From The Advocate, Trans Men Need the Competent Fertility Care I Never Got.
This is the story of a trans man being misgendered while getting her eggs retrieved so they can be implanted into her wife for gestation. (And I note that this trans man is biologically female and has a female partner, which, by the way, makes her a lesbian.)
“For as long as I can remember, I have wanted children. For most of my life, I thought that I would carry my child, but those feelings changed shortly after I came out as a trans man and started taking testosterone. Producing a genetically related child was still important to me, but I was no longer able to see myself carrying a pregnancy. After discussing all of our options, my wife, Caroline, and I decided that the closest we would ever get to creating another human together would be to fertilize my eggs with donor sperm and to then implant the embryo into Caroline for her to carry the baby.
Unfortunately, fertility preservation, or what is more commonly referred to as “egg freezing,” was not presented to me as an option prior to starting testosterone. This meant that I would have to wean off of my masculinizing hormones so that my ovaries would be able to ovulate again. And that was just the beginning of a longer journey. Once ovulation began, I’d then undergo an in vitro fertilization hormone-injection process as well as a series of ultrasounds prior to the egg retrieval procedure.”
I’m already quite fascinated by this person after the first paragraph. She saw herself carrying a child for most of her life, but not after she came out as a trans man. This tells me that she was in fact living as a woman for most of her life, and was not feeling uncomfortable about using her female biology to create a child. This makes me wonder about the nature of sex dysphoria, if a trans man can spend most of her life feeling comfortable with the idea of carrying a child. Doesn’t that mean that she does NOT hate her female biology? This stuff just doesn’t make sense to me.
The first time she recalls being mistreated at the clinic, this is what happened:
“I arrived at the fertility clinic for my first ultrasound three months after I went off testosterone. I was told to put on a hospital gown and sit in a waiting room with a group of women. They all looked genuinely excited. I truly wanted to be able to share their enthusiasm; after all, we were all there for the same reason — to start a family. But instead, I was made to feel like I did not belong.
When the nurse on duty came out of the ultrasound room to call the next patient in, she glanced over at me and stopped. I’ll never forget the look of shock on her face. As she walked away, she turned her head to look back at me, not once, not twice, but three times, almost as though to make sure that what she was seeing was actually real. This, of course, caught the attention of the other patients, who now started staring at me as well. I tried to distract myself by locking my eyes on the ironic “trans inclusivity” poster on the wall in front of me, realizing with a sinking heart that the trans-competent care I had been led to expect was not going to materialize at all.”
I have to agree that this is a really rude way to treat someone. In this day and age, people need to realize that there are trans people in the world and you can’t just stare at them like they’re aliens from outer space. They’re people and should be treated as such. However, I can also understand that when you’re a nurse about to perform an ultrasound on someone’s ovaries, it can be confusing to be looking at what appears to be a man as your next patient. That’s because people who have ovaries are female.
The next time she was mistreated:
“Caroline and I felt shocked every time we had an appointment. During one, the physician couldn’t even bear to look at me, so she stared at the wall. Much of it was unspoken like that — a feeling conveyed through tone and body language that there was something wrong with me. Every time I walked into a room, the mood completely changed. The staff’s discomfort with me was so obvious that it made every conversation and interaction painfully awkward. It was like they had no idea how to simply treat me like a human being.”
This sounds absolutely awful. There’s no reason why an FtM is so scary that you cannot even look at her. Maybe I’m actually a little bit trans positive—I certainly would not treat a trans person like this. I’m a lesbian who is quite political and so I have met lots of other people from the alphabet soup over the years, including several trans people. For me it’s not surprising to see a woman with a beard, whether it’s naturally occurring or whether she has taken testosterone (I’ve met women with both.) The only trans people I would avoid are men like Stefonknee, but this is not a case of an abuser practicing his sexual fetish on unsuspecting people, this is a case of a lesbian starting a family with her wife.
“During my final ultrasound appointment, the nurse assigned to me was the same one who had already referred to me as “she” and had supposedly been spoken to by management — which was hard to believe. When I entered the exam room, she once again referred to me as “she.” Luckily, the medical director was there to immediately correct her. At the end of the ultrasound I asked if I could speak to the medical director in private, because I wanted to ensure that the nurse would not be present during my egg retrieval procedure.
“This is the third time that I have heard this nurse refer to me as ‘she,’ and it’s really hurtful and unacceptable,” I explained to the medical director.
“Yes, it’s unfortunate, especially given that she has already received training. Actually, all of our staff have received training,” she responded. “It just doesn’t stick for some people.”
I was so upset that I cannot remember what I said after that.”
This is where I begin to agree more with the nurse. I think you have to realize when a nurse is retrieving your ova that she is going to think of you as female. Nurses deal with people’s biology, and the members of our species who produce ova and bear young are called female—that’s what that word actually means. It should not be insulting for medical staff to correctly identify your biology while treating you. In fact, it should be imperative that medical staff correctly identify your biology while treating you! I’m not honestly sure what is even so insulting about someone calling you “she” while treating your female biology.
I’m interested in that comment made in this quote that says that the staff receives training but it doesn’t always stick. Of course it doesn’t always stick—because we all understand human sexual dimorphism and we understand what the words male and female mean. It’s never going to completely stick, because plenty of us don’t want to join a cult where there’s no such thing as biology and anatomy—we prefer to live in reality.
I can’t help wondering, if this person had allowed herself to be called female without freaking out over it, would the staff have been more comfortable around her? I cannot know for sure. I know how I feel about it. I feel that people who are gender nonconforming and who take artificial hormones should be treated with the same respect as everyone else, but if they insist on denying the facts of their biology then it’s not going to be easy to be around them. Not because of their physical appearance, but because it’s uncomfortable to be forced to uphold a lie.
I wish that this woman could have embraced being a lesbian instead of transitioning to appear as a man, but I still wish her and her family well.