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Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Pregnancy for trans women is around the corner – as an older trans woman, I couldn’t be happier

Trans and pregnant? There is no way to detach myself from this subject. Not just because I am trans. But because, from the moment I understood both the possibility that one day a trans woman would become pregnant, and the fact that it is far too late for an oldie like me – I was racked by a sense of overwhelming loss.

Image for representation only

Being trans meant I never got to grow up in the body and gender that should have been mine.

That is a lifetime fact to which I have learned to adjust and for which I daily compensate. I accept that somewhere out there in the infinite, a wire got crossed, a mistake made. I get it.

Except in one respect. Pregnancy. Being a mum. Not merely fathering a child, but carrying one within, giving birth and all the maternal existence that goes with that.

Why? I haven’t a clue. Like so much else about being trans, this feels like one more mystery where the surface has barely been scratched, despite the self-important certainty of “experts” in the field. I have children. I have never given birth to a child. Strictly, logically, it should make no difference. But it does.

At times, the thought alone was enough to reduce me to howling incoherence in a way that most things don’t. Never queen of the prom? Pfft! Who cares? Never dated Hugh Jackman? A tragedy! For him, of course. But never a mother? It is difficult even to type that and ... fourth wall break ... this is the point where I stop writing in order to stand up, make a cup of tea and – yes – grab a tissue.

In more detached moments, I theorise. Perhaps it was always there, sublimated within the greater whole of my transness. Other times, I wonder if it links to the hormones that now permeate my body. My oestrogen levels regularly nudge those of the average pregnant person: perhaps I am triggering some epigenetic mechanism not unlike whatever mechanism it is that suddenly, mid-career, drives certain folk to trade everything for having a child.

Maybe it is social conditioning. Much that I assumed about myself in terms of sex and sexuality seems to have radically re-written itself post-transition. From a lukewarm attraction to only the prettiest most androgynous of guys to a sudden and inexplicable lust for inappropriate, muscular types. The sex drive, never much to write home about, now attenuated to near non-existence.

I live my life in constant puzzlement.

Am I alone in holding to this last impossible fantasy? Do I not know that expert in the inner workings of the trans mind, Germaine Greer, has declared that no trans woman would ever wish this?

In 1999, she wrote: “No so-called sex-change has ever begged for a uterus-and-ovaries transplant; if uterus-and-ovaries transplants were made mandatory for wannabe women they would disappear overnight.”

Such statements reek of ignorance. Surely she knows that it was complications arising from an attempted uterus transplant that led to the death of Lili Elbe, the world’s first trans woman to undergo surgical intervention?

Because the surgeons who pioneered gender reassignment might have understood the body’s mechanics, have had good technical skills – but they failed to understand how the body is set up to reject any implant that it views as alien.

It is hard to comprehend how someone can simultaneously claim such insight into the trans state, yet be so unaware of what nonsense this claim is. Or if she is aware, so cruel.

Has she ever talked to trans women? I have. And while I’ve never analysed the numbers, I’d guess at least half of those with whom I talk share my view to greater or lesser extent. Older trans women, like myself, mourn the might-have-been. Younger ones write excitedly about how, one day in the not too distant future, such transplants might be.

The more cynical guess is that the procedure will be too complex, too expensive to be ever available on the NHS. So optimism is tinged with jealousy towards those select affluent few who will be able to access it.

Because, it is coming. The first uterus transplants for non-trans women have happened. Across the world, the technique is being honed, becoming more successful. Experts are clear: at some point in the next decade or so a trans woman will receive a uterus. And not long after that a trans woman will become pregnant.

It is, after all, as one surgeon has declared, a human right.

Tissues again! The longing for what cannot be is near overwhelming.

Meanwhile, in the Mumsnet forums, I see the transphobes declaring, already, that they would rather no part of their body ever be available for transplant that a trans woman might benefit from. This is futile. Tissue typing and social factors make it most likely that the first donors will be the mothers of trans women.

Seeking comment on this issue, I found joy in this simple declaration from the mum of a young trans woman: “I would love to gift my trans daughter with my uterus someday. There would be something immensely magical in her bearing a child from the same uterus she was born from.”

The response, from another trans woman: “The most beautiful post I have ever read.”

Pregnancy for my trans sisters is coming. When it happens I shall celebrate and mourn in equal measure. I shall be happy for the lucky few.

Elsewhere, expect yet more re-arranging of the deckchairs as those who take the Greer – line and explain, at the drop of a hat, all the reasons trans women are not women – find new reasons to repackage their exclusivity.

Having a womb and giving birth don’t make you a woman, I expect one of them to declare around 2030.

They are right, of course, But for reasons quite opposite to what they believe. And one day not so far off now, a trans woman will become a mum.

Thanks for this article to Independent | Image source: nirvair.in

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