He caused such a stir, "The Pregnant Man". Chronicled by The Advocate, a ratings-busting appearance on Oprah. News now that Thomas Beatie has delivered a healthy child. Yay! And whew! Deliveries are usually a "whew", I know that was the case for both my daughters - even though one got instantly whisked away for treatment of a pneumothorax caused by a hole in one lung. Congratulations! And...well since you just gotta know...the baby is a Girl. That's always our first questions isn't it? Boy or Girl? Why should it matter? But it does.
Thomas' pregnancy caused a lot of discomfort in the transgender community and news of the Beatie Bouncing Baby continues to be noted with some disturbing commentary from transgender leaders, in particular Mara Keisling, the male-to-female head of the National Center for Transgender Equality and Jamison Green, the female-to-male author and advocate.
Both are quoted in this article from Salon.Com that suggests they’d both prefer that Thomas and his family simply disappear. Ms. Keisling is quoted:
"The media hasn't gotten a message yet that they ought to get a life," she snaps. [and]
"The only positive thing that's come out of this is that the Beaties get to have a baby,"
And in the same paragraph, Judith Halberstam, who is a gender theorist at the
"I don't see this as a cause for celebration among transgendered people," Halberstam concurs. In fact, she's worried that Beatie's publicity may have endangered people's abilities to access hormones or sexual reassignment surgery. His story may allow doctors to point to him as an example of why such surgery isn't even necessary or advisable. "I don't see how this helps anybody except to publicize that [people like Beatie] exist," says Halberstam.
Jamison Green seems a bit more supportive, but not really:
Green, however, is slightly more enthusiastic, and believes the story will lead to some positive changes. For the time being, though, he thinks Beatie should stop focusing on the media and starting thinking about himself. "The best thing that Thomas Beatie can do for the trans community is live his life as honestly as he can, and worry about what his immediate neighbors think of him, and how successful he is in his local community." Green adds, "If people go back to accepting him as a man, that would be a big plus."
Well, there ya go folks - the truth about the trans "community" bared for all to see - even though you probably don't see it. So here goes Donna on an expository rant.
The hidden reality of the trans "community" is that we aren't as supportive of each other as many have you believe. There is a division between the transwomen and the transmen (notice it was MtF Keisling who held the more shrill commentary) and there is a division between those who have had surgery and those who have not and there is a division between those who are "passable" and those who are not and there is a division between those who are college educated and/or authors and those whose lives are much more common or spent continuing to live on the margins.
First, regarding Penn State/Harvard educated Ms. Keisling. In my opinion she completely misses the point - and has with some other issues regarding our individuality - the Beatie pregnancy isn't about our "community", its about Thomas and his wife living their lives as authentically unto themselves as THEY choose - PERIOD. This was one of the great mistakes, IMO, about the Feminist Movement of the 60's and 70's. Unless you cast off your bra, scraped the makeup off, wore jeans and held antagonistic chats with men, you weren't an "authentic" Feminist. For me, Feminism - and now Transgender existences - is about letting us MAKE OUR OWN DECISIONS, not blindly bending to the constraints of society.
If a woman CHOOSES to be June Cleaver that's fine by me. Of course, there were those who didn't understand WHY someone would "chose" that perfectly acceptable role in life, so they declared it wasn’t really a “choice”. In this situation, Thomas CHOSE to keep his reproductive abilities while it appears that both Keisling and Green would have preferred he bend to their constraints and definitions about what represents an "authentic" transman. If transgenders are challenging society's definition of male/female gender roles by simply accepting another definition (one imposed by the trans "community"), then we have gained absolutely nothing.
Our lives are, and should be, OURS to live according to our own sense of self and comfort. I live my life as I need, not as defined by or in the pursuit of the acceptance of Ms. Keisling, Mr. Green or anyone else for that matter.
As for Mr. Green's comment about "the best thing
Thomas owes nothing to the trans community - he owes everything to the people in his life, regardless of how he lives that life. There is this pervasive sense that transgenders "owe" something to the entire community as if it is a debt that must be somehow repaid. I certainly have great appreciation for those that made my path easier and Ms. Keisling and Mr. Green are among those that are, and will continue to be, among in that group, but I am not required to repay that "debt". That I choose to do so in my own, small way, is MY choice not a remittance of a bill like the one I receive each month from the local utility company.
Mr. Green concludes with ""If people go back to accepting him as a man, that would be a big plus.". It sure looks to me that Mr. Green is trying to stuff Thomas back into the closet - just a different one. Why must people "accept" Thomas as a "man"? Why can they, WE, simply accept him as "Thomas"? If we who transcend the concepts and barriers of gender in our daily lives are then inhibited by different concepts and barriers of gender, then we will not make any progress in our lives or in society.
Halberstam, an academic, seems to regard Thomas as something of an anomaly to be discarded or disregarded, except for the baseless declaration that his life will somehow destroy health care options for all transgenders everywhere. Pish posh. Worry more about the Zucker/Blanchard cabal and the upcoming revision of the DSM.
I think my own daughter said it best with an amazingly loving note she sent me last November following her attendance at her very first Transgender Day of Remembrance. She wrote: "You have a strength inside you that most can't even touch. You have faced your friends, your family, and your community and said, "This is who I am." You put yourself out there to be mocked, loved, ridiculed, but above all, you've put yourself out there. You stepped out of the shadows and have stood basking in the sun as your self--not the self so many others would have you be."
Wow..."not the self so many others would have you be". For Thomas I offer my genuine congratulations and I wish you and your family all the best. Live as YOU choose not as others would have you be, even if those "others" are also transgender people.