Trans-parent, but visible.
I would like to forewarn that this article contains triggering themes, including miscarriage, suicidal ideation, self-harm, transphobia, and verbal abuse/harassment.
It’s been my dream to have children since I was a child myself. My goals were always to become a nurse/teacher/veterinarian/writer/firefighter/astronaut and to be a parent. I decided I would adopt when I was about 12. Bingo! Done planning.
So, when I took a pregnancy test at 19 and two lines appeared, I was extremely confused. Why?
Because I’m a man. That’s right; a man. Always have been, always will be. But... I’m also the proud owner of a uterus.
You see, I was born with two X chromosomes, assigned female at birth because of the structure of my body. I can’t blame anyone for that. It’s not like my mom’s obstetrician had insight on my brain from the moment I took my first breath, but I’ve never been female. So in regards to this test? I didn’t really want it.
Six months prior to this event, I lost a baby. We were in the second trimester, and I didn’t know about her until she was already gone. I had started taking hormones months earlier, and when my period stopped, I guessed that was the reason why. When it came back, heavy and excruciatingly painful, I knew that wasn’t the case anymore.
With this test, I sat in the bathroom of my shared house, tapping my pee stick on my palm, filled with excitement and crushing anxiety. I wanted a baby so desperately, but I didn’t know if I wanted to give up my life for nine months. As a transgender person, I knew that would be the case.
Boy, did I underestimate it.
It started out... weird. Let me add that I was on HRT for 10 months before becoming pregnant, so I was pretty passing. People were so convinced that I was cis that they didn’t believe me when I said I was pregnant, including a coworker when I called off for sudden bleeding. He said to me, “you seriously want me to tell them you’re pregnant? You’re a man.” Yes, genius, I’m aware. Write the damn note.
But then as I started showing more, it became totally opposite. Even when I was telling people I was transgender, they would just shrug me off. I had a coworker who would correct me when I was correcting people on my pronouns! That’s harassment, which is illegal in my state. And what did my employer do?
I walked into the break room one day to relax my swollen legs during a 12 hour shift, eight months pregnant, only to overhear a group of women calling me slurs (also, “that he/she”) and saying that boys can’t get pregnant. What did my employer do?
A woman in a pregnancy group commented on a post I made, outing myself as transgender and willing to answer any questions anyone had. Instead of asking a question to expand her mind, she told me she wished I would have a stillbirth and that it was a good thing I miscarried my first child. Others told me I was going to ruin my child, and that I didn’t deserve to have children. I was already at my lowest mentally when I received these comments.
I wanted to die. I wanted to stop being pregnant. I would sob when my baby moved inside of me because I didn’t want her there. When it was at its worst, I cut my belly. I now have scars residing around my hip bones that are a constant reminder of the horror I went through and did to myself.
I faced this kind of harassment even after my daughter was born and I returned to work. It got so bad that I stopped correcting people who were too close-minded to listen to me. Luckily, I had several other people there to lift me up and see me for who I actually am rather than just a pregnant person who, apparently, absolutely has to be a woman. I’d also like to shout out my amazing OB/GYN, who respected my identity, never once failed a pronoun, and informed hospital staff that I was to be called dad when I delivered. She’s a real one.
The concept of men bearing children isn’t new. Trystan Reese was heavily publicized two or three years ago, and he wasn’t the first pregnant man by any means. His journey is partially what got me through mine.
However, even with this, we still haven’t regularly picked up on inclusive language.
I’ve come to terms with my pregnancy and sliding headfirst into fatherhood. But if there’s one thing that still gets me emotional every now and again, it’s not being able to relate to anything. Everything is either so heavily focused on being about (spotlights here) MOMS or about how lazy dads are and how they don’t understand what a (another spotlight) WOMAN has gone through while child bearing.
Hi! I’m a dad. I’m also a birth parent. I’ve been through the throes of pregnancy and childbirth, and I’m an involved, full-time dad. And while I’m at it, I’d also like to point out that parents with penises aren’t always dads either. Trans moms exist, and they are JUST as badass as cis moms!
So, anyways, inclusive language is really important, especially to people like me who were seemingly dragged through hell during what should be one of the happiest moments of their lives. And I’m damn proud of myself and my body for making an entirely new human being.
Your neighborhood seahorse dad