A Word in Edgewise

By E.B. Boatner April 10, 2008

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“Is society ready for this pregnant husband?” the article “Labor of Love” in a recent The Advocate asks. Probably not, my money says, because society rarely is ready for anything new, especially something that has to do with human sexuality or reproduction.The Advocate story has a mix of everything button-pushing for the reader/voyeur. The Beaties, a young couple consisting of husband Thomas and wife Nancy, delightedly are awaiting the birth of their baby girl in July, having earlier undergone the loss of triplets because of an ectopic and life-threatening pregnancy.So far, no doubt, the reader’s sympathies are all with the parents-to-be.The hitch, and the reason the press is interested in the first place, is that it is Thomas who endured the harrowing first terminated pregnancy, and who currently is carrying their healthy unborn child. (Nancy, suffering severe endometriosis, had a hysterectomy 20 years ago, and is unable to bear children.)The couple, in Thomas’s words, for it is he who penned the Advocate piece, have been together for 10 years, which included his transitioning legally from Female-to-Male through chest reconstruction and bimonthly testosterone injections. According to Thomas’s testimony, up until this pregnancy, neighbors, and most of Nancy’s family, did not know he was transgender. They have been neither helpful nor supportive since, he notes, and “doctors have discriminated against us…receptionists have laughed at us.”Well, why bring it out in the open, then, many asked (the online Advocate appends 40 pages of heated commentary). One possibility: to step forward in the face of discrimination, and put a face on a loving couple with a transgender partner.In 1978, the world awoke to the birth of Louise Joy Brown, the first “test tube baby,” an event precipitating joy and outrage. Today, in vitro fertilization is commonplace, yet when 67-year-old Adriana Iliesc gave birth through artificial insemination in 2005, Romania drafted a law for age requirements. The cover of the April 27 Newsweek displays a hugely swollen belly over the title story headline “Womb for Rent.” Imagine that in 1978. Some can’t imagine it now.Whether society in general, the polygamous Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas today, or Jonestown in 1978, a first societal priority is controlling others’ sexuality.Gay males and lesbian couples having or adopting children were, and still are, discriminated against too often, and now, transgender parents will be coming under the microscope. As in every civil rights issue, someone, like the local man caught in last summer’s airport sting (see page 46), must stand forward—be seen and heard. This, Thomas Beatie has done.“Wanting to have a biological child,” Beatie insists, is neither a male nor female desire, but a human desire.”Ready or not, here they come.

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