Why am I compelled to write this story? It’s embarrassing. Not to me, but to popular culture.
Yahoo picked it up (and I love the fact the picture associated with the pregnant man wasn’t the pregnant man, but Oprah). It was an exclusive in People. And the “pregnant man”, one Thomas Beatie, was on Oprah yesterday.
I’m going to go into the story, but I want to post a content advisory here because I’m talking about reproduction. So you’ve been warned.
First, Beatie is not a man by birth. He’s a man by choice (known as a “transgender” individual). So, even though he’s got a beard and a “penis”, he’s still, biologically, a woman. Now, Thomas did the right things for getting pregnant. He stopped his testosterone shots (they’d play havoc with the ovaries and female reproductive organs), and he found a doctor willing to artificially inseminate Thomas’ womb.
But, let’s be frank. Or thomas, as the case may be. Thomas is a woman, biologically, who has conceived, although Thomas wants society to recognize him as a man.
Which brings in a fundamental contradiction and a whole new level of “post-modern ridiculousness” to the issue– Thomas only got pregnant because he’s still a woman. Got that? Good.
Something we’ve learned through life is that it’s a rare opportunity to have your cake and eat it, too. But that’s what Thomas (or Tracie, as Thomas’ father calls him/her) wants to do. Thomas wants to be a man, but Thomas did something wholly female, which was, get pregnant. It’s a logical contradiction, and it’s a biologically offensive. (Imagine talking to a room or renowned biologists and say, “Hey, all those mammals? Well, it’s not the female who gets pregnant! It’s the males, but only if they want!”) It effectively drops reason into the toilet and gives it one big flush, along with the centuries of collected biological data.
But here’s the kicker– it only happens if we all jiggle the handle. I’m not touching it. I’m reaching in and pulling reason right out of that low-flow marvel of modern plumbing. I’m perfectly content with calling Thomas a her and saying, “Hey there, lady, how’s the kid?” I’m not doing it to be cruel, but once she decided to do something reserved for the female classification, she embraced her femininity and maternal nature. Calling yourself a man and having a transgender/female relationship? It’s cool. I’m down with it. But don’t try to pull a fast one on science and society because you want to have kids. Own up to it– your biology allowed you to have the child, and that biology is that of the female, not the male.
And now to point two, something I noticed about 45 minutes into Oprah (yes, I watched it with my wife last night). As offended as I was at the willingness of Oprah, Thomas, Thomas’ wife and step-daughters, Ekhardt Tolle, and the whole Oprah audience to discard scientific fact for a feel-good story about an “oppressed minority”, I realized at the 45 minute mark that the whole blessed event was a scheme by these two to sell a book! Did you know Thomas is writing a book about her life? It’s true!
I was wondering why I was hearing this. Surely other transgender females-to-males have conceived. They probably discarded the illusion they were men when they conceived, but not stubborn ol’ Thomas. She wants to have her cake, eat it, then get on Oprah to hawk her upcoming book and get maximum press!
And that’s an insult to the transgender population. Thomas isn’t pushing for TG rights– she’s pushing for her and her partner to get mondo royalties from a book that’s landed on Oprah!
And yes, Ekhardt Tolle is to blame. His “A New Earth” wants us to discard labels, like “her” and “him”, which is great in the case of Thomas. But you know what? It’s BS. We need labels. Labels define who and what everything is. If we didn’t have labels in science, we wouldn’t be able to DO science.
Imagine walking into the doctor’s office. He runs some tests and declares, “You’re tests are back. They say 132.” So, what is it? My age? Weight? Blood pressure? Cholesterol? Pulse? Tell me, doc! I’m dying. “Oh, let’s discard the label,” he says, and walks out the door.
The number above is meaningless without units, a sciency way of saying labels.
What about the discoveries that certain groups of people have higher risk of sickle cell anemia? Or stroke? Or dementia? Should we discard that? “Oh, I’m not going to give you medication that will give you a 50 times better chance of living because I don’t believe in labeling you African American.” But the truth is, we do give him the medicine because we know he’s different. If we didn’t, we’d be jerks!
Labels are fine. They’re informative. They help us in our daily lives. I’m a man. You’re a woman. It helps me to know these things so I can avoid sexual harassment suits. But we’ll never get rid of labels, and we’ll never get rid of people who use labels as derogatory statements. It would be a wonderful place if we didn’t reduce ethnic populations to a horde of derisive and crude adjectives. But we can’t sacrifice the good labels from the bad, and we shouldn’t be discarding useful labels to promote some zombie form of tolerance.
Thomas, I like ya. You seem like a stand up person and I’m all for your self-identification as a male persona. But biologically, you’re female, and so long as you carry that child, you’re going to be female. Stop using yourself as a paragon of perceived persecution and instead say, “You know what? I like feeling like a man and a woman.” I know you’re promoting a book, so be honest in why you’re promoting your pregnancy– to make some money.