Sat, Apr 12, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Pregnant man points way to new identities

By Joseph Ho 雿???

An excited transgender friend asked me on MSN if I had heard the news about a US female-to-male transsexual who recently became pregnant. My friend has to undergo kidney dialysis every day, apart from other medical problems, but such news always brings a glimmer of hope: At least it adds another possible turn to the difficult course of events in a transgender life.

Such turns are quite rare in the existing script of a transgender life. And this is exactly where the problem lies: Everybody seems to expect transsexual people to tell the same story, a story of ?? soul trapped in the wrong body,??and the determined search to find a ??rue self.??And when this quest for the ??rue self??is to be proven with a relentlessness that strives forward regardless of the price to be paid, then how could a transgender person still harbor a lingering sense of attachment to their original reproductive organs, their sensual feelings and functions? Consequently, full identification with the target gender, and showing only the behavior of that gender, has become the only way for transgender people to validate their identity.

Living in a social environment that allows only simple identification with one gender, transsexual people undergoing psychological assessment for sex reassignment surgery often feel that they can only tell one possible life story, have one ultimate goal ??and have one gender ??one absolute and thorough gender identification. For if they appear in any way to be half-hearted, hesitant or not entirely sure about their gender, then the assessment would be decided against their hope for surgery.

It is for these reasons that at any moment in everyday life, all complicated or conflicting feelings and hopes have to be muffled, hidden and forgotten. The lives of transgender people are to be simplified and rarefied; they can never allow the full complexity of their inner world to come to light.

What is really moving about the pregnant transman is that he has managed to preserve his original reproductive organs in the no-turning-back process of undergoing a sex change and is using these organs for their traditional function.

Such a condition of being neither male nor female, and at the same time both female and male, would possibly not even be allowed in other countries. And even within the transgender community, there might be challenges to the purity of this transman?? motives for changing sex.

At a seminar on transgender issues three years ago in Taiwan, two brave female-to-male transgender people openly talked about difficulties in their sex lives. They posed a straightforward question to the audience: Should their female reproductive organs, their feminine feelings and their female patterns of sexual pleasure be forgotten and abandoned in the transition process? Why can?? the experiences of their life as women become a valuable source of wisdom in their new life as men? Why must they start from scratch? Why must old bodies be negated before a new life can begin?

To take this thought one step further: If a person could decide to change their sex through surgery, then could other people also make a similar decision to become both woman and man, or neither man nor woman?

Life and gender are never clear-cut matters. Only when their complicated, convoluted, twisted and intermingled state is allowed to come into sight can new stories, new possibilities, new turns and new realities be allowed to shine upon our overly rarefied thoughts. This is the true insight of the news of the pregnant transman.

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