“Pregnant man” gives birth

// 4 July 2008

Thomas Beatie, the so-called "pregnant man" (see also these previous posts here, here and here) gave birth to a baby girl on 29 June in Oregon, according to this report by Reuters. Father and daughter were said to be "healthy and doing well".

It is reported that the baby was not delivered by Caesarean section, but no other details about the birth were given.

"The only thing different about me is that I can’t breast-feed my baby. But a lot of mothers don’t", Mr Beatie was quoted as saying.

I, for one, wish the Beatie family good health and every happiness for the future, and await with interest, not only his forthcoming book about the experience, but also the ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’ kneejerk reactions and hate speech which is likely to reappear once the mass media wake up to the ‘newsworthy’ aspects of the birth (see, for example, the comments after this article in The Times and this one at ABC News.

(Cross-posted at bird of paradox)

Comments From You

Shev // Posted 4 July 2008 at 9:26 am


My friend had her baby last night as well – a good day for queers to give birth, obviously!!

Right – who’ll join me in wetting the babies’ heads?

*pops open bottle of fizzy-good-make-feel-nice*

Helen G // Posted 4 July 2008 at 9:31 am

Shev: Congratulations to your friend, too! Hope all are healthy and well.

*clinks imaginary glass*

Cheers! :)

Sheenagh // Posted 4 July 2008 at 9:38 am

Whilst the comments are predictably awful, I was quite impressed that the Times had clearly made an attempt to get all the pronouns right, and refer to ‘mothering’ and ‘fathering’ in the way the couple wanted. (Not being an expert, nor a friend of the couple, I wouldn’t want to say they have definitely got it right, but it does look like they took it seriously)

Lew // Posted 4 July 2008 at 11:08 am

I noticed that almost all of the negative comments are from men. While, of course, they don’t represent all men, or hopefully -many- men.. You just have to think that the poor darlings are having their masculinity threatened. Bless.

Redheadinred // Posted 4 July 2008 at 1:06 pm

Um, why is this post describing Thomas as ‘so-called “pregnant man”‘? Is that supposed to indicate that Thomas Beatie isn’t a real man, because he’s transsexual?

Congratulations to the whole family. Another indication that we’re moving on as a society…

Anji // Posted 4 July 2008 at 1:09 pm

Doesn’t referring to him as ‘the so-called “pregnant man”‘ perpetuate the transphobic stereotypes? He wasn’t “pregnant”, he was pregnant. He isn’t a “man”, he’s a man and he’s not a “so-called” anything at all.

Shev // Posted 4 July 2008 at 2:11 pm

Anji and Redheadinred, I do have to agree with you there. I was actually very surprised at Helen’s choice of words, but chose to overlook it because I’m all of a fizz with happiness today.

F Word, please have the respect to refer to people by their chosen pronouns without the need to draw attention to it with inverted commas or similar.

Anne Onne // Posted 4 July 2008 at 2:52 pm

Congratulations to all, and a hope that they get as peaceful and happy a life as possible! We cna only hope the media let them live in peace, and that as a society, we are moving on.

I thought the use of speech marks was more to highlight the difficulty the media had with the idea of a pregnant man, and the scare tactics used reporting the pregnancy, but I agree that pregnant would have been better without the punctuation.

polly styrene // Posted 4 July 2008 at 4:54 pm

Can i offer an alternative view?Whilst obviously wishing Thomas Beatie and his family well on a personal level, and recognising his entitlement to live in any gender he chooses, I question whether this means we’ve moved on as Anne Onne puts it.

I’d also like to ask Redheadinred what she thinks a ‘real man’ is. Because I always thought gender roles like ‘man’ and ‘woman’ were social constructs. So how can anyone be a ‘real man’ or a ‘real woman’ in that case. Thomas Beatie is not an ‘unreal’ man, because man is just a word, and a way of categorizing people. It means whatever it is generally culturally accepted to mean.

In the place he lives he is legally recognized as a ‘man’ and therefore has the right to marry a woman. Whereas a woman who wanted to marry a woman wouldn’t have that right. Again – how is that progress? It just says you have to be a man to marry a woman – ie have a culturally sanctioned sexual relationship.

For instance apparently Thomas Beatie’s wife Nancy said on Oprah that their parental roles were going to be ‘traditional’. Which all sounds fairly heteronormative to me. How does that change anything? It just reinforces the status quo. Men marry women and they have families.

So the heteronormative status quo seems pretty intact here to me.

queen emily // Posted 4 July 2008 at 7:11 pm

Oh right. Nothing less threatening to straight people than transsexuals eh Polly.

Certainly nobody ever denies trans people’s genders by conflating biology with identity. Or denies civil rights or commits violence on those grounds (“really a man/woman” as justification). Right.

Thomas Beattie has very publicly radically estranged biology from gender role, no matter how conservative his family structure might be.

That *is* progress, and even as it appears to fit it in some sense, this problematises the heteronormative nuclear system simply by virtue of his transness.

It’s ludicrous to say that a marriage with a trans partner is culturally sanctioned in the US. It’s not socially, and it’s only sometimes legally, since depending on where you travel, the legality of your marriage changes. Change states, suddenly you’re not married. And married trans people are specifically excluded from immigration to the US too.

My gosh, it’s almost like trans people, even the straight ones, are denied rights like gays and lesbians. Who knew?

Redheadinred // Posted 4 July 2008 at 8:45 pm

polly styrene, a real man, to me, is someone who identifies as a man. If TB wants to identify as such, that’s what he is. What I was asking was whether the person who wrote ‘so-called “pregnant man”‘ was indicating that they didn’t think Thomas Beatie was a man because he’s transsexual.

Helen G // Posted 4 July 2008 at 9:29 pm

Redheadinred, Anji, Shev, Anne Onne – You’re right, I’m wrong. No excuses. Apologies for my lack of thought.

Lisa Harney // Posted 5 July 2008 at 6:01 am

I like how Thomas Beatie, as a man who gave birth to a child, is reinforcing heteronormativity.

Polly, you’re letting your prejudices get in the way of making sense again.

Sally // Posted 5 July 2008 at 10:56 am

If a (trans)man is somehow upholding “heteronormatively”, Polly Styrene, then I think its time you might retire? In fact, its so “heteronormative”, all of the heteronormative and ‘straight’ society is totally relaxed and supportive of Mr Beattie aren’t they?

Helen G // Posted 5 July 2008 at 1:21 pm

Here in Blogdonia, one thing that’s guaranteed to make my heart sink is the appearance of the cultural feminist tendency over the horizon. Because it inevitably heralds a grinding downshifting of gears and the driving of any chance of any meaningful discussion into the ditch. Then there follows an immense amount of wheelspin and mud-spraying, generally on aspects of theory which have been discussed fruitlessly a million times before and would be better conducted either in a 101 blog, or, preferably, on said cultural feminists’ own blogs which the rest of us could then safely disregard, unless we were looking for gratuitous insults and abuse or simply wished to lose the will to live.

This post is a case in point. Anne Onne touched on a subject – the difficulty the media had with the idea of a pregnant man, and the scare tactics used reporting the pregnancy – which would have been an avenue worth exploring in more depth, but no, instead we’re now bogged down in that tired old Social-Constructivist Law Of Gender™.

Okay, some say that gender is merely a societal response to physical sexual differences – and some say that we have an innate sense of being gendered from which come ways of behaving, ways that society calls ‘female’ or ‘male’, ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ and that these behaviours are generally what is meant when we refer to gender roles, gender presentation and gender expression.

I’d be happy to leave it there but the cultural feminist tendency have made it abundantly clear on numerous occasions that they will not tolerate dissenters to the One True Way Of Feminism – okay fine, we get it. But how about this for a radical idea: let’s agree to disagree and move the debate on to other issues? Maybe we can find things we do agree about and can work together on, in the hope that we can maybe make a positive contribution to feminist debate.

To my mind, whether or not gender is socially constructed would be largely irrelevant to discussing, for example, if the media’s treatment of Mr Beatie tells us anything about the way society thinks about transsexual men generally. Advances in medical techniques have made many aspects of gender and sex more malleable than ever before, and Mr Beatie’s case seems to have made many people question the way that they think about pregnancy: can we draw any consensus conclusions about that?

But why talk about such things when there are trans women out there who still haven’t been browbeaten into justifying their existence to the satisfaction of a pseudo-situationist minority? Much more fun, yes?

…*le sigh*…

Right, if anybody would like a glass, I’m going to open a bottle of wine while I wait to see who’s going to be first to demand to know Just What, Exactly, Does This Have To Do With Feminism? followed by a vicious personal attack and a comprehensive belittling of trans people in the process.

Lisa Harney // Posted 5 July 2008 at 5:39 pm

Very nicely said, and better than I could do atm.

Shea // Posted 5 July 2008 at 6:29 pm

Shev congrats to your friend and to Thomas Beatie, I’m cracking open the cava as I write :-).

Helen G I agree with you, the issue is absolutely how viciously the media have portrayed Thomas Beatie and his partner, not the issue of gender per se.

But I also think your right, gender and sexuality are malleable, fluid concepts, they always have been even before the development of medical technology.

Its makes me laugh that so many people are desperate to portray Thomas Beatie as a *woman* despite his choice otherwise (if it is a choice, I’m apt to think gender and sexuality are as much a choice as eye colour) purely on the basis of him having a uterus and ovaries and an extra X chromosome. Its such a narrow construct that a woman is only a woman if she has the genitalia and reproductive capacity, what about women with hysterectomies or women with androgen insensitivity syndrome? Are they any less “women” because they lack ovaries and a uterus and have a Y chromosome. If Thomas Beatie identifies as a man, then everyone, feminists included should respect that, if he chooses to make use of his anatomy to have a child then good on him. I can’t understand these people who think he should have had a hysterectomy when she became a he. Its none of their business. I hope everyone just leaves them alone now and lets them enjoy parenthood in peace.

LauraR // Posted 6 July 2008 at 10:37 pm

I have to say I am amazed at all the hoo-ha surrounding this. A man has not given birth. A woman – or, a person with a woman’s reproductive organs – has given birth, just as many other women do. There is nothing unusual about this, and I certainly don’t consider it newsworthy. What next? In the news tomorrow: day follows night.

Helen G // Posted 7 July 2008 at 8:53 am

Laura R: And I’m amazed to see such a breathtaking lack of knowledge and empathy. May I humbly suggest you familiarise yourself with what transsexuality (the extreme form of gender dysphoria) actually is? At least then you may be able to avoid embarrassing yourself with similarly crass and offensive remarks next time.

The NHS Direct website has an easy-to-follow description about this condition, link here. If you’d please make the time to read it and at least try to understand, it may help you to be able to make more considered and informed comments in future.

Thank you


LauraR // Posted 7 July 2008 at 12:06 pm

Helen G – I do not lack either knowedge or empathy. My philosophy has always been live and let live, and my comments were not transphobic. I think each individual of every race, gender, sexuality etc etc is entitled to live their life exactly as they want to, providing of course that in doing so they are not harming others.

My problem is with the reporting of this story – ‘Man Gives Birth!’ scream the headlines. It’s misleading because it implies that some miracle of science has been achieved. There is no miracle in a uterus bearing a child, that is my point.

I will just finish by saying that, as with my previous post, I AM writing from a ‘considered and informed’ perspective and I would ask you to refrain from patronising a fellow poster who is here because, surprisingly, she considers herself a feminist.

Thank you

Laura R.

Helen G // Posted 7 July 2008 at 12:19 pm

Laura, I’m not going to argue with you; I’ve no wish to fall out with anyone.

But this whole thread has had an unhappy history; it hasn’t advanced the wider discussion one jot and I don’t believe it will.

Thank you all for posting, comments on this topic are now closed.


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