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Thomas Beatie is only four weeks away from giving birth to a daughter eagerly awaited by him and his wife Nancy. Mr. Beatie is legally male and legally married to his wife Nancy, who underwent a hysterectomy at a young age. But, as one might suppose from his ability to carry a child, Mr. Beatie has a uterus. That’s because Mr. Beatie is transgendered, having been born as a woman with a uterus but abandoning all other aspects of what society considers “female.” Scholars specializing in the field of Gender Studies have long emphasized a dichotomy between sex and gender. Students of Gender Studies learn that a person’s sex is best defined as the state of his or her reproductive organs, while a person’s gender is a much larger and more complex soup, involving mental states and self and societal perceptions. Mr. Beatie’s story seems to make their point.
In his journey to sex reassignment, Mr. Beatie had his breasts reconstructed and began testosterone therapy. Sex reassignment surgery didn’t include his sterilization because, as he wrote, “Wanting to have a biological child is neither a male nor female desire, but a human desire.”
But, one wonders, what on earth does it mean to be legally male if having a uterus and giving birth aren’t disqualifications? In recent years, courts have looked at several cases involving transgendered spouses who wanted to retain custody of their children after a divorce. In another instance, a court addressed the issue of whether a transgendered person could obtain wrongful death benefits after the death of a spouse. Courts are split on the issue as to whether “gender” trumps “sex” or vice versa in determining the legal status of individuals. In any case, with a growing national population of transgendered individuals and the popularity of shows like Trans Generation, it just might happen that Mr. Beatie won’t be the last pregnant man in the news.
- Blair Lazarus
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