More fucked-up reactions to Thomas Beatie’s pregnancy

// 5 April 2008

Thomas Beatie, the pregnant trans man who told his story in the Advocate a few weeks ago, went on Oprah this week with his wife, reigniting the ‘controversy’ (read: bigoted and ignorant media response).

Last month I highlighted the problems with the coverage of this story in the British press.

Well, the Bilerico Project summarises the repellant way the story was handled on Letterman, MSNBC and Fox. I watched the MSNBC clip and it involved a group of grown men and women – apparently they are newsreaders – sitting around a table making “ewww” noises and saying things like “you may want to cover your ears”, “I’m going to be sick”, “disgusting”, etc, in reaction to clips of Beatie and his wife on Oprah. I just don’t understand how something so vile and bigoted could make it onto the air.

And if you think it’s just right-wing idiots on American TV participating in all of this, check out the comments on the supposedly progressive Huffington Post.

More reaction over at Pam’s House Blend.

Comments From You

Claire // Posted 6 April 2008 at 12:23 am

I honestly don’t understand the reason for all the venom against him. What he’s doing is amazing and incredibly interesting. Instead he and his partner are being treated like a freak show. Best wishes to them and their baby.

Helen G // Posted 6 April 2008 at 8:22 am

Trans people are routinely criticised by some radfems for not ‘transgressing’ the gender binary and the associated ‘norms’. This, I think, is a good example of the reaction one may provoke if/when one does cross those binaristic limits.

I wish Thomas Beatie, his partner and their child all the love in the world. I hope that everything works out really well for them.

Steph Jones // Posted 6 April 2008 at 9:46 am

I was taken aback by some of the comments on some of the online newspapers, especially on the Daily Male. Remarks such as “she shouldn’t be able to have children”, “political correctness gone mad, its a mentally ill woman, not a man”, “she’s not fit to be a mother”, and such like.

The Thomas Beatie story intersects a number of inconveniences that people and societies would prefer not to want to deal with – and sadly this means that he is targetted for fire from all directions of society: for having been a woman, for having transitioned into a man, for being queer (I use ‘queer’ in its widest sense of transgressing social conforms of sexuality, gender), and for some out there, being pregnant too clearly takes it way out of their confort zones.

I just don’t understand the vitriol and abuse that these things attract – but if some of society still fails to accept gays, lesbians and transsexuals, this very situation rocks the whole foundation of heterosexist binary gender and it causes patriarchial society to start to tremble in his feet.

I wish him, his partner and child all the very best in the future… as the media and press reporting will have already shown, its a hostile world out there.

Sarah // Posted 6 April 2008 at 10:39 am

I can understand how it must seem odd to people who have never (to their knowledge) met anyone transgendered, and never done any reading or thinking or talking about the related issues before. But what bothers me is that if someone is transgendered people seem to lose all sense of them as a fellow human being, as a person, or any need to treat them and talk about them as such. My own very small personal experience of this comes from a time when I was younger and had a very androgynous look, in public many people were clearly unsure whether I was male of female, and the reactions bothered me, not just because people would stare and be curious, but because of comments like ‘eww, what is it’. ‘It’? So just because I don’t conform exactly to the dress and hairstyle and behaviour you expect for my gender, I’m not even a person in your eyes, I’m just a rather disgusting ‘thing’? I look far more ‘feminine’ these days, and such comments have disappeared (to be replaced by the ‘normal’ harassment women experience, but that’s another rant) but it gave me a tiny insight into how people react to perceived gender non-conformity. Hearing and reading about the experiences of others confirms my experience, and of course many suffer far worse than nasty comments.

But that’s what I see here – people don’t seem to even see Beattie as a person, just as a thing, a curiousity, a freak, an emblem of political correctness. Anything but a prospective parent and his partner delighted to be having a baby when it must once have seemed unlikely. Can’t people just be happy for them?

It sounds as though the child will be very much welcomed and loved, and we have absolutely no reason to think he or she will not be well cared for – isn’t that what actually matters here?

Helen // Posted 6 April 2008 at 10:47 am

I looked for a video of his Oprah interview on youtube, as I’m keen to hear more from him. I was shocked and appalled to see how many commenters simply refused to acknowledge that he was “really” a man. I just… can’t believe that anyone would insist that they know better than he does about his own gender. Ulgh.

Cruella // Posted 6 April 2008 at 7:05 pm

The weird thing is – every time a lesbian couple have a child the Daily Male is all over the “child needs a father figure” (personally I think that is a load of cr*p but…). Here are a couple with clearly defined father and mother figures, why aren’t they celebrating?

Michelle // Posted 7 April 2008 at 9:27 am

I too have been disgusted by the attitudes displayed towards Thomas.

I saw a clip of his interview with Oprah on the news a few nights ago, and I remember him saying that it’s a ‘human desire’ to want to have a child, not a specifically female or male one. I totally agree.

I think the hostile reactions to his pregnancy show just how embedded gender roles still are, particularly around child-bearing/raising. Why is it so unnerving for a man to have a child, to want to have a child? As Steph Jones said above, it’s likely to be because it makes the patriarchy tremble.

And I also agree with Sarah, that this is a child that is very much wanted and will be cared for, so what is the big deal? How does that bother anybody else? I also heard on the news that Thomas and his partner are preparing to go into hiding if the hostility gets too much; that’s awful when all they are doing is bringing a child into the world that is much wanted.

Bil Browning // Posted 10 April 2008 at 2:47 am

Thanks for linking us at the Bilerico Project, Jess. We appreciate the linkety love. Several of our contributors have weighed in on this now – but all of us are outraged at the way Thomas has been treated by the mainstream media.

Thanks for introducing me to the F Word, btw. I’ve enjoyed reading the front page. One quick question – I know some spaces are designated women-only. Is this one of them or is it okay to add you to my RSS feed and join in some of the discussions?

Jo // Posted 13 December 2008 at 9:13 pm


I watched the programe last week about Thomas having a baby and it sickened me to hear some of the disgusting comments people made about him. He is not harming anyone so what right do these idiots have to send him death threats or hope his baby is deformed. They (not Thomas) are the freaks.

I wish Thomas and his family all the luck in the world and hope they are left alone to enjoy their family.

Good luck in the future.

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