The Pregnant Man

On April 3, the Oprah show featured Thomas, The Pregnant Man. Thomas and his wife of five years, Nancy, are expecting a baby girl. Thomas was born Tracy, a female, and during his 20s went through certain physical procedures and treatments to become a legal male. If Oprah is featuring a transgender individual on her show, what does this mean for pop culture?

Honestly, my first reaction to seeing The Pregnant Man was “finally, science is on our side!” Meaning, sweet, now my husband can carry our future babies, and not me. Yes, this is just my own wishful thinking clouding logical thought. Based on the response of the audience on the Oprah show, a lot of women were doing some wishful thinking too.

Once Oprah explained how it was possible for a man to be pregnant (by being born a biological female), she introduced Thomas. Oprah discussed Thomas’s past, why he decided to become a man, and how, exactly, he became a man.

Oprah got into a few issues of gender. One issue that was briefly brought up is the difference between gender and sexuality. When Thomas was a teenager (and still living as Tracy), she dated males. Eventually Tracy began dating females, and then realized that when she woke up in the morning, she felt like a man. So she decided to physical become a man, because that’s who she felt she really was.

Oprah asked Thomas why he didn’t just live his life as a lesbian, and stay a woman and date other women. He politely pointed out that this is a gender issue, and not just a sexuality issue. It’s not just that he wanted to make it more convenient to date women by making his outward appearance masculine, but he was a man in a biological woman’s body. I think this is something that many non-transgender individuals don’t always understand. And it makes me wonder – are there any female to male transsexuals that are attracted to men? Next topic for Oprah?

Another interesting moment came when Oprah talking to Thomas and Nancy’s neighbors, a 40-something married couple. They knew the couple was expecting, they just figured it was Nancy who was pregnant, and were surprised when they found out it was Thomas. The male neighbor explained that he couldn’t quite get his mind around it at first – it was a “sexually dyslexic moment” for him. Interesting way to put it. I think he meant well, but unfortunately comparing someone’s sexuality (and ultimately in this case, gender identity) to a learning disability didn’t seem quite as enlightened as Oprah made it seem. Perhaps he meant he (the neighbor) felt sexually dyslexic, but perhaps a better word could have been used.

In the end, Oprah asked Thomas and Nancy if she thought the world was ready for them – ready for a pregnant man, who also happened to be a former biological female now male. On the one hand, Thomas and Nancy were just like any other couple – preparing for a new baby, eager to raise it in a loving household, and just trying to live a normal life. But on the other hand, is the world (or at least, the US) ready for them? A country where large pockets want to legally ban gay marriage – even though Thomas is legally a man and thus their marriage is legal, there are certainly some individuals that would object to their marriage, or even Thomas being a legal male. Or consider that in the US, some states have banned gay adoption. Technically, Nancy and Thomas are not a gay couple, and they’re not adopting, but certainly the attitudes shown in the US regarding gays and lesbians, especially their right to marry, adopt and raise children, serve in the military, and many other things, can shine a little light on what kinds of attitudes might be displayed against them.

However, as they pointed out, Thomas and Nancy went on the Oprah show (and shared their story with People magazine), because they wanted to tell their story, from their view, and not be exploited. And, as Oprah pointed out, there were very courageous to do so. I only hope that the love and support they have for each other, and from their families and friends can far outshine any negative backlash they receive from others.

And who knows how many other Pregnant Men there will be in the future.

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