Thomas Beatie’s not the first pregnant man …

I’m excited about the media frenzy surrounding Thomas Beatie and his pregnancy. It’s a great opportunity to introduce the world to trans issues and start some real education in places it has not yet reached. It’s refreshing for someone who has been living in a queer bubble most of their adult lives.

But though Beatie may be getting all the attention, he is not the first.

There have been various angles of speculation on male pregnancy and an in-depth investigation by a woman who wants to convince her bio male husband to carry her child.

But in a situation strikingly similar to Beatie’s current pregnancy, though nearly a decade ago, Patrick Califia and his partner Matt Rice, both transmen, had a baby. They chronicled their story in the Village Voice and Pat Califia has been a prominent writer, sex therapist and BDSM advocate in the queer community since the 70s.

So why all the fuss now?

As sensational and outlandish as Thomas and Nancy Beatie may seem when thrust into the mainstream and onto the Oprah show, they are a hell of a lot more palatable than the Califia-Rice’s. Despite that they have a fairly normal daily existence as an aging couple with a kid, health problems (Califia suffers from the painful and tiring fibromyalgia) and day jobs, they are anything but safe as media stars.

They live in sin.

I can’t begin to catalog the many ways in which Califia would be considered a sinner in Christian doctrine. But on a very basic level Califia and Rice are not and will never be married. I highly doubt, given Califia’s queer theoretical ideals, that he’d care to engage in such a heteronormative process at all but even if they wanted to they could not marry. Though Beatie and Rice share an existence as pregnant transmen, Beatie is straight. Rice and Califia are gay men. In fact Califia claims the only negative feedback they received after Rice became pregnant was from other transmen:

The only people who’ve gotten upset are a handful of straight-identified homophobic FTMs online who started calling Matt by his girl name, because real men don’t get pregnant. One of these bigots even said it would be better for our baby to be born dead than be raised by two people who are “confused about their gender.”

I suppose it’s possible that one could have chosen to legally change their sex post-surgery and one could have chosen not to, but who gets to live legally with their real identity and who has to hide behind the veil of legal jargon?

There has been talk here and there of the possibility of gays and lesbians having sex changes in order to marry. I find this highly doubtful. Besides the cost — emotional and physical as well as financial — of transitioning, going through such a process completely invalidates who you are. This is the complete antithesis of the mindset of most trans individuals, and, arguably various kinds of (queer) people in general.

On an even scarier level, Califia is not just a gay man, not just a transman, not just a radical lesbian. He is a brash and outspoken leather daddy, porn writer, sex therapist, and all around sex-positive envelope-pusher. He has been criticized by anti-porn feminists, and had his writing seized at the Canadian border. His numerous books have titles like “Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex” (the link is safe for work I swear!). He transitioned late in life and supports the growing movement of genderqueers, who prefer not to conform to male or female norms.

But he is also a loving parent and a pillar of our queer community. He’s every bit as much our neighbor as the delicate and soft-spoken Thomas Beatie, and I hope, like the rest of us, he rides this wave of trans-visibility to a more tolerant America.

1 comment to Thomas Beatie’s not the first pregnant man …

  • mesborg

    OK, So a woman who has deceided to become a man is having a baby, What is the big deal? Was this an inpossibility due to his/her operation? No… so look at it this was a being that was built to be pregnant is having a baby… what’s the big deal???