Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gender confusion - a woman who is a "man" who is pregnant

In the Western world's search for freedom to be and do whatever one desires - the issue of gender and sex roles is surely one of the most active areas of experimentation and flux .The following article describes a well known case of a woman who decided she wanted to be a man. Underwent surgery and hormonal treatment, married a woman and then upon discovery that "his" wife can't have children decided to become pregnant and bear a child.

Something that even the open-minded liberal NY Times entitled "He's pregnant, you're speechless
by Guy Trebay

WHEN Thomas Beatie gives birth in the next few weeks to a baby girl, the blessed event will mark both a personal milestone and a strange and wondrous crossroads in the evolution of American pop culture.

Mr. Beatie — as anyone who has turned on a television, linked to a blog or picked up a tabloid in the last few months is aware — is a married 34-year-old man, born a woman, who managed to impregnate himself last year using frozen sperm and who went public this spring as the nation’s first “pregnant father.”

That this story attracted attention around the world was hardly surprising. Who, after all, could resist the image of a shirtless Madonna, with a ripe belly on a body lacking breasts and with a square jaw unmistakably fringed by a beard? For a time, clips of Mr. Beatie’s appearance on “Oprah,” where he was filmed undergoing ultrasound, as well as shirtless images of him from an autobiographical feature in the Advocate magazine, were everywhere, and they were impossible to look away from.

Partly a carnival sideshow and partly a glimpse at shifting sexual tectonics, his image and story powered past traditional definitions of gender and exposed a realm that seemed more than passing strange to some observers — and altogether natural to those who inhabit it.

“This is just a neat human-interest story about a particular couple using the reproductive capabilities they have,” said Mara Kiesling, director of the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington. “There’s really nothing remarkable” about the Beatie pregnancy, she said.

Yet as the first pregnant transman to go public, Mr. Beatie has exposed a mass audience to alterations in the outlines of gender that may be outpacing our comprehension. In the discussions that followed his announcement, what became poignantly clear is that there is no good language yet to discuss his situation, words like an all-purpose pronoun to describe an idea as complex as a pregnant man.

“When there’s a lot of fascination around a figure like Thomas Beatie,” said Judith Halberstam, a professor of English and gender studies at the University of Southern California, “it points to other changes already happening elsewhere in the culture.”

Among the changes Ms. Halberstam noted are medical innovations that have expanded the possibilities for body modification. There are also studies that indicate, as Ms. HalberstamBeatie, who says of himself, “I am transgender, legally male, and legally married to Nancy,” but who might have trouble holding on to some of those assertions if he did something as simple as moving from Oregon.[...] noted, that women respond sexually to the individual, before differentiating by sex. And the broadening legal scope of marriage has also had its effects on people like Mr. who says of himself, “I am transgender, legally male, and legally married to Nancy,” but who might have trouble holding on to some of those assertions if he did something as simple as moving from Oregon.[...]

Issues like these have made Mr. Beatie’s story so compelling; the sense that trans identity in the Webster sense of the prefix signifies some threshold state of being — “across” or “beyond” or “through.”

Ms. Sedgwick said that if you look at postings on Web sites like Oprah Winfrey’s and The Huffington Post, “It seems as though there are lots and lots of comments saying: ‘That’s not a man having a baby. That’s a woman having a baby.’ ”

Partly that reaction results from what Ms. Sedgwick calls a phobic response to changes in identities that for most people seem God-given and settled at birth. Partly it is a matter “of people having to go through the stages of figuring things out,” she said.

As Ms. Kiesling, of the National Center for Transgender Equality, noted: “The long-term benefit of this story is not ‘Pregnant Man Trims Hedge,’ ” referring to a widely circulated photo of a bearded and pregnant Mr. Beatie wielding a power tool. “The Beatie story raises questions we’re all looking at now, in a lot of contexts,” about the welter of new possibilities produced by a landscape in which legalized same-sex partnerships reshape traditional ideas about husband and wife and mom and dad.[...]

By then his story may have served its purpose, Ms. Sedgwick said. It will have showed us that: “People experience gender very differently and some have really individual and imaginative uses to make of it. That’s an important thing for people to wrap their minds around.”

1 comment :

  1. What if Men had Babies?

    * Maternity leave would last two years....with full pay.

    * There would be a cure for stretch marks.

    * There really would be such a thing as "painless" childbirth.

    * Morning sickness would rank as the nation's #1 health problem.

    * Children would be kept in the hospital until toilet trained.

    * Briefcases would be made that could double as diaper bags.

    * Paternity suits would be a fashion line of clothes.

    * They'd stay in bed during the entire pregnancy.

    Carol Burnett once told Bill Cosby how he could understand what the childbirth experience was like. “Take your bottom lip,” she said, “pull it as far away from your face as you can, and now pull it over your head.”


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