Jun 082008
 

//www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/0806_exclusive_pregnant_man.shtml

4 Weeks To Go!

Photo from News of the World

We’re at four weeks ’til the due date and counting! For those of you who somehow haven’t heard, Thomas Beatie is the world’s first pregnant man that we know of. He and his legal wife, Nancy, have been all over the news and talk shows discussing their pregnancy and family. Thomas has raised the issue of gender to a new level in the public eye by queering our long cherished definitions of appropriate gender and biological roles for men and women while living out his dreams and creating a happy, healthy family. Good work, Thomas & Nancy! So, how does something like this happen? Read more after the jump.

Lets back it up a bit and go through the basic timeline for a situation such as this, with some vocab tossed in. First, we start with the assumption (everything we do in based on assumptions, you know) that sex and gender both exist and are both separate things. We’re used to seeing sex and genders that “match” in the traditional sense: boy parts on a boy and girl parts on a girl. Now, the parts and the gender label don’t have to go to together. Plus the parts don’t all have to “match” each other the way that we’re used to seeing. Confused yet? Stick with me, cuz I’m diving in.

Gender is a word for all of the social, cultural stuff that we associate with male and female. For instance, we’re used to seeing women in skirts and men in pants, right? But when we see a man in a kilt we get all silly and joke about a man in skirt, because that combo contradicts the GENDER norms (norms=rules/guidelines) we have for men. That’s why it is such a fashion/political/punk statement when those goth boys paint their nails and put on eye liner. Of course, this is creative behavior nothing new over recent-ish history of the past several decades and beyond. We’re just recognizing that GENDER is about a set of socially constructed, cultural rules we have created to express masculinity and femininity. Because gender is a social construction, we have a certain amount of freedom to resist those rules and go our own routes. Ladies can now wear slacks and men in kilts can be recognized as masculine.

Sex is about biology, whether you’re looking at hormones, anatomical body parts or chromosomes. Like many other physical attributes, sex characteristics have become increasingly flexible thanks to the marvels of modern medicine. We can add or remove breasts for health, cosmetic, or sex change reasons. We can also alter genitalia for the same reasons, as well as hormones. We can’t mess with chromosomes, although they aren’t always a solid indicator of sex anyway.

Both Gender and Sex are super complex concepts, each composed of many indicators. A man can wear nail polish and slacks. A woman can cut her hair short, refuse makeup and wear a 2 piece bathing suit. Similarly, a person can have their breasts removed, take masculinizing hormones, while still keeping their anatomically female reproductive system. This is what Thomas opted for. Thus, we have a person who lives and identifies as a male (so he is a man) yes is able to become pregnant. Ta-da!

How common is it for people to bravely venture toward physically displaying the identity they feel they ought to have, or do have, when gender and sex don’t match for them as easily as they do for others? We don’t know. Not everyone seeks professional medical assistance, and even if they do there are no solid numbers. This stuff is mighty expensive, and even medical professionals can be mean and inappropriate. People have transitioned to physically displaying their ‘new’ gender identity since the beginning of recorded history for many reasons, and there is some fascinating historical writing on the subject. At any rate, it is probably far more common than most of us would guess. And, really, who is and isn’t a “real” man or woman isn’t any of our business unless, like Thomas, they have chosen to raise awareness by going public. Hopefully, after all this, you can see that what makes a “real” man or woman is a moot and inappropirate point anywho.

Original article from News of the World with more touching photos – here

Thomas bravely writes for The Advocate – here

Times Online article – here

Thomas talks to Oprah, posted on YouTube – here

CNN.com does an intro 101-style video, posted on video – here

I could go on and on about this topic, but I’ll save it for later posts, workshops and lectures.

As always, drop me a line by clicking “communicate” above or posting a comment below.

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