Thanksgiving is one of the few chances I have to see my grand-nephew, Mason. The kid's just getting into everything, and he's got the same brown hair that I and my nieces have. There is no doubt in my mind he'll be a heartbreaker someday.

I look at my two nieces, Heather (Mason's mother) and Savannah, and it occurs to me that we all have roughly the same look -- a pile of brown curls, and dark eyes that peer from underneath.

Of course, it takes a certain amazing, powerful love to take someone who doesn't happen to be biologically related to you into your home and give them the support that their closer relatives in the world cannot -- but there are people who would never dream of having children, partly because they think they couldn't love a child that wasn't related to them. Evolutionarily, they might well be right -- but the point is moot for so many who are gay, lesbian, or transgendered; they face certain obstacles in the process of conceiving. Gay men and transwomen have a certain lack of womb and eggs, and gay women and transmen are of course sperm-free. Personally, even though I used to promise myself that I would adopt, if I ever wanted kids, I have found myself feeling deep loss that I'll never be able to feel what it is like to have another life growing inside me, due to being born male. (Also, for a long time, I didn't realize I'd ever start on estrogen, and wow, is the resulting increased awareness of the biological clock loud. I've already found myself daydreaming about what the baby's room is going to look like in extreme detail -- already picked out what kind of mobile I want over the crib! -- and it gives me pause every time it happens.)

Science, as so often happens, may be filling the void sooner than I ever thought it could happen. A recent BBC article talks about reactions to a technology that allows anybody with bone marrow to create sperm. Lesbian couples the world over can just pick whichever partner they wish to provide the spermatozoa, and voila -- egg plus sperm, and you've got insemination materials.

There are some current limitations, of course -- there's not an egg production process that would provably work in humans yet, and if both the egg donor and sperm donor are XX, there's no chance for a Y chromosome to stray into the equation, and hence no chance of a boy. (Whereas a couple that are both XY using the same technology for egg production would have 2/3rds male children to female children, because there are two combinations of their genes resulting in an XY configuration, but only one in an XX). Further, it does involve drilling a bone and making a marrow withdrawal, not exactly everybody's idea of a fun weekend.

Having said this, I couldn't see why -- as the process became less and less specialized -- that eventually people might not be able to have kits for generating sperm or eggs, ones that can be purchased at a local store and used with a blood sample to generate a few billion sperm or a couple dozen eggs for the user.

Back at my mother's living room, I'm pretty sure I'm not stable enough to take care of a child any time soon, personally. Also, I muse as I watch my niece Heather finding it very difficult to move with her enormously bulging 8-month-pregnant body, maybe not being able to do that isn't such a bad thing -- for now, anyway.

And who knows -- once I'm ready, maybe the science will allow me to actually bear the child, instead of just watching other people do it.

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