A transgender couple who became parents together have shared their story with the British press, detailing how a third transgender person donated her sperm to the duo, allowing them to start a family.
“It’s taken six years to get this far, but now we have a baby in our arms and that was the end goal. I finally feel complete,” Reuben Sharpe, a Brighton, England, wedding photographer, told the Mirror. “It wasn’t that I was desperate to have the birthing experience or pregnancy experience, but I wanted a child and I had the facility to do it.”
Sharpe, 39, began his transition to manhood 12 years ago, and, while he kept his uterus and ovaries intact, began taking testosterone in order to grow facial hair, have a deeper voice and cultivate other masculine features. He stopped taking the testosterone six years ago and began fertility treatment, however, in the hopes that he would once again begin ovulating and be able to carry a child.
Meanwhile, Sharpe met his partner, Jay, and they discussed parenting a child together. Jay, 28, who is “non-binary/trans” and uses the singular pronoun “they,” was on board.
“If they didn’t want kids, we’d have to break up,” Sharpe told the Mirror, referring to Jay. “I managed to bring up the subject, but luckily Jay was open to the idea.”
Added Jay, “It just seemed right — we wanted to raise kids similarly.”
The problem, according to a GoFundMe page that the couple set up in April of 2018, was that, “We are both trans / non-binary trans and don't have a drop of sperm between us!”
However, the page explained, they had found a sperm donor — a transgender woman in Brighton — and only needed some financial aid for expenses that would including sperm banking, sperm testing and intrauterine insemination (IUI), which would increase the Sharpe’s chance of conception, especially after the years of taking testosterone.
“I have always wanted to become a parent, and initially believed that I would do this through adoption. However, I realized that due to my circumstances and the difficult nature of the adoption process this option is sadly not available to me,” Sharpe, who was not reachable through GoFundMe, explained on the fundraising page. “As a queer couple, we have come across many barriers to the fertility treatment that we require to conceive our baby! Most frustratingly, the type of help that we are looking for would be available for us for free if either of us were assigned male at birth and had viable sperm!”
Three rounds of fertility treatment, according to the Mirror, came at a cost of over $7,800; the pregnancy took on the second try. What followed, the story explained, were months of strange looks and up-and-down emotions, especially at medical appointments.
“It felt uncomfortable and made us sad because it was happening at such important times when we were going to see our baby. Both of us just wanted a normal experience,” Jay explained, with Sharpe adding, “I found it frustrating that people didn’t just ask my gender or not use it. I look like a man, have a beard.”
Sharpe continued: “It’s bizarre you wouldn’t just avoid saying ‘she.’ People asked very invasive questions about body parts and how I’d give birth. Giving birth isn’t a trans thing. Women give birth in different ways, too.”
The strange looks and confused comments have continued on social media now that the couple has shared their story, with people noting, “This must be a parody,” and asking, “What is a ‘female sperm donor’?”
American conservative commentator Candace Owens weighed in, tweeting the story and noting, “Woman gives birth to partner’s baby with male sperm donor. There. I fixed it for you.”
Woman gives birth to partner’s baby with male sperm donor.— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) December 29, 2019
There. I fixed it for you. https://t.co/JpzEF7VX5H
That prompted Jameela Jamil to respond further, noting, “OR... Nice to see a young couple in love, have a happy little baby. Their gender is none of my business, worrying about it and mocking them is a pointless waste of time, (it’s just bullying) and they are hurting nobody. I wish them well. There I fixed it for you.”
OR... Nice to see a young couple in love, have a happy little baby. Their gender is none of my business, worrying about it and mocking them is a pointless waste of time, (it’s just bullying) and they are hurting nobody. I wish them well.— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) December 29, 2019
There I fixed it for you. https://t.co/WoZNyLh6ll
The back-and-forth continued about who, exactly, is able to have a baby. But Sharpe is far from the first transgender man to get pregnant and give birth. The first to gain notoriety in the media was Thomas Trace Beattie, who made it into the Guinness World Records in 2010. A handful of pregnant transgender men followed — including Wyley Simpson; Freddy McConnell, the subject of a documentary called Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth; and, most recently, Seth Marlowe, of Virginia, who used IVF (in vitro fertilization) to conceive his son.
In 2016, writer Jessi Hempel detailed her transgender brother’s pregnancy in a story for Time.
“Pregnancies like Evan’s — and the many that are likely to follow — will stretch our cultural perceptions of gender norms even further,” Hempel wrote. “Americans are just starting to open up to the idea that you may be born into a female body, but believe that you are really a man. But what if you are born into a female body, know you are a man and still want to participate in the traditionally exclusive rite of womanhood? What kind of man are you then?”
And, back in 2014, Nick and Bianca Bowser went public with their unique story of being a transgender couple who conceived two children naturally. “We have the parts so we will use them,” Bianca had told the Mirror at the time. “If we could change them we would, and they would be the other way around,” she said, referring to sex-reassignment surgeries that they both hope to undergo someday, “but we cannot afford it and the children come first.”
As for Sharpe, he gave birth to baby Jamie three months ago, and says that he and Jay experienced much kindness and support from family, neighbors and hospital staff. The couple plans to marry, and Jay might consider having a baby in the future, according to the Mirror.
Said Sharpe, “Like with many things, people have got it into their heads, ‘This is a female thing, this is a male thing.’ Having a child is male, female, everyone. Even when people go through that pregnancy experience with their partner, it’s a joint thing.”
He added, “Wanting to have a baby doesn’t feel like a female thing for me. I don’t think pregnancy is the ultimate female experience, therefore it didn’t challenge me as a man. It doesn’t make a woman less of a woman if she’s not keen on pregnancy, infertile, doesn’t want a baby. This isn’t a trans issue — it affects everyone.”
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