Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Brave New Frontier?

Yes, I'm walking the line again...

I have to admit, I'm kind of flummoxed by this story I read today. A transgendered man is pregnant with a baby girl and due to give birth this July.


This gets my attention for a lot of reasons. I'm not particularly judgemental about straight-gay issues. I pretty much figure I have no business worrying about someone else's sex life. I don't even particularly care that a woman might decide to become a man and then have a baby. Whatever floats your boat.

What does get my attention is the medical intervention required to make this possible and the question of whether we may be messing around with Mother Nature a bit too much. According to the article I read in the Times Online, Thomas Beatie (formerly known as Tracy Lagondino) underwent gender reassignment surgery that involved chest reconstruction and testosterone therapy, but chose to keep his(?) reproductive rights (in other words, all the internal female organs).

The mind boggles.

The article mentions that Beatie stopped taking testosterone therapy and was able to conceive through artificial insemination without the need for additional hormone therapy. There is some concern that the baby could be affected by the testosterone that has been injected into his system over the last ten years since his ovaries and eggs have been exposed to the abnormally high levels the whole time. At this point I admit, I have a hard time thinking of Beatie as a "he" since I'm writing about eggs and ovaries, but legally, he is a man.

As I sit here writing this I do wonder if I have the right to judge the decision Beatie has made. I'm a little uncomfortable that this story makes me squirm a little bit. I like to think I'm open minded and I do think it's very brave of Beatie to come forward and talk about his story. His is married and his wife is unable to have children, which prompted his extraordinary choice to conceive.

At the same time I wonder at the things we, as humans, decide to do sometimes. I know a woman who used a method called MicroSorting to ensure that her last child would be a girl. I'm amazed, and yet appalled that we have gotten to the point that we are now choosing the gender of our children. I know-- I shouldn't make that kind of a judgement. But jeez, how much of a control freak do you have to be to go through that much trouble to make sure your kid is the proper gender? All I'm saying is that I can't say that only choosing to keep the male child has worked all that well for the Chinese, so maybe we should leave some things up to nature (or God if you prefer) to decide.

At any rate, science is allowing human beings to take remarkable liberties with our reproductive choices and I'm not sure what I think about it. One the one hand, I have friends who have beautiful children they wouldn't have been able to have without In Vitro fertilization and I can rationalize that as a good use of science. But can I argue that they are more deserving of a child than Beatie? Mostly, I'd say no. But there may be issues with the health of the baby Beatie is expecting due to his previous hormone therapy and I must admit, that makes me a little less open minded about his decision to conceive.

That said, the baby is on its way and I hope for a healthy happy child.


Franki said...

I had to watch Transgeneration for my Critical Theory class. It follows 4 college students as they go thru sexual reclassification processes. I can't decide if this like a mental illness or a "real thing" or what. I know that's terrible insensitive. I just kept thinking, "Thank the gods I didn't have that problem, nor my children."

Life is hard enough.

furiousBall said...

When I hear about this, it always makes me wonder, could these doctors and medical staff as resources be used in a better place? Like maybe vaccinating children in poor neighborhoods?

Jean-Luc Picard said...

One of the stranger stories around.

SQT said...


I think that's one of the reasons I don't think being gay or transgendered is a choice. Why would anyone choose that?


Exactly. Just because we can doesn't mean it's a good idea.

Jean Luc


Charles Gramlich said...

The baby could definitely and probably will definitely be affected by the hormone therapies required. I rather hope this isn't true, but if it is the person is being quite selfish.

SolShine7 said...

These are strange times.