I have been following with great interest the story of Thomas, and Nancy Beatie. Two months ago Thomas announced to the world that he was pregnant, and reactions have been mixed to say the least. I find their story to be both compelling, and beautiful.
Thomas' pregnancy challenges our binary view of gender, and forces a reconceptualization of what North American society considers to be normal. There are those that are so invested in the stability of gender, and sex identity that their fear of change has led to obvious bigotry, and hatred. One such example can be read at the Daily Mail. As a trans ally, I feel it is necessary to deconstruct sections of this article to examine how gender binaries, ignorance, and hatred, inform the conclusions of the author.
"When he had surgery to become a man, he had his breasts removed and was given testosterone to make him look and sound like a man, but he chose to keep his female reproductive organs.
So Beatie is really a man/woman hybrid. Call him a freak, if you like."
Thomas identifies as a man, and therefore having the surgery only corrected the disconnect between body and mind. Calling him a freak is simply inappropriate. Just because his body does not conform with your understanding of male, does not mean he should be assigned the label of oddity. He is a person like any other, and deserves respect.
"And making lots of money to boot. Beatie's little foray with his grass trimmer this week was a rare outing, on account of not wishing to jeopardize his lucrative contract with a picture agency by being photographed by paparazzi (which conveniently happened when he was trimming the lawn - but served to stoke up public interest in his story).
The blinds are drawn across every window of the house to stop anyone getting any sneaky dirtier pictures.
Nancy and Thomas declined to be interviewed because, Nancy told me: 'We've got a book coming out in September and we want to have stuff left to say so people buy the book.'
The couple are also contracted to People magazine and with Oprah Winfrey, though Nancy insists they are not being paid by Winfrey. (She did not give details of the deal with People magazine.)"
They do have a child to support now. Any opportunity that they have to make an income, that does not compromise their morals, they have to take. Perhaps you would prefer that the child grew up on food stamps?
"Beatie's friends in Hawaii say he seemed perfectly happy being in a lesbian relationship with Nancy and never talked about being confused about his gender."
So to legitimize his feelings he had to publicly confess them right? Let's see how easy it is for you to declare your deepest darkest secret, to a world that is resistant to the very concept of what you are suggesting.
And then this pronouncement on The Oprah Winfrey Show: 'I have a very stable male gender identity. I see pregnancy as a process, and it doesn't define who I am.
'It's not a male or female desire to want to have a child. It's a human desire. I'm a person, and I have the right to have my own biological child.' Says who, precisely?
Says anyone that is not a trans bigot, and a gender conformist.
Beatie has said he did not feel as though he was born in the wrong body, which is how those who have a sex change often describe themselves.
Has it not occurred to you that the language has become so scripted precisely because the medical establishment acts as gate keepers to sex change operations? If you do not parrot the company line, you will not be receiving an operation. Think about the label that it is given ... body dysmorphic disorder, for crying out loud it is conceived of as a sickness. According to The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Clinical Psychiatry, 5th Edition, "The essential feature of body dysmorphic disorder is a preoccupation with some imagined defect in appearance or markedly excessive concern with a minor physical anomaly (Table 13–12). Such preoccupation persists even after reassurance. Common complaints include a diversity of imagined flaws of the face or head, such as various defects in the hair (too much or too little), skin, shape of the face, or facial features. However, any body part may be the focus, including genitals, breasts, buttocks, extremities, shoulders, and even overall body size. De Leon et al. (1989) stated that the nose, ears, face, and sexual organs are most often involved. It is not surprising, then, that patients with body dysmorphic disorder are found most commonly among persons seeking cosmetic surgery.A. Preoccupation with an imagined defect in appearance. If a slight physical anomaly is present, the person's concern is markedly excessive...." Would you want to "own" that negative stigmatization?
"One local I spoke to was unequivocal. 'Is it a he or is it a she, what is it? It's sickening. I was brought up with a different set of moral values and I just don't understand what is going on here.
'It is being done for entirely selfish reasons to make some sort of point without any regard to the child they are bringing into the world whatsoever.'
The moral values debate has no place in this scenario. A man is having a child with his wife, and I fail to see what it is problematic about this situation. The fact that the neighbor refuses to acknowledge Beaties sex identity is his failing.
I am not surprised to see people fall back on the harm/fear based discourse as it relates to children. That is exactly the same reason that people have used and continue to use, to justify prejudice in terms of bi racial children. If we teach children intolerance they will be intolerant. If we teach them to respect others they will learn to be respectful.
There are plenty more examples that I could have gleaned from this article, but I am sure that you get the point. Thomas and Nancy have decided to have a child and their task will only be made more difficult if the community around them uses fear as an excuse to "other" their family. Simply because a way of living, and or identifying is hegemonic does not mean that it is "normal". In the end all that matters is that this child will have two parents that love her, and if society will just stay out of her way, she will be capable of achieving many things.