail light out. I say “yes sir” and “no sir”, behaving in all properness. I present my ID, and the cop is confused: I have a beard, but an F on my ID. “Out of the car, ma’am.” I don’t even want to think about what comes next…
Presumably, the powers that be want to make sure that if they grant upon me the title of M that I can never have children. It doesn’t matter to them that I’ve never wanted children. It also doesn’t matter that the testosterone in my system would make me unable to conceive, or that I don’t sleep with men anyway. I must be sterilized by surgical intervention. I’m convinced that these requirements were drafted by bio-men who want to make it as difficult as possible for me to “join the club.”
However, if we’re supposed to be (as I believe) evolving as a human race into a more compassionate and loving sentient life form, I have to ask: what is so wrong with a man carrying a child? Put aside the social problems a transman would face (because these are based solely on judgment and have no bearing on the actual moral/ethical question at hand.) What’s the real problem here? A pregnant transman. Why not?
Last Thursday, I read two very different articles online that both challenged me and helped to reconcile my thoughts about the right to reproduce. The first story was a very sad one: a newborn baby was found in a plastic bag in the basement apartment of a woman in her twenties who had been denying that she was pregnant. The child died, and the woman will likely wind up behind bars or hospitalized. Either way, she will never be the same. I’m not even going to bother to link to the original news story because this type of tragedy isn’t rare.
The second story appeared in the Advocate, and it’s a little more unique. It’s a first person narrative from a transman who is carrying a child for his partner. This is a beautiful and painful story about a couple who want so hard to bring a child into this world, and to raise their daughter in an environment of love and support, yet they have been shunned by their families and the medical community (and “shunned” is too light a word.) They are in love, financially successful, and because one of them has gone through transition they are probably very in touch with themselves and have received ample therapeutic support. (I happen to think that therapy is very healthy. You don’t have to be “fucked up” to benefit from unbiased feedback.) Most of all, they desperately want to raise a child and have worked towards this for years. In short, they are perfect candidates for becoming parents. And yet they’ve had multiple doctors turn them away, saying they won’t help “people like them” to have a child.
Remember (to paraphrase my GF): You need a license to fish, but any dumb fuck can have a child.
I remember when I first saw a photo of a pregnant man. It was on the xxboys site and I stared at it long and hard, trying to make sense of what I was seeing. I admit that I found it very jarring. I was face to face with the gender binary we’ve all been raised with: women have babies, not men.
Shortly after this, I had a conversation with the psychologist I saw for my psychological assessment about the right and wrong reasons to go on testosterone. Because she has interacted with far more trans people than I have, I was curious about the experiences that she’s been let in on. She told me about a transman who was hesitant to start on T because he was uncertain about giving up his reproductive capabilities. This caused her great concern, and at the time, I thought I understood where she was coming from, but this certainty is wavering in light of my recent pondering about sterility and reproduction. I suspect that her concern might have been rooted in the social implications this transman would face as a pregnant male, but perhaps the attitude was also driven by the concept of “men don’t have babies.” I’ll have to ask her more about this some time.
Again, I don’t want to have children. It’s still early in my transition, but I’m pretty certain that I will want to pursue attaining legal male status, and I am not keen on having to get a full hysterectomy to achieve this. Apparently, BC does not have this same requirement. I think I will start the process of getting that M on my ID by doing some research into the requirements of each and every province in Canada. If there is a marked variance between these requirements, I may consider challenging Quebec in a court of law over this. At this point, I really don’t know if I would have the energy or inclination to wage such a battle, but I do feel the need to at least find out what is required of transmen coast to coast to attain legal male status to see if we are being treated equally or not.