I guess this week’s sex-and-culture news has Oprah very excited: a fella is going to have a baby. I can’t keep up with Oprah, personally, so it falls to the Yahoo home page with the news bites on it to inform me of anything inevitable she does: bitch out a shady “memoirist,” cry when girls in Africa are being mistreated (her girls, which makes her cry harder, of course; so would I, in her shoes). Yes, I know I should read her magazine, and then I’d be on top of all things Oprah (oops, I didn’t actually mean it to sound like that; I can barely top anybody)… but if I can’t find the time to blog every single day, how can I add this admittedly valuable burden to my already-challenging relationship to the time/space continuum?
Anyway. Now this. Which I assume means — in a weird way I would not have predicted, and do not exactly approve of — that transgender issues have really gone mainstream: that they have practically jumped the shark, maybe. Well, no. But it’s worth a head-shake nevertheless.
This Oprah phenom is not the first pregnant guy. One of my acquaintances did this — went off testosterone, found a donor, had a kid — some years back; I think it might have occurred in the actual 20th century, though it was pretty 21st-century even then. It was that thing we shorthanded when we said “Millennial” — like, everything is about to change! We’ll finally get our Jetsons cars, our refrigerators that talk, our Maxwell Smart wrist phones. The limits of technology, the mind, and the flesh will melt away, and as they do, the social structure will shift into the next thing, newness will rule, and everything that had seemed oppressive will find its technological fix.
We maybe didn’t think that on the way to the first African-American or female president we’d tolerate a dalliance with fascism. But I guarantee you, at least one guy out there has had his fingers crossed for years that the brave new century would give us pregnant men, and I’m sure he thinks this Oprah-fied situation doesn’t go nearly far enough.
See, back in the ’80s, when I knew him, my ex-boyfriend (who now runs a fertility clinic, because some people are truly blessed with a calling and do not just fall into some line of work because the wind changed) wanted to be the first pregnant man. He was SO serious about this. He was probably into me mainly because I had a uterus, which is ironic, given that I had and have no intention of using it for its so-called god-given purpose — indeed, I’d rather have that Galen thing happen to my uterus that they used to call hysteria, where the womb runs around the body causing trouble, than to have it stay put and cause trouble by producing another person. I do not want kids, pretty much never did, and I am perfectly happy to enjoy yours (well, a few of them, anyhow) mostly from a distance, and pet my cats, and admire my friends who choose to foster kids who otherwise would have a rougher life. I don’t want babies, but Boyfriend sure did, and one of the ways I knew I had an unusual man on my hands (after a lesbian-identified decade of mostly sticking to women) was this desire he had to be pregnant and bear a child.
Not just have kids, see. He has kids now, as a member of a queer intentional family. But he really truly wanted to be pregnant, which amazed me, since that’s not one of those Woman Things I ever experienced. He talked about it very articulately. He had a health care background, so he even had a keen sense of where an implanted embryo might be able to latch on and develop. He was quite sure that this technology would be possible one day fairly soon and fretted only that when it did develop, he might be considered too old to be the guinea pig.
Boyfriend wasn’t trans in any of the ways we ordinarily define being trans (though I fully acknowledge that “we” in the aggregate aren’t the ones who ought primarily to be defining this — that should be the role of transfolk themselves). He was male-identified to the point of being kind of a men’s movement guy. But he deeply believed in, and desired, this profound breach of gender identity, without desiring to lose or basically change his own gender identity.
See, one of the gifts I’ve received from my transgender friends is the potential to explode gender (I realize, before y’all hit the “comment” button, that not all transpeople desire this or see it that way): most of all by the way some transgender people don’t buy into either/or male/female identities, at least not for themselves. But Boyfriend takes this social change into another realm when he desires the freedom and opportunity to do the one thing that, in our culture, absolutely defines a woman. And having known him, I wonder how alone he is in that desire: I am guessing not all that alone. It is the 21st century. It is the threshold of change. And maybe sharing that deeply gendered experience is what we as a people need to allow us to break on through to the other side of outmoded ideas about who men are and women are. Look, I’ll be the breadwinner, and honey, you have the kids.
I know, a bunch of tenured biology professors will say smart-sounding things about biology and sociobiology, and maybe they’ll be right, but that’s the great thing about the space/time continuum, even if it flummoxes me by its demands on a day-to-day basis: it has no end. So the story they mastered to graduate with honors back in the 20th century, and get their tenure-track jobs and their Mr. Science book gigs, isn’t fully written.
Professors, I got your biological imperative right here. I assume you would like it with lube.