Justin Cascio reacts to Sweden joining the rest of the European Union in preserving reproductive rights for trans people.
Some people have all the luck. If they want to have a baby, all they have to do is have sex and wait. These people can have babies in whatever family configurations they desire or find themselves in. They can raise babies with their parents, grandparents, sisters, sisters-in-law, best friend, polyamorous household, or cult mates. They can run off and raise their babies alone in the woods.
Now that my girlfriend wants to have a baby, I think about reproduction during sex more. Not every time, but sometimes, part of what makes my orgasm exciting in that moment is the thought of ejaculating and that act having the power to create life inside of her.
Sadly, that fleeting thought is part sexual fantasy, part gender dysphoria. I was born with ovaries and a uterus, parts that turn off in the presence of testosterone. And given the current state of medical science, I will never be able to father a child.
According to Mother Jones, Sweden may soon repeal its law requiring trans people to be sterilized before completing documentation of their sex change. None of the other European Union countries have this requirement, and laws in other countries and states vary. The US state I was born in requires sterilization to change my birth certificate from female to male, but every state I’ve lived in since has had a different rule about driver’s licenses, and I travel on a US passport that lists my sex as male. I’ve had hormone therapy and chest surgery. I could do more, but I don’t feel that I need to, either for my comfort or for anyone else’s.
While becoming a transsexual has meant becoming infertile, this was a choice I made with my eyes wide open, and made easier by the fact that, five years before I started transition, I had a baby. It’s even been a relief to never worry about becoming accidentally pregnant.
Other trans people, especially when they come out young like I did, don’t have children, but want to, someday, and like many other people, want to have children that are biologically related to them. There are a few options for trans men and women to socially and even medically transition from one gender to the other, while preserving options for future procreation. Trans men have stopped taking testosterone, resumed their ovulatory cycles, and had successful, healthy pregnancies. Trans women can continue to impregnate fertile partners, even while on feminizing hormones. A trans woman can impregnate her FTM boyfriend, accidentally or on purpose. I have heard of such a case that resulted in abortion, a medical intervention which I can only imagine was difficult to decide upon and even more harrowing to procure.
I have babysat the first child born in my state who has no mother and no father. She has only a single male “parent” on her birth certificate, because she was born to my friend, who is a trans man. Although he is her natal mother, he is a single papa, not a mama. He had difficulty conceiving, and had to fight bureaucracies and medical providers who would not treat him for infertility or during his pregnancy, despite his excellent insurance which covered such services.
There are no reasonable arguments for requiring transsexuals to accept permanent states of sterility or infertility as a condition of their transition. That it causes confusion on paperwork or to officials or other busybodies, is of no importance. In most of western society, people are free to make their own decisions about when, how, and with whom to procreate, and where these rights do not exist, their suppression is seen as a human injustice.
Not every natural injustice can be overcome. So far, medical technology hasn’t endowed me with the necessary equipment to get my girlfriend pregnant. But there’s no excuse for allowing the state to add to the injustice, just because they find it awkward to record or enable life events that don’t fit the standard narratives. Sweden has made the right decision in backing down from limiting their citizens’ rights. Let’s hope that other states and medical gatekeepers throughout the world continue to move in the direction of equal rights for trans people.