Freezing My Assets: On Transitioning and Wanting To Be A Mom One Day Too

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In the early days of my transition, it happened sometimes that I would get frustrated with someone messing up my pronouns, but once in awhile, there would be someone who got it right that made up for any number of people getting it wrong. One such person was the secretary at the desk at the andrology clinic who explained to an orderly: “She’s here to deposit her sperm.”

To be clear, I have no desire whatsoever for children at the moment. I’m not maternal; I don’t understand how one can get so excited when a baby figures out how to use a spoon. I can do that, and I can do it without making a mess of myself – most of the time. Nevertheless, being trans means you have to plan ahead. It is possible, somewhere down the line, that I’ll stop seeing babies as small, unemployed, inarticulate noise machines, and when that day comes, I’m kind of tickled by the idea of being one of the very small number of lesbian women whose child can answer the question of which mom is their biological mom with “both of them!”

With that in mind, I made my appointment, drove out to the university’s medical complex, and checked in at the andrology lab. I sat across the waiting area some distance away from the desk filling out the forms. An orderly went behind the desk, and perhaps he wasn’t paying much attention to me, because he became very confused when the secretary said, “Can you take Miss Catherwood to Room 1?”

Bear in mind that these little rooms have nothing in them but a sink, a bunch of porno magazines, a TV with a bunch of porno tapes, and a chair which no woman in her right mind would sit in. There is only one thing that these rooms are used for. So after being asked to take “Miss Catherwood” to one of these rooms, the orderly glanced at me briefly, then asked the secretary, quietly but audibly enough in the nearly silent waiting room, “why?”

The secretary told him, quite simply, “She’s making a deposit.” Increasingly bewildered, he asked, “A deposit of what?” and the girl said in a tone as though this should be completely obvious, “Of her sperm.” Like, duh. This was about the time I got up and brought the forms back to the desk.

I appreciated the secretary’s attitude, and moreover, it managed to momentarily distract me from the fact that I was actually very nervous about this. Not about ejaculating in public, I have a history that adequately prepared me for that sort of thing, but because I was worried that I had waited too long to do this. I had already been on hormones for some time. One thing the doctors warn you of is that, not-unexpectedly, going on a high dose of estrogen as well as a testosterone blocker does not do wonders for your fertility.

I found myself getting the wrong kind of worked up on the way to the room, thinking, “I’ve totally screwed this up, my sperm are probably all floating at the top of the ball, belly up, or swimming in circles in estrogen clouded waters like goldfish dropped into a murky swamp, wondering what the hell’s going on around here.” Then it hit me that by getting myself so worked up, I might make it worse by scaring them; do sperm get test anxiety? I had to calm down. I chatted with the orderly to distract myself.

He told me I had thirty minutes to produce the sample, and I responded, “Thirty minutes? That doesn’t leave a lot of time for foreplay. No time whatsoever for cuddling afterward.” He didn’t seem to appreciate the joke. Not willing to give up so easily, I asked, “Well if I’m going to be cutting corners anyway, what is the fastest anyone has ever been in and out of here?” and he responded, “I don’t know. A couple minutes.” I nodded: “Two minutes. Challenge accepted.”

Not so much as a grin.

Inside, I lifted my skirt and got to work. I didn’t manage to beat two minutes, by which I mean I beat for more than two minutes, after which I had a little form to fill out that asked some basic questions such as how long it had been since my last ejaculation and that sort of thing. It asked if any semen was lost (dribbled out) during collection. On the blank I wrote, “Nope!” and signed “Annie Oakley.”

Like a girl bringing home her first A+, I proudly marched my little cup to the lab where I was to give it to the doctor who would analyze it. Along the way, I explored a little, very curious to see what the freezer section of this combination doctors office and pornography supercenter looked like. I didn’t find it. Arriving at the doctor’s office, I gave him my sample, and he told me to wait while he pulled up my file to make sure he had my information. While he was doing so, it occurred to me, “He’s a sperm doctor; this guy has got to have a good sense of humor.” Hoping he would make up for the humorless orderly, I asked him, “So… what makes a guy go into the sperm trade?”

His response was disappointing. He just said, “Oh, I don’t know, the job was open at the right time, I was qualified to….” blah blah blah. I don’t know why, but I really thought the sperm guy would have something more witty to say. I expected, “I heard that it was an UP AND COMING business!” or something to that effect. I suppose I can’t complain about a medical appointment that includes an orgasm, though for what I paid I think they should have sent in a sexy nurse to collect the sample for me.

The doctor called that afternoon with my analysis while I was in the supermarket, the freezer section to be precise. Already, I’d been expecting tragic news about the state of things down under, and I thought a tub of ice cream might make me feel better (don’t think about that one too hard). I checked the caller before answering and thought to myself, “Damn, that was really fast. Didn’t take long to count ‘em, not a good sign…”

I stood gazing at the container of frozen ice cream I had just pulled out as I listened to him begin to explain how the whole thing worked. I knew what he would say. I knew I shouldn’t have waited so long after going on estrogen and spironolactone, and the tub of Karamel Sutra melting in my hand wasn’t going to bring me much comfort. He was about to break the news that I would never have a child of my own, and nothing else had ever made it so clear that I wanted one.

I really, really wanted one.

He laid it all out for me.

The average man’s sperm count is TWENTY MILLION.
The average woman’s sperm count is ZERO, and I had TWENTY-EIGHT MILLION more sperm than the average woman.

He also told me that average sperm motility is 60%, while mine was about 70%. That means rather than swimming in circles or floating aimlessly, my sperm apparently shoot around like armor piercing missiles. Naturally, to all of this I responded, “Yes!” and did a happy little dance in the freezer section of Jewel-Osco which attracted no small degree of attention.

When I was finished celebrating, I thanked the doctor and hung up. I placed the ice cream gently back in the freezer and shut the door.

I was in a fine mood for the remainder of the day, but those few hours spent wondering, and those few moments spent convinced that I had thoughtlessly traded away my ability to have a child, stuck with me. I would not have traded it for nothing, of course; I would have traded it for a body I am finally comfortable in and a life worth living. And yet, some part of me thought, “Yeah… but still…”

It dawned upon me that this question of the ability to have children is not a frequent one in our discourse. Perhaps because, as part of the LGBT community (not to open a can of worms), we are among a group of people who already face a certain reproductive challenge that most heterosexual couples do not. Or perhaps it is because, unlike lesbians and gays, previous generations of transpeople have not necessarily shared this problem.

Thanks largely to a more accepting social climate, over the last thirty years, the average age of transition for a transperson has plummeted. Now we see teenagers and young children transitioning, and like anyone else, I’m filled with joy for them, and perhaps a touch of envy. Riki Wilchins recently wrote a somewhat controversial op-ed discussing the fact that due to the gradually lowering age of transition and the slowly shifting culture, the experiences of the new generation of trans people would bear little resemblance to the experiences of the generations that have come before.

And in most respects, I think we can agree, good for them! No decades of crushing inner turmoil trying to live a lie. No having to explain to a spouse of twenty years that you’re not who they think you are. And in the cases of transitioning in childhood, maybe even no struggling with the physical aftermath of the wrong kind of puberty. Good for those kids. Jerks.

But among those experiences this new generation of early transitioners will not share will be that of fathering or mothering a biological child, and while we may argue about the degree of significance, it is a thing that is lost in transition. I know many older transsexuals who were married and had children prior to their transition; I also know many younger transsexuals who, having transitioned early, will not have those experiences — in most respects, a very positive development. And yet, some part of me thinks, “Yeah… but still…”
To be entirely clear, here is a brief list of things I am NOT suggesting:

+ That the benefits of transitioning do not outweigh the losses. This is not an argument against transitioning at any age.

+ That everyone must want a biological child, or even want children at all. Certainly, many people do not.

+ That one could not love an adopted child or a child born with the assistance of a third party every bit as powerfully as a child that is their biological offspring. Of course they can.

All I am suggesting is an addendum to something already commonly understood. The decision to transition is a major one, one with many consequences, most of them positive, and it is a decision which must be informed. All I suggest is that considering the matter of fertility should be part of that informed decision. Because it is an important one, and it is one we might not think about until it is too late.


 

Author’s Bio: Rhiannon Catherwood is a lesbian trans woman living near Chicago with her partner Kate. She teaches English and Women’s Studies at Northern Illinois University and rarely shuts up about feminism and politics. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and writing fiction, cooking, motorcycling, exploring abandoned buildings, and speaking out to advance the rights of women and all flavors of LGBT people.

Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.

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64 Comments

  1. Thumb up 4

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    This was really interesting. I’m cis and have thought about my own child-having timeline quite a bit but never considered the implications for a trans* person before. Thank you for opening my eyes.

  2. Thumb up 9

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    Thank you for writing this and sharing this with all of us :) I’ve never really considered just how different the experiences are for people who transition earlier versus those who transition later.

    I really enjoyed all the sperm bank jokes – didn’t see those coming ;)

  3. Thumb up 7

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    If I was more generous, I should be glad that you could do that. But I have very bitter feelings about the subject. My gatekeeper at the time didn’t think doing this was a good idea and he insisted that my attempts to preserve my sperm were telling of the fact that I wasn’t REALLY a woman and I didn’t REALLY want to get rid of my male life and it was like freezing my little male me and all that kind of crap. Then, after two years of suffering him and being suicidal and all that sh*t, I started hormones on my own and never looked back. But nowadays after 3 years of HRT (well, actually two of spiro and one of spiro+estrogen) I feel very sad that I couldn’t preserve my reproductive options. For the last two years I don’t even produce anything (as in, well, sperm), so there’s no chance I could be lucky… there would be no material to freeze at all. And no way I’m giving up my hormones for a lengthy period to bring that opportunity back. But it still makes me very sad and it hurts a lot. I totally agree with you that we should all give more importance to these issues, which are generally disregarded by the doctors and ‘the system’ as a whole.

    PS: Now that I come to think of it: In the distant future, do you think you’d be willing to donate some of those 28 million swimmers to a nice lesbian couple in Argentina? ;)

    • Thumb up 2

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      I’m really sorry to hear about your experience, Brenda. That’s infuriating. I was lucky enough that my doctor was actually the one to recommend that I do this. It’s insane to suggest that by wanting to retain the ability to have a biological child, you’re hanging onto maleness or some such. My heart goes out to you.

      As for your post-script… No one has ever asked me that before… I’d have to give that one some thought…

      • Thumb up 0

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        Ms Catherwood, you rock! <3
        And as for my PS question, don't worry, I haven't yet even found the other half of that nice lesbian couple… so I figure it will be a long time before I can actually start thinking about children.

  4. Thumb up 2

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    thanks so much for writing this — it was really interesting and enjoyable to read, and is definitely giving me a lot to think about. i’ve never read anything like this before and i really appreciated everything, from the vivid personal story, the concise points at the end about what you’re NOT saying, and the thoughtful analysis throughout. i can only say thanks again for sharing a slice of your life!

  5. Thumb up 8

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    The furthest appointment I have on my calendar is in 2017. It’s for August 21st. There’s a total solar eclipse that day I hope to see if I’m still in the US and haven’t already caught one somewhere else in the world. I’ve only ever seen an annular. It made me realize I want to see a total eclipse at some point in my life.

    The second furthest appointment I have on my calendar is in 2015, when I have to remember to pay my next bill to make sure the last genetic material I have is kept viable. (A few years back I found some money and pre-paid enough years where I wouldn’t ever face a bill during graduate school when money is tight.)

    I also have some recurring appointments, mostly about birthdays for loved ones, but otherwise my calendar is blank that far out. So are my plans. I have no idea what I’ll be doing or which country I’ll be in, much less which city or state. I don’t know how much money I’ll have, or whether or not the people who have recurring events for their birthdays on my calendar will still be in my life. I also don’t know how I’ll feel about children by then.

    There’s a lot I don’t know about 2015. Most of what I do know is something about things that will definitely change between now and then. The last credit card they used will have definitely expired, for instance.

    One of the few things I do know is I’ll likely want to keep my options open.

    And that sometimes life can be pretty strange.

    • Thumb up 3

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      Six years ago, I thought I would become a presumptuous academic jackass with a PhD in Philosophy. One month into undergrad and I knew I wasn’t a jackass by any stretch of the imagination. But I didn’t think I would sojourn into the bay area for my transition, or that I would graduate with a Women’s Studies degree. Life is strange AND it can be fun too.

      • Thumb up 0

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        Sounds like you’re ahead of me. I still haven’t decided whether I want to become a presumptuous academic jackass with a PhD yet. I must want to keep my options open there too. :)

        I’m not sure I’d still be in my field if I had started a few years earlier than I did. Hell, I’m not sure I’ll still be in my field in a few years, now that I think about it.

  6. Thumb up 11

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    This was light-hearted, sweet, and serious all at the same time. The humor was great in this piece for such a complex subject. Thanks so much for sharing, I really enjoy your writing!

  7. Thumb up 9

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    This hit all too close to home…I know I want to be a parent someday. Like when I was still a kid I imagined taking *my* kids to my favorite museums and watching Star Wars with them (#nerdpride). I work with kids and know the utter chaos created by those “small, unemployed, inarticulate noise machines” all too well, but I still want them in my future.

    I also know I’ll never be able to biologically be a parent. I can’t get my female partner pregnant (though that sure as hell saves us money on contraceptives!). Dysphoria, transition, and the exorbitant cost of harvesting and freezing eggs make it impossible for me to use or bank my own genetic material.

    Most of the time, this doesn’t bother me. Most of the time, I know I’d be happy to adopt or get a donor (though I’m gonna mandate that the donor be a sci-fi geek). Just to hear that kid call me “Dad” someday, that’s enough.

    But then every once in a while I wish that kid might have my dimple, the same one my dad shares. I wish they’d have the round cheeks my grandmother has. I know I’m lucky–to have family that accepts me, to have the resources and privilege to even contemplate this kind of stuff–but I don’t know, is it so selfish to wish some part of my problematic body and its faulty blueprints might live on, help build something new and good?

    • Thumb up 4

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      Ok, I realize that I don’t know you, so I hope this isn’t weird or anything: Speaking as a person with a sort of shitty father, you seem like you’d be a wonderful dad.

    • Thumb up 1

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      Hello

      I’m a cis lesbian, married, with kids. We used donor sperm for one child and I gave birth. And my other kids are adopted. We chose adoption because we wanted to adopt – not because of fertility issues.

      When we started on our adoption journey, I learned from the other couples/singles trying to adopt with us, about the incredible pull that biology has when it comes to parenthood. It is universal and powerful. The agency had us do readings and discussions and exercises all centered on the grieving processes associated with not being able to have one’s own biological child. The agency felt this was necessary to honor that grief in order to find closure and be fully ready to adopt a child. It was a powerful experience, even for someone who HAD a biological child.

      I guess this is all to say that you are not alone. Of course, your experience/thoughts/feelings are yours alone, valid, and informed by your trans experience but in some ways they are universal, too.

      And, for me, I sometimes find comfort in not feeling alone.

    • Thumb up 2

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      Also, don’t forget that even if your eventual child is not crafted from your bio-materials, they might still end up looking like you.

      People often stop me on the street to tell me how much my daughter looks like me, and she came out of my partner’s vagina, using sperm-in-a-jar from a good friend.

    • Thumb up 3

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      If it helps, it’s not uncommon for adopted children to look remarkably like their parents because of shared mannerisms, etc. I’ve even heard people with adopted children of different races be told by strangers how alike they look.

      • Thumb up 1

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        That can be really problematic, though, to bank on. I’d encourage you to read things written by adoptees and those conceived via gamete donation about genetic heritage. Whether or not it’s comfortable for us, genetic heritage IS important. I speak as the granddaughter of a slightly-transracial adoptee, an egg donor, and the sister and cousin of first mothers.
        That’s one HUGE issue with all of these new developments in infertility treatments. A lot of people who use gamete donors fail to tell their children about it, or make it seem as though that genetic heritage isn’t important. It’s really damaging and pretty selfish of the parents. It’s been on my mind lately both as an egg donor and also as someone who will most likely use a sperm donor to have a child, as well as a probable future adoptive parent.

  8. Thumb up 8

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    3 years ago I made the hard decision to forgo any freezing of my genetic materiale — the cost, prohibitive, but could’ve been made to work for the first few years — and to start taking hormones.

    I think I lucked out, insofar as after going full-time, I went through a period of long-time unemployment, probably extending from all the hurdles and gates of being trans and in corporate America. The money I had either went to trying to pay bills or transitioning costs, and it evaporated quickly, which would’ve meant that only a year or two later that materiale probably would’ve been destroyed.

    I do not regret that decision — at the time it was the best one afforded to me — but of course I am wistful. My girl and I talk often of what it would be like to have a cute one that had all the excellence of the both of us, and we are constantly reading articles on the newest fertility and artificial ways scientists are learning to create eggs and sperm and what-not from non-existent partners or whatever. We think that maybe one day there will be enough science to be able to create a genetic child from the both of us, even though I am so infertile it is like some medieval army salted the earth of my loins. The ironic thing is that it is likely a process like that would cost 100x the amount it would to cost for me to freeze my sperm for a couple of decades.

    Still, I work with lots of foster youth these days, and seeing how many kids go through the process and age out of it at 18 is heartbreaking, and I think that providing a loving home for one of these kids one day could be just as grand as seeing my own kid with my bushy eyebrows and my girl’s dimples running around that house.

    Thank you for Rhiannon sharing and bringing light to some of the hard decisions and experiences that many trans people live with every day.

    • Thumb up 1

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      The cost, absolutely, is a significant issue that makes these choices very difficult; it did for me too. I teach only part time; I’m still studying for my doctorate – the cost certainly weighed on my mind as well. To open the big can of worms – as we inch toward a time, perhaps, when transition related care is covered by more insurance providers, the costs of harvesting and preserving genetic material should really be covered as well.

      Thanks for your thoughts. :)

      And becoming a foster or adoptive parent is a wonderful thing to do.

      • Thumb up 1

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        That idea is so fascinating…coverage of preserving genetic material. I have had to and am continuing to mourn the fact that I’m 99% sure that I will NOT be able to have a biological child with my future wife, as egg + egg does not equal baby, unfortunately.
        If it helps to think about/compare to cis women, many, many are unable to have biological children as they didn’t freeze their eggs earlier in life, pursued a career, and society didn’t support them being a working mother, so when they finally broke free of that societal judgment, their eggs were too old to use. It’s such an either/or choice for these women. “You can’t have it all!” and such. I donated my eggs last year to a couple in the Netherlands who were facing that issue. The wife had waited too long, and by too long I mean she was just approaching forty. Forty! It seems so young to me, but her eggs disagreed.
        That is why infertility rates are at an all time high. Not environmental toxins, etc, but more women choosing to work instead of procreating and then being housewives right off the bat. Sad, sad.
        Anyway, I’m sorry you faced that issue. I do think the issue lies in changing societal pressures (must get bottom surgery to legally change gender, must choose either having kids and staying home, or working and having no kids), not so much a lack of insurance coverage. I know a lot of women are freezing their eggs recently for this reason.

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          It’s not an entirely new idea, actually. It’s not uncommon for insurance providers to cover the preservation of genetic material for other reasons – like if cancer treatments will compromise the patient’s fertility, that sort of thing. I think, with that in mind, there’s an argument for covering this as a part of transition-related care as well.

          You bring up an interesting point as far as infertility in cis-women. It’s a subject I don’t know a great deal about, but thanks for your thoughts.

  9. Thumb up 5

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    Thanks so much for writing this, and as someone said above, the sperm bank jokes were wonderful.

    I’m also so happy that you live in a country that allowed you to do so. In quite a few European countries it’s actually illegal for Trans* people to freeze their eggs or sperm, which makes me so very very angry.

  10. Thumb up 1

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    I was a little disappointed. Yeah it’s pretty cool that you got to bank some sperm, but there’s a lot of us who can’t afford to do so and certainly can’t afford to do it in a timely manner. I was hoping the article might talk about something like that, rather than just a little personal piece. It’s something that still upsets me a great deal because I can’t afford to bank sperm–but I also can’t afford to put off transition. It really isn’t fair and I feel it’s something that we don’t talk about enough in our community.

    • Thumb up 10

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      I’m sorry you were disappointed. I did consider the issue of cost as I was writing this (which is a large part of why the only advice I have is “please consider this” rather than “Save your baby gravy! Do it!” – I realize that not everyone can afford to), but in the end, the issue of the difficulty in the costs of transition-related healthcare (which, when it comes down to it, I consider this to be transition-related healthcare), simply wasn’t the subject of this article.

      For whatever it’s worth, if you were to write such an article – an article on wrestling with the decision in the absence of funding, I would be interested in reading it.

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        This is a potent and very salient point for myself as money and what I can and can’t allocate it for is a concern. Rhiannon I would love to chat with your privately about this as I am local but for some reason Autostraddle is not allowing messages to be sent to you? Weird.

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        Well, for what your piece was, I thought it was still a good read. But I’m also concerned with bringing things like this forward that are an important part of trans rights.

        I probably should write something about it myself. I’ve kinda of been turning my tumblr blog into something more than me just reblogging things I find amusing or cool or worth seeing and so my blog has some things addressing a trans issue here and there. But if I did write an article regarding it I may be more liable to try to write it more about the issue and less about my personal struggle with it. Try to get people familiar with the issues and discourse… I dunno… guess both could be done.

        And thank you for your response. I’m sorry it’s taken me awhile to respond. Kinda busy with school and work @.@

  11. Thumb up 5

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    Just wanted to say that I’m really enjoying hearing trans* peoples’ experiences here on Autostraddle – a healthy society needs to realise its diversity, and trans* people have been marginalised for too long. Also, the writing’s been lovely, so all in all, it’s been a genuine pleasure and I hope it continues. Great work everyone!

  12. Thumb up 1

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    Thanks for sharing this!

    I just wanted to point out that yeah–a lot of people are transitioning early. However, a lot of people transition without HRT or a hysterectomy, for example. So I think the great spam of different narratives out there also challenges this idea that in order to transition you would necessarily have to become infertile.

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    I found this piece very enlightening. Trans women who are, or are considering being, parents are a part of the community about which I knew little and I’m glad to broaden my horizons.

    I didn’t freeze anything due do a combination of being broke and being ambivalent, but I feel somewhat privileged in that I don’t regret it. For myself, I feel like the fact that I could never “mother” a child in the way a fertile cis woman could was “sterility” enough, and I would be no less awkward raising a child parented by my sperm as I would an adopted child or a child parented by another person’s sperm.

    It’s weird because I don’t want kids, but I feel so inferior that I would never have been capable of having them the “right” way in the first place.

    • Thumb up 1

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      :/

      I suppose its inevitable we’ll all feel a little differently about that. I won’t try to tell you you shouldn’t feel that way about saving/using your sperm, or the inferiority or “wrongness” about it…

      I hate to hear people feeling like their bodies or their lives are in some way “inferior”, but if in this case that’s leading to you living without regret over this, then that’s a good end. :)

  14. Thumb up 0

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    This is so relevant to myself as well. As someone who has a looming appointment with a one way surgery I have been considering the importance of this but am hampered, like a lot, by the sheer costs involved. My partner and I would love to have children, and count on it in fact eventually, but finances are simply prohibitive for someone who is paying a school, rather than working for one. :)
    We plan to find a donor or adopt, although the former is more likely with less issues.

    Also: HEY! Chicago is my turf, I am a (much older) 3rd year at DePaul in WGS.

    • Thumb up 2

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      Nice :)

      I find that how I describe where I’m from varies depending on who I’m talking to. If I’m talking to someone from Chicago, I tell them I live way the hell out in DeKalb – but the further away someone lives, the more likely the conversation will go:
      “Where do you live?”
      “I live in DeKalb.”
      “Where’s that?”
      “Near Chicago.”

      So I tend to cut corners and just go with that.

  15. Thumb up 1

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    Reading this almost felt like reading something typed up by me sometime in the future as a message reminding me of the weight of all my decisions in the process of transitioning. I’ve put careful thought into making sure that I can transition and still be a parent one day, and have considered many options to that effect. Reading this was quite refreshing; thanks for posing it.

  16. Thumb up 2

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    Wonderful!

    This brought me back almost ten years to my own awkward moment, standing before an embarrassed nurse at a university research hospital fertility clinic as I quietly explained that “my husband” was not going to donate, that I had no husband, and that yes, it was indeed I who had the appointment. Donating sperm as a transsexual woman was still very novel at the time; the doctor had only heard of one other who had done so.

    I did not have your deliciously brazen humour to disarm the shocked staff. I found the oozing masculinity of the cubicles oppressively creepy. (“My god, is that a pleather couch?”) But I managed enthusiasm for the process nonetheless.

    The extraction process itself I’ve dumped core on. But I made my deposits, twice. I somehow won over the clinician, who invited me into the lab to see my own gametes, as I delicately called them. They were indeed cute, wiggling about like tadpoles. I bid them all prayers from mama for good dreams through the long night’s sleep.

    She showed me the cryo-vats themselves, with tiny vials lined up just like in Jurassic Park. I could only marvel at the gallons of desperate hope contained there, ambivalently wondering if it was all worth it on the grand scale, as the human race had just zipped past 6 billion hungry mouths.

    At 25, I was then considered a “young transitioner”; no longer, and thank the gods for that indicator of speedy progress!

    But it would indeed be a shame if the consideration of reproduction were somehow edited out as the standard age of transition precipitously drops from middle age to the utopian joy of trans childhoods lived much freer in one’s own skin. I see these kids, their well meaning parents and doctors making decisions for them in a realm which before had been ever more becoming a for-us-by-us experience.

    And I worry. Will the grown ups around them someday dip into the sometimes violent paternalism visited upon intersex babies in deciding their reproductive futures? Is it cynical to believe that many cisgender people, even “helping professionals”, would once again assert that they rather we ought not reproduce, and somehow start “forgetting” to provide reproductive options to transitioning children and teens?

    After all, Harry Benjamin was tied to the eugenics movement in his pre-war years. I’ve often wondered how much of his programme was inspired by the movement to sterilize “invert” Queer people.

    To my mind, it is imperative in the future of TG activism that reproductive agency be secured and asserted for all during the transition process.

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    What I’m hoping is that they’ll just be able to organ-print us ovaries and uteruses in the future. I know they can already print things like livers and bladders, and uterus transplants have been successful in the past, so I’m sure we’ll have them before too long. :)
    So, if anything, future generations of transpeople will not only have cheaper SRS’s (just have them grow a new vagina etc for you), but be able to mother/father children in a body they feel at home in. :D
    Also, I know it won’t be long before they can take someone’s DNA and put it into someone else’s sperm, so two women will be able to have children together soon. This also means that we will no longer need men. Lesbianocracy! :P (this is great for intersex people too, as well as gay men, who could have an egg edited. They’d still need a surrogate, though.)
    So anyway, the future looks bright for GSM (Gender and Sexual Minorities) people who want children. :)
    This is good news for me, because I’m transitioning young (please be this summer! *crosses fingers*). I’m 19 right now and neither I nor my family has the money for sperm-banking while I’m in college.
    Anyways, I’m really glad everything worked out for you! This article gives me hope that I will be able to have children in the event that these medical advances take longer to develop than it takes me to find someone(s) to settle down with. :)

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      Well that would certainly change the game! I wonder if I’ll actually see that technology become widely available in my lifetime – it would be pretty fantastic. I’ll admit I’m also kind of intrigued by the whole Lesbianocracy idea…

      Good luck with your transition!

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    I stored sperm right before starting hormones, and I had the same experience with the doctor being humorless. My particular joke regarded turkey basters in relation artificial insemination. He thought I was just ignorant on the topic and took five minutes lecturing me on how it worked. I had actually done the research on it beforehand.

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    you’re comfortable with keeping your penis and lifting up your skirt to masturbate at the sperm bank? but you would like to identify and be addressed as a woman and/or a lesbian? not sure i get this.
    talk about having your cake…

    this irks me in regards that lesbian couples can’t have children together, but you have no issue with taking advantage of your genitals while also claiming a community that’s denied that privilege.
    why isn’t this even being addressed here?

    yes, this should be a place to be supportive, but i think what’s missing around here is real discussions surrounding these topics that not many people understand – that often will get dismissed as “transphobic” or whatever else.

    i just see a lot of circle jerks ;)

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      There are many things that I find questionable about your comment, especially on a site like Autostraddle, which is explicitly trans*-inclusive. But I will only ask you one question, which I think summarizes it all: Why do you speak as if you’re a better judge on who can rightly claim to be a woman/lesbian than that person themselves?
      Trans* people, just like cis people, have very different attitudes towards their bodies… some of us literally hate the parts we were born with, others (me included) just somewhat dislike them (as in “I wish they were different”) and a few of us really have no issue at all with their bits. I think accepting your own body, no matter what it looks like (including your genitals) is generally a good thing, something we should compliment others for, not try to convince them that they are wrong and they should hate some of their organs if they want to have the right to call themselves women or lesbians. Doing that is profoundly sexist, and obviously not what we as feminists should encourage.
      Trans people generally face many disadvantages in this world, just as women as a whole do. One such issue is our inability to bear children (which, by the way, is clearly not something that applies exclusively to trans women). I wouldn’t say we are a community denied the privilege of being able to bear children… it has more to do with biology than with some sort of prohibition. Having the ability to produce sperm and have biological children with another woman might look like a small ‘advantage’ that our bodies have given us… that kind of advantage, just like any other such differences among women shouldn’t make any difference on whether we can identify as women or lesbians or whatever.
      Bear in mind, too, that these are our bodies to do as we please with them, including freezing our assets.

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          I identify as a transman, I take testosterone, I bind my chest and I have sex vaginally. The simplest way I feel I can explain this is, even though you have a toy that is the wrong color and to get the color you want costs at a minimum of $25,000. So that really leaves you two options, let that toy sit on the shelf and feel bad (or don’t) that you don’t have the right color OR enjoy what you have until you can have what you want.

          Hope this helps.

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      I’ve learned that “comfort” is a relative thing. If I were comfortable keeping my original anatomy, then I wouldn’t have had to bank sperm to begin with. Am I comfortable masturbating in a creepy room? Not really, but I’m more comfortable masturbating in a creepy room than I am with losing my ability to procreate. I think many people probably would be.

      As to the question of privilege. Is it any more a privilege for me to “take advantage of my genitals” by banking sperm than it is a privilege for other lesbians to “take advantage of their genitals” by becoming pregnant via artificial insemination? We could note that both of these are actually privileges that people suffering infertility or facing greater financial difficulties don’t have, but I don’t see one as any more privileged than the other. If anything, I would certainly prefer to be able to get pregnant myself; that I can’t have that experience has always caused me some pain. However, while I don’t want to define any other trans-person’s experience, to me, being happy and being trans means being able to make the best of a bad situation, and this is one example of how I’ve tried to do so.

      I certainly don’t want to stifle any discussion, although one thing I will not do is spend any time defending my right to identify as a woman or as a lesbian, nor would I ask you to defend your right to identify in those ways.

      Take care,
      RC

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