“I just feel like it’s really cool that my body can do this.”
In a newly published story by TIME magazine, writer Jessi Hempel shares the story of her transgender brother Evan and his incredible journey to having a kid of his own.
Evan Hempel, 35, is a transgender man who first came out to his family and friends at age 19.
“My brother Evan was born female. He came out as transgender 16 years ago but never stopped wanting to have a baby. This spring he gave birth to his first child.”
I skim through the article and my eyes land on the paragraph where Evan recounts giving birth, giving a blow-by- blow description of the entire process. He describes how he and his partner had arrived at the hospital and the spectacle that people saw was a woman and a man walking toward the maternity ward. The woman was weighed down with suitcases, a backpack and the paperwork folder. The man carried nothing but a purple yoga birthing ball, and every few steps, he’d push it up against the wall, lean over it and moan. The only thought that enters my head at this point is, what a wonderful time to be alive.
At this point, Evan’s pregnancy seems miraculous and something unheard of. I’d have no reason to pen down this article about his life were it not for his gender. There is very little research about trans pregnancies. One of the only medical papers addressing the topic was written in 2015 by the University of California, San Francisco’s Dr. Juno Obedin-Maliver and Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Harvey Makadon. They noted that, in form and function,
“getting pregnant as a trans man is not that different than getting pregnant as a woman.”
Most of the time, trans men stop taking testosterone, and their bodies begin ovulating again. If their partner is biologically male, trans men may try to conceive without medical intervention.
Apart from the physical process being fairly straightforward, transgender birth parents often face more challenges when it comes to mental health. Psychological issues like loneliness, revoked gender identity issues. While having a family is something that many transgender individuals want, pregnancy can lead men to acknowledge that they still have female reproductive organs, which for many can be difficult, however rewarding the pregnancy may ultimately be.
Another interesting aspect of the article was the support Evan received from his company and his superiors. A particular incident when he nervously revealed to the head of HR of his company, a short woman with a warm demeanor that he was pregnant, it wasn’t as though that he was afraid of getting a negative reaction, he just wasn’t sure what to expect. What happened next is something that should become a norm across corporates, after a second’s pause, her face broke into a smile,
“Well, this is unexpected, but that’s great!” she said.
And she shared some anecdotes about her daughters and in that instant Evan felt a part of the club he’d always looked into from the outside.
I cannot put enough emphasis on how miraculous this thing called ACCEPTANCE is. Humans, being the social beings they are, need approval in order to maintain peace within themselves. Evan was born female but always identified as male and that’s perfectly okay. The notion of challenging binary gender norms is something he’s been doing since he came out 16 years ago.
People like us think being trans means being ‘trapped in a body” and thats far from the truth. But as Evan beautifully puts it, “I was always Evan. I always had these parts. I always just felt like me, and like I was a guy.”
The male sea horse gives birth after carrying eggs in a protective pouch on his belly. A sea horse’s masculinity is not threatened by gestation; it is reinforced by it. Evan followed the sea horse’s trajectory and chose parenthood in his own desired way. Evan dared. Evan soared. His story teaches us: In a sea full of fishes, be a sea horse.
Written by Aashna Bhatia