The Pregnant Man

What do you like about being a girl/boy?

This question was asked in one of my classes. It seems like fairly simple and straightforward question, until you try to answer.

To determine what you like most about being a particular gender, you first have to know what it means to be that gender. How do you separate what it is to be a “boy” from a “girl” and not stereotype? Here are some of the answers my classmates gave:

Girls:

-you can show emotions and affection
-motherhood
-guys pay for things
-chivalry
-tom boy or girly girl (gender bending)

Boys:

-get ready quickly
-more opportunities
-leadership
-can grow a beard/mustache/side burns
-no line for the bathroom
-can pee standing up

Then the question was asked: What do you dislike about being a girl/boy?

Girls:

-shaving
-scared walking home
-pressure to always look good
-periods

Boys:

-pressure when dating
-limited clothing options
-pressure to have money
-pressure of being a breadwinner

So what makes a man or a woman? A lot of the above ideas are socially constructed views of men and women today, and a lot are stereotypes. Men can’t show emotion? You know you’re a woman when you don’t have to pay on a date?

There’s only a few on this list that is actually biological. You can point and definitively say “Yes, that is a thing that only [girls/boys] do.” Motherhood is one, periods are another, guys growing facial hair, and being able to pee standing up (must admit, jealous of that). I don’t really see any other ones. Sure, shaving because we all grow hair, but society has decided that smooth legs/face are beautiful. We don’t have to take a razor to our skin every few days, but we do to be “pretty”.

Except, what about this?

This is Thomas Beatie. He is pregnant. Thomas was born a woman and decided she wanted a sex change. So she became a he, got a mastectomy, started hormones, grew facial hair, fell in love and then married a woman. His wife found out that they were not able to have kids. Thomas, luckily for them, still had his “original plumbing”, so to speak. Thomas stopped his hormone injections, got a sperm donor, and became pregnant with their first child.

Is he a man?          

I thought motherhood was a definitive point-your-finger girl thing.

And I thought growing a beard was a guy thing.

Thomas has had three children, and by had I do mean borne. He actually has the title in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “First Married Man to Give Birth”. Since, he has had a phalloplasty (an artificial penis).

He’s not the only man to have given birth. There have been guys before and after him to bear children. In fact, just last year in 2011, a Canadian man named Richard Guzzo was the first trans man to give birth to natural twins.

So this whole guys giving birth thing isn’t a one-time deal—a strange anomaly in time. The question remains. Are these men men? What does it mean to be a man or a woman? How can we tell the difference?

What do you think?

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One thought on “The Pregnant Man

  1. Reblogged this on The Feminist Book Club and commented:
    Thought that this was really interesting, particularly the things that girls and boys ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ about being that gender.

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