SUMMER REPLAY: A pregnant trans man describes what it's like
Getting pregnant as a trans man is an especially deliberate decision. Testosterone shots have to stop, surgeries must be delayed and full transition is paused. A Q&A with someone doing it.
William and Chastin are a couple who live in Ontario. They are raising three kids from Chastin's previous relationship, but two years ago, they decided to have another child together. William is carrying the baby.
They spoke to me about what that is like.
8 minute read
You are a trans man and you're pregnant right now. How far along are you?
William: Seven months.
Wow. So you started transitioning about five years ago. But you had to pause the transition to get pregnant. How does that even work?
William: I was on testosterone for three years, then I stopped two years ago, when we started to try. I basically just stopped taking my weekly shots — you don't have to wean yourself.
What changes did you notice when you stopped taking it?
William: Well, I'm a very moody person. So being a "woman" is very very moody for me.
Chastin: And your hair growth.
William: Yeah. It just stopped coming in as much, all over my body. On my face, I basically only get my chin now. I used to get the sides of my cheeks and the chin strap. And my moustache has thinned — it's basically gone now. My voice has lightened a little bit but not too much.
After I stopped my testosterone, it took me two months to get a full cycle. Some trans men take longer, like four or five months.
When you first cycled again, how did you feel about it? Was it weird?
William: I went through a few emotions. First, I was a little scared, because, like, it's reality now, I'm actually doing this. Secondly, I was, wow, I am a woman again, and this is just not what I want. But then I reminded myself that it's just short term. And that I can still continue on and be William.
Chastin: You did have a lot of ups and downs.
William: Yeah, I had a lot of ups and downs about it.
How long did you wait before doing the insemination?
William: I stopped my testosterone in September 2020. And we didn't start insemination until November.
William: December. So I had two healthy cycles, like full cycles. And then we started. Maybe we started too soon. But we were excited and I didn't want to lose, well —
Chastin: More time not being a man.
When you started, when you made the decision to try, did you have an idea of how long you were willing to try for?
William: I actually told Chastin that I was only willing to try for one year. I probably would have tried a little bit longer. But now that I think about it, I think the year and a half mark would have been it. Because I'm already 31, and we already have three kids. And not being William, not living my life as a man — it started to get to me.
Before you embarked on this yourself, did you talk to other people who'd done it? And were they helpful?
William: To be honest, I don't know another trans man that had a baby.
William: We watched a couple of YouTube videos. There was an Asian trans man and a Black trans man. That was pretty much it.
Interesting. Somehow I expected your doctor would put you in touch with someone...
William: She actually asked me before I started transitioning if I wanted to do this thing where I can collect my eggs if I wanted to have a baby. And she asked me three different times over a period of six months before she booked my hysterectomy.
William: Yeah, that was booked for October 2020, but then we made the decision to start trying for a baby in September. And I had already waited the two years of being on T to get my hysterectomy. That was another thing that was like, oh, man, now I've got to wait even longer for that.
So you basically had to tell your doctor you were changing course.
Chastin: I remember when I first asked him to carry the baby. We were in Walmart, and we passed the baby section. And I was like, "Wow, I'll never have this again." Because it's not safe for me to carry another child. And he said, "Oh, I guess I'm not having any kids with you then." A couple days went by and we were laying in bed, and I said, "Why don't you just carry the baby?" And he was like, "Absolutely not. I will not do that. I'm a man."
William: I waited 26 years to start my transition. I'm not going to just stop it, now that I got on track. Because my first couple years, I struggled a little bit. But it's okay, because I know that now I can start fresh.
So you decided to go ahead. Did you consider going to a clinic?
Chastin: That was what we did first. Because according to the Ontario website, you get free IUI [intrauterine insemination]. So we looked into that. They make you think it's free, but it's not. The procedure's free, but you've got to pay for medication, and you've got to pay $1,700 for sperm. So it kind of sucks for people trying to have a baby that way, because, I mean, if you're not rich, you're not having a baby.
William: And don't get us wrong, we're not poor. But I mean, we do have three other children. And a house to take care of and bills.
Chastin: We were talking to our friends, and they started looking around, and they called us and told us about a Facebook group for Canadian sperm donors. And that's where we started.
And ultimately, after some twists and turns, you found your donor there.
William: Yeah. He's a good guy. Kind of awkward, but he's very intelligent, respectful, decent-looking. I got pregnant on the third try.
How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant?
William: I was in denial a little bit.
Chastin: He was on the phone with his dad. We had just taken a pregnancy test and I saw the faintest of faint lines. And I started bawling. And I said, "Get off the phone right now. You're pregnant!" He said, "No, I'm not," and he continued talking to his dad.
William: The morning pee is usually what you use when you're pregnancy testing.
Chastin: Tomorrow came and the stick said yes. And then he cried.
William: But we had a miscarriage at eight weeks.
Chastin: He was super depressed. In bed. Didn't leave the house.
William: I even started having second thoughts. I thought for a second that I just didn't want to do it. It took me a little bit. It also took Chastin to help me, like thank goodness that she was here for me. But yeah, it was hard for me.
But then you got pregnant again.
William: Yes. Last September.
What has it been like for you — for your body, for your emotions, for your identity?
William: It has been hard. Not because I'm depressed about not transitioning right now or anything. It's just my moods.
It's only the last month that I really started to show. So it will be more of a mental challenge for me in the next couple months. It's going to be nicer weather, and I can't wear my winter jacket. And like it's not that I'm trying to hide it. But I'm going to be more exposed now because I am big. And I'm only getting bigger.
In my mind, I just want everybody else to be comfortable, and I don't want the confrontation.
Because like, I get it. I have a beard on my face and I have a baby in my belly. I get that it's weird for people. And some people don't understand why I'm doing this. I think it's gonna be more of a challenge.
Chastin: People have to keep an open mind.
William: I'm the type of person that loves when people ask questions. Even if you think that it's a rude question, or a stupid question, I would rather you ask me than go behind my back and talk about me.
Chastin: I am sitting here watching him rub his belly, but it's actually hard on him. When he first went into this, he was a size small. And like if you could see him now, he's a completely different-looking person. We went on Snapchat yesterday and saw pictures of him from two summers ago. Wow, he looks like a totally different man.
William: Like, oh my god, you were so good looking!
What do you wear? It just occurs to me that all the comfortable maternity clothes are going to be female, right?
William: Yeah, I just buy extra-large clothes. I basically live in track pants right now. I'll probably live in like basketball shorts during the summer. Obviously, I'll still be wearing a sports bra or whatever. To be honest with you, I kind of still struggle with wearing a real bra. It's just weird.
Yeah. So how does that feel, though? Is it a constant reminder that you've had to pause? Or is it okay?
William: It's all for a good cause. Honestly, I never pictured my life where it is now. Ever. But I wouldn't change it.
How soon after the birth can you go back on testosterone?
William: If I breastfeed, then I have to wait. I don't think that I'm going to breastfeed for longer than six months, because I do want to get back to normal life.
So do you have a sort of a plan for how to restart the transition?
William: After I decide I'm done breastfeeding, I will make an appointment with my doctor and we'll do the bloodwork to see what dosage I need to start back up. I can book the hysterectomy right away, but with COVID everything is a little bit behind. Then top surgery.
There have been moments where I've been a little bit down on myself. Like, what are you doing? You were getting there, you were so far, and now you just stopped.
But honestly, it didn't take me long to change my mindset, knowing that this is what I truly, truly want. And I truly wanted transition as well. But having a son of my own, it just makes it all worth it for me. He's just got to kick me and I'm like, this is what I want to be doing.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
This item was originally published in HeyReprotech on April 26, 2022. Their son, Carter, was born that June.
The "thinkability" of trans people having babies. HeyReprotech. 24 Aug 2021.
Alison Motluk. "They wanted a donor. They turned to Facebook." Chatelaine. 15 Sep 2022.