I gave birth to my baby, but I'm not a mother -- I'm a transgender man. I transitioned from female to male at the age of 23. A few short years late, I married the love of my life, Ian, and we decided to start a family. I got the okay from my doctors, stopped taking my testosterone and became pregnant. I easily made it through my pregnancy wearing baggy sweat pants and bulky hoodies. I was happy to have people think that I was just a regular guy eating a few too many sweets from the croissant shop down the road. I birthed my baby at home, under my own steam. I sent my own Mom flowers for Mother's Day, but in my house, I think we'll be celebrating something a bit different.
Transgender people in general are transitioning earlier nowadays than we used to, often before we reach our child-rearing years. Access to the psychologists, psychiatrists, endocrinologists and surgeons that are our medical gatekeepers is slowly improving, and these health care professionals are beginning to accept our community's diversity more fully. I felt confident and secure enough to transition as soon as I'd finished university and had a job and place of my own. I knew what I wanted to do, and quickly found a clinical psychologist who agreed that this was the right path for me. I don't believe that I had a choice to be or not to be transgender (I just am), but I feel grateful that I was able to choose to transition.
I decided to take testosterone and have a chest surgery, but not to have "bottom surgery." Creating a phallus is currently a risky procedure with a long recovery period and a not-necessarily satisfactory outcome. I am now fairly comfortable with my body because of my deep voice, beard and flat chest. As for the rest, I try not to think about it too much. I always "pass" as male, and as long as I've got my clothes on, nobody knows the difference.
I could have tried to stuff down my deep-seated desire to live my life as a man. I could have married and brought a child into this world as a woman. I could have breastfed that child with a full milk supply as a woman (to find out how I do breastfeed my baby, click here. But in doing these things, I would have been a miserable wreck of a parent. A number of my friends have transitioned while raising their young children or even later, and I do not envy them their considerable challenges in doing so -- having to come out to a spouse and kids must be confusing and painful for everyone involved.
To some people it may look like I am terribly mixed up, but in reality, I simply sorted my life out before starting my family. My child will not have to grow up with a depressed parent, nor will I ever have to explain to him that I am a different gender than what he thought all these years. I am, and will always be, his dad.
Going through the birth process itself was difficult for me. Trans guys are notorious for avoiding PAP smears or anything else that involves the "down-there" bits. I had no idea how I could possibly open up to let out a baby, given my intense discomfort with my own bottom half. When the time came, I reminded myself that I wanted an alert, healthy baby, free of any drugs that could pass through the placenta and into his little body if I took them. Ian, the only person in the world who I feel completely comfortable allowing to touch me, caught our baby under the careful supervision of our midwifery team.
I have an intense, close relationship with my 1-year-old baby. At the moment, he's going through something (teething maybe, or perhaps the beginning of a virus) that is bothering him, and he wants me all the time. I cuddle him, hold him, and breastfeed him because, like every baby, my boy needs secure emotional attachment to a loving adult. I do not feel that providing him with the closeness he requires is an inherently feminine task, although many women do fulfill this role beautifully in their own families. Just as adoption doesn't prevent a woman from being a real mother, birth, breastfeeding and snuggling don't make me into one, either. I hope everyone had a happy M/Other's Day!