Transgender man falls pregnant and becomes a natural mother

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A transgender man in his 30’s was able to carry a child after taking female hormones to reverse the effects of his female-to-male sex change treatment. The man from the West Midlands, UK is in a long-term relationship. It is not clear whether his partner is male or female. Medical ethics experts have called for a full inquiry into the issues surrounding transgender births, saying the interests of the child should not be risked to “fulfill the rights of an adult”.

The man has legally changed his gender to male and was able to give birth last year because his womb was not removed during the original sex change procedure. It is possible for transgender men who were born women, who still have functioning ovaries and a uterus, to become pregnant while still identifying and living as men.

Joanna Darrell, from the Beaumont Society, a support group for the transgender community, said the man approached the society asking for advice about having a baby. “We had a general inquiry to the Beaumont Society,” she said. “He wanted to know what surgery he could have before it would be impossible to carry a baby. He also asked about the possible health implications of retaining his womb.”

“He came for some information and I referred him to GIRES,” she said. GIRES, the Gender Identity Research and Education Society, is a charity that provides education, based on research into gender identity and intersex issues, to help improve the lives of those affected by the issues. “He got back in touch about six months ago to thank the society for its help and to say he had had the baby,” she said.

Miss Darrell said that the identity of father and son were being kept secret. “I'm not able to pass on any of his personal details out of respect to his and his son's privacy,” she said. The boy was likely to have been delivered by caesarean section although it is possible the man may have retained the ability to give birth naturally.

Ms Darrell said she believed he was the first British man to have given birth. “As far as we know there is only him, one man in America and one in Spain who have done this,” she told The Sunday Times.

Allan Pacey, a male fertility expert from Sheffield University, said, “This may seem quite complicated, but it’s actually fairly simple biology depending on exactly what surgery was performed and whose eggs and sperm were used.”

Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said there needs to be a proper inquiry in to the issues surrounding these births. “We have to sit up and consider these things,” she said. “I don't think it is in the interests of the child to distort nature this way. We are prepared to do anything possible to fulfill the rights of the adult. But I think it is at the expense and rights and welfare of the child.”

Trevor Stammers, director of medical ethics at St Mary's University College, London, said, “You are hardly going to end up with a baby that's going to have a happy, productive and optimal childhood.”

Earlier this month the Create Fertility Centre in Toronto revealed that it was providing hormone treatment for a number of male sex change patients with intact wombs who are hoping to become mothers. Clifford Librach, the clinic's medical director, would not confirm how many men are pregnant or when any babies are due to be born, but he has defended his stance in the Canadian media. “People have this misunderstanding about their [transsexuals'] situation,” he said. “If they have organs from one or the other sex than the one they were born with, it's really no different from any of the other treatments we do.”

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said it may have given advice on the procedure. The spokesman added that any ethical issues concerning the welfare of a child born to a sex change man would be dealt with by the individual doctors concerned. The HFEA does not keep any data on female to male transsexuals who have become mothers but a spokesman said that it may start collecting statistics in the future.

Gedis Grudzinskas, editor of Reproductive Biomedicine Online, said, “I'm sure it has already happened here more than once and people have kept quiet about it. There is no medical reason why you could not use estrogen to make the womb receptive. You would obtain donor eggs to be fertilized by donor sperm.”

The cancer risk associated with retaining a uterus and ovaries that are exposed to high levels of the male hormone testosterone means that most women changing sex choose to have them removed. Christopher Inglefield, a surgeon specializing in gender reassignment surgery, said he had seen two such cases in recent years who wanted to have babies. “The obvious thing is to get them to store eggs before they have the surgery, so they can have babies later using a female surrogate,” he said.

Former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe said, “It is a horrible muddle. What is the child going to think? The key thing is the child, in case anyone forgets that.”

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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Comments

  1. Crash2Parties Crash2Parties United States says:

    "Ms Darrell said she believed he was the first British man to have given birth. “As far as we know there is only him, one man in America and one in Spain who have done this,” she told The Sunday Times."

    Actually it's not unheard of among trans men.  Most simply don't make a big media deal about it.  I've known three locally and known of dozens in the region (West Coast, USA) through friends.  Many trans men tend to blend quite well and if they've found a supportive ob/gyn they just have the child and then tend to go on to raise a child happy and healthy as any other.

    In regards to the ethics, first these people argue that kids must have a man and a wife for parents.  I guess that's not good enough in this case, now they must be a man and woman with the right history, as well.  What an attempt to erase the validity of trans people *and* start down the path toward eugenics.  I notice they are unable to actually cite any reasons based on collected fact...

  2. Ian Ian Canada says:

    Hello, this article is incorrect in many respects. The selected ethicists you cite offer opinions that contravene many human-rights codes. It is their opinion these LGBT families are damaging to children, but that is discrimination based on protected characteristics, and has no scientific merit.

    The clinics who treated these patients are following their ethical codes which specifically do not bar trans people from receiving treatment. In the UK and within Canada, trans people are guaranteed equal access to health care. LGBT people have equal rights to form families under the internationally-recognized Yogyakarta Principles.

    I can confirm the previous reader comment. As a member of the international group, Birthing and Breastfeeding Transmen and Allies, I can tell you that many trans people have given birth and many are currently pregnant. This includes our own family. As this article does not reflect social or legal facts about LGBT families, I suggest your author revise or withdraw it.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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