Friday, April 25, 2008

The Pregnant Man: How society cannot accept Beatie’s theory of “Different is Normal”

By, Amber Alexander

Falling in love, getting married, starting a family; that is the plan most people today strive for. One couple from Oregon found just that, however it might not be exactly what you expect. Thomas Beatie and his wife Nancy are expecting a healthy baby girl. What’s weird about that you ask? Well instead of Nancy being the expecting mother, Thomas is the expecting father. Now I know you might be thinking that is not possible but let me explain. Thomas was born a female named Tracy Lagondino but decided to become a man. At one time he was the runner up for Miss Teen Hawaii but always considered himself more as a tomboy (Siddique). Thomas did not have a full sex change operation because he had a dream he would someday have a family. So instead he kept his female organs and decided to just have chest reconstructive surgery and take bimonthly doses of testosterone (Pregnant). Thomas is legally a man and is also pregnant; this is where all the controversy begins. In this paper I am examining how Oprah was not completely unbiased in her special with the Beaties, about how hard society has made it for this couple to get as far as they have come with the pregnancy, and how society cannot get around their idea of normal and stop focusing on unimportant questions.

Just recently Oprah brought the Beatie couple onto her show to share their story with the world. I commend her for trying to educate people about the transgender culture however I believe she is still stuck in the attitude of the social norm just like her viewers. She dedicated a portion of the section on what exactly Thomas’ genitalia look like and just seemed not to be able to move on from that question. They had to know what it looked like in order to really understand. But this in fact goes against the whole point Thomas Beatie is trying to get across. He is trying to get people to see it does not matter what organs or genitalia he has in order to determine his sex. Mr. Beatie has the organs that are associated with females, however not only does he consider himself a man but legally he is a male (Siddique). Another problem I had with Oprah was yes she might be a social icon and has interviewed almost everyone, but what gives her the right to question someone about something so personal? Why can she ask Thomas what he has between his legs and how his wife and him perform sexually in the bed? If she were to ask those same questions to a straight person, that would be considered unacceptable and almost unethical. So why with a transsexual does all the respect and privacy just get thrown out of the window? Oprah is seen as a public figure that does not judge and shows no bias towards others; however with this story I believe she has fallen short of her expectations.

Having a baby may not be as easy as the stork leaving a baby on your doorstep, however conceiving a child through what we know as the “normal” means (sexual intercourse between a man and woman) for most is not that difficult. This was not the case for the Beaties. Since they could not conceive a child through “normal” intercourse, they decided to inseminate Thomas and he would be the surrogate. The process of insemination through medical professionals is a long and expensive one, but even that was not even close to what the Beaties underwent (Siddique). According to The Advocate, a gay magazine who Beatie gave the first interview to, the couple was turned down by several doctors who refused to be a part of or aid in Thomas carrying a child. One doctor charged a $300 fee for a single consultation and then took the case to his hospital’s board of ethics. After treating Thomas for several months and taking thousands of dollars from the couple the doctor decided to cease treatment because he did not feel comfortable working with “someone like him” (Beatie). That right there shows how ignorant many people are today. This especially outrages me because the doctor gave an oath to treat those who need to be treated to the best of his ability. The doctor simply turns his back on his patient because he does not share the same views, but to me the doctor should not have that right. That is plain and simple discrimination. The Beaties went through 9 different doctors just trying to get inseminated (Beatie). Mr. Beatie was getting hit at from every angle, professionals disrespecting him left and right. Examples of how he was being disrespected were refusing to treat him unless he would shave his facial hair or refusing to refer to him with a male pronoun. The couple finally gave up and turned to home insemination. It took over a year for the sperm banks to let the couple purchase donated sperm and when they received it Nancy used a syringe and inseminated her husband herself. This show that this couple will go to any lengths to have the family they want and deserve. Their first attempt was unsuccessful but this time around the doctors say the baby girl so far is perfectly healthy (Beatie). Doctors and mothers alike express that this is not natural; doctors have refused service and mothers are protesting. However the irony I see is that women who are infertile and cannot have children turn to science for help, well that certainly is not natural so why is that accepted but not this?

Since society has this idea of set norms, it is very hard for many to grasp what Mr. Beatie is and why this family would take this route to having a baby. Transgender life is a big mystery for many people. Many times transgender and homosexuality are lumped together but that is not the case. One’s ignorance is a dangerous weapon. People refuse to try to understand this different lifestyle or even to attempt to see it as a husband and wife trying to have a baby. They get stuck on the unimportant questions like what do your genitals look like to determine male or female instead of the person’s identity they have chosen. One big idea today’s society has is that non nuclear families are unfit to have and raise children. That somehow their sexual identity or sexual preference makes or breaks a parent. This idea to me is ludicrous. This couple is a perfect example, they have jumped through so many hoops, spent thousands of dollars, and countless time just trying to conceive a child. To go through so much proves that there is nothing the Beaties want more than to be good parents and raise a child of their own. It is incredible to me that our government will let children sit in orphanages and group homes instead of letting same sex couples and other non heterosexual couples have a chance to give these children kind, loving homes and family that they long for. People keep asking questions like, what are you going to tell your daughter when she grows up? How is she going to be able to live a normal life knowing how she was brought into this world? With today’s society we would probably put her on a reality show and try to see how different she is. What the Beaties want people to know is that they will tell their daughter everything when she is old enough. They want people to understand that she will have a loving family and grow up just like any other child.

The biggest problem I see with today’s society is that we refuse to accept the “different” or “not normal”. The problem with that is what is “normal”? Who decides what is or is not “normal”? We think that with taboo people and things that we can throw respect, courtesy, and privacy out of the window, that somehow they are less human. We cannot let this continue. Like with Oprah, I do not think she acted as she did on purpose, it is just that our roots of the accepted social norms are deep and we must make a conscious and continuous effort to uproot them and develop open minds. Thomas plans to still be his daughter’s father and Nancy will be her mother, the only difference is the way she was brought into this world. Mr. Beatie tries to explain it like this, "our daughter is beating these incredible odds to get here--physical obstacles, social obstacles, everything, and in my dreams I dream the world will see her just the way we do. As this amazing gift to us. As a miracle" (Tresniowski).


¨ Journal Article:

o Tresniowski, Alex. "He's Having a Baby!" People (2008). Academic Search Complete. 22 Apr. 2008.

¨ Other Sources:

o Beatie, Thomas. "Labor of Love." The Advocate 26 Mar. 2008. 22 Apr. 2008 .

o "Pregnant ‘Man’ Tells Oprah: ‘It’s a Miracle’." MSNBC. 3 Apr. 2008. 22 Apr. 2008 .

o Siddique, Haroon. "'Pregnant Man' Goes on Oprah Winfrey Show." Guardian. 4 Apr. 2008. 22 Apr. 2008 .

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