Whenever someone talks about pregnancy or giving birth, they often default to words like "pregnant women" and pronouns like "she" and "her." But it's time we let go of the idea that only women have babies, because that's just not true.
Take Kaci Sullivan, for example. Sullivan is a transgender man who has now been pregnant and given birth twice, once when he was presenting as a woman and once when he was presenting as a man.
When Sullivan had his first child five years ago, he was also going through gender dysphoria and he Daily Mail that being pregnant while questioning his gender at the same time was a miserable experience.
"I prayed to connect with womanhood, to identify with what was happening to my body, but I couldn't," he said. "I felt so hopeless and lost. I wanted to die. I fell into such a dark place and I was terrified to bring a baby into that darkness with me."
When his son was three months old, Sullivan told his husband at the time that he's transgender. Eventually, the two divorced and Sullivan met his current partner, Steven, after his transition. He became pregnant again this year after stopping testosterone for health reasons and gave birth to his second child, named Phoenix, on November 11.
His second pregnancy, while presenting as a man, was much more like the beautiful experience we expect pregnant people to have, Sullivan told Daily Mail. It's not because being pregnant is easier if you're a man — that definitely comes with its own set of challenges, given that many medical professionals aren't trained in gender identity — but because he felt more at peace with his body.
If you're thinking that pregnancy is so strictly tied to womanhood, and therefore the stares and comments Sullivan must have gotten throughout his second pregnancy had to have made it more difficult than his first, then you're not alone. And Sullivan did get stares, but he simply ignored them because his pregnancy was about him and his family, not what anyone else thinks.
"They will try and find our safe space and violate it with their opinions, but they are jerks," Sullivan told Daily Mail. "I don't waste my time or energy by giving them anything in return."
Sullivan argues that pregnancy doesn't have to be feminine.
"Because I don't see pregnancy as inherently feminine, and because I don't subscribe to make-believe gender roles, I wasn't threatened by the idea of pregnancy," Sullivan said. "It didn't make me feel any less masculine."
He has been documenting his pregnancy on YouTube for other trans men who may want to become pregnant, but have very few resources about what pregnancy for transgender or non-binary people is actually like.
"There is a massive erasure of that culture and that community, so the confidence doesn’t exist for people to connect or be aware or educate themselves," Sullivan told Madison Magazine in July.
Thanks to him, and other transgender men who have been open about their pregnancies this year, trans people who become pregnant or are thinking about pregnancy in the future have an example to look to. And it's a beautiful example — just take a look at this happy dad and his brand-new baby.
Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about or passing on kids, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.
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