To our neighbors...Nancy, and I don't appear in the least unusual. To those in the quiet Oregon community where we live, we are viewed just as we are - a happy couple deeply in love. Our desire to work hard, buy our first home, and start a family was nothing out of the ordinary.Until recently, having a child has been an issue for Thomas and Nancy. As Thomas explains:
[W]hen Nancy and I became a couple, the idea of us having a child was more dream than plan. I always wanted to have children. However, due to severe endometriosis 20 years ago, Nancy had to undergo a hysterectomy and is unable to carry a child. But after the success of our custom screen-printing business and a move from Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest two years ago, the timing finally seemed right.That's when Thomas decided he would carry the child.
And that's when the couple began to experience discrimination and animosity from several quarters, particularly from healthcare professionals.
This was especially painful for Thomas as the medical community had previously helped him become a man.
Thomas is transgender, legally male, and legally married to Nancy. According to Thomas, "Unlike those in same-sex marriages, domestic partnerships, or civil unions, Nancy and I are afforded the more than 1,100 federal rights of marriage."
In his neatly trimmed beard and moustache, with his stylish close cropped hair and flat chest, he looks like any other man and would not turn heads at the beach or the gym. Yet he can become pregnant and carry a child to term. He describes how this is still possible for him:
Sterilization is not a requirement for sex reassignment, so I decided to have chest reconstruction and testosterone therapy but kept my reproductive rights. Wanting to have a biological child is neither a male nor female desire, but a human desire....Thomas has not undertaken his pregnancy on a whim. He is not doing this as a publicity stunt (as another man claiming to be pregnant has done, promoting his own pregnancy via a website, blog and video archives.) In fact, Thomas did not publicly reveal his pregnancy until his third trimester. Yet the ramifications of his pregnancy are groundbreaking.
[To become pregnant] I stopped taking my bimonthly testosterone injections. It had been roughly eight years since I had my last menstrual cycle, so this wasn't a decision that I took lightly. My body regulated itself after about four months, and I didn't have to take any exogenous estrogen, progesterone, or fertility drugs to aid my pregnancy.
Writing in the April 8, 2008 issue of The Advocate, a US-based LBGT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender) magazine, Thomas says:
Our situation sparks legal, political, and social unknowns. We have only begun experiencing opposition from people who are upset by our situation. Doctors have discriminated against us, turning us away due to their religious beliefs. Health care professionals have refused to call me by a male pronoun or recognize Nancy as my wife. Receptionists have laughed at us. Friends and family have been unsupportive; most of Nancy's family doesn't even know I'm transgender.After initially seeing a reproductive endocrinologist, Thomas was turned away by the doctor who stated he and his staff felt uncomfortable working with someone like Thomas.
Because of the unique and controversial nature of what Thomas is doing, nine different doctors have been involved in the pregnancy.
To become pregnant, the couple had to obtain access to a sperm bank and purchase anonymous donor vials, and then perform at-home insemination.
Thomas' first pregnancy ended due to a life-threatening condition; he had an ectopic pregnancy with triplets, and surgery was necessary. Thomas lost a fallopian tube and was told by his brother, "It's a good thing that happened. Who knows what kind of monster it would have been." Yet these negative experiences didn't deter him from trying to become pregnant again.
Thomas' second pregnancy has gone smoothly with no complications, and he and Nancy are expecting a baby on July 3, 2008:
How does it feel to be a pregnant man? Incredible. Despite the fact that my belly is growing with a new life inside me, I am stable and confident being the man that I am. To Nancy, I am her husband carrying our child. I am so lucky to have such a loving, supportive wife. I will be my daughter's father, and Nancy will be her mother. We will be a family.