What Cost Reproduction??
Childbirth in transgender circles has made it into the headlines yet again. This is no quip about whether transpeople should be allowed to have children or not. Rather, it is about the fact that with Thomas Beatie (a transsexual man) giving birth to a baby girl on the 4th of July 2008, precedence was set, according to Diva 149. Although it is interesting that something like this has happened, one is left wondering if Africa is ready for this sort of questioning of traditional gender identities. I ought to know. Once upon a time while working for an organisation called, The Landmark, an HIV/AIDS charity- I was asked if I was interested in having a child no to mention the insulting suggestion that I offer myself up for a coital test run. The only answer I could give under the particular circumstances I found myself in was, NO!? Medical technology might be able to achieve surgical and hormonal transition in people; childbirth for transwomen is not on the cards at the moment.
Transpeople and the question of procreation or reproduction depending on what side of the fence one finds oneself was a mute point but when it finally found voice in Thomas Beatie’s experience I felt for the much unsung persons in Africa or even in the Diaspora. Although I felt like cheering, HURRAH but the words got stuck deep down in my throat. It is anyone’s guess why transwomen cannot rejoice in the same way the Beaties of the world can.
As I thought about reproduction, I felt a sudden lurch. I discovered how difficult things could get with floating questions such as: Do you have children? or Are you going to have kids? as someone asked me at the transgender evening at the Lambeth Conference; in this life, nothing gets easier or so it seems at the moment.
Apart from the paranoid reaction of the hetero-normative system that seems maddened at every opportunity there is no reason why transpeople cannot have children or for now be efficient wet nurses. Or is there? If there is then the paranoia claim has not been settled yet. On the other hand try again in one hundred and fifty years in the future, Africa might have joined the club of progress and proudly so.
Although Thomas Beatie was happy to keep his female bits, transwomen do not have, as of now, the luxury of having a womb hence joining other women that did not want to have children or those that could not. This is one moment where transwomen feel that we have been failed by medical sciences and research.
Personally, I know a couple whom I will call Mr and Mrs. Bridgegate who would happily help in this scarcely researched area. We actually talked to one consultant who was interested in researching the area of childbirth in transwomen without precedence to support or encourage any such research at the moment nothing of that sort can happened yet to our dismay, they said almost simultaneously. Besides, expect that reasonable treatment as transpeople with regard to reproduction (i.e. procreation) for transwomen is a long way off. Trans-experience hasn’t even found a foothold on the continent yet except in South Africa but even there no evidence seems to exist of a transwoman giving birth. This most likely is a worldwide void at present.
Self survival has taught me that exile is sometimes a better standpoint than the life threatening notion of charity begins at home especially if homecoming becomes a minefield out LGBTI members could literally be taking the wrong step going on holiday in their countries of origin. Without being mawkish about the difficult ride transwomen face in this context, Thomas Beatie asked questions of standard reproduction from conception to childbirth, all I can say is a big CONGRATULATION!! To father/mother, and daughter (and the rest of us in good time at least our chance will come generations hence.) Meanwhile, we should keep our history making heads up!!