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Journo Takes On Thomas Beatie’s Femininity

pregnantthomas.jpg
Journo Jeff Jacoby doesn’t hold pregnant trans man Thomas Beatie in high regard:

Could anything be more incoherent or sad? Gender Identity Disorder is not “incredible,” no matter how politically fashionable it has become to claim otherwise. It is not just another hue in the rainbow of diversity. It is a dysfunction. It should be met with sympathy, counseling, and therapy, not with five-page spreads in People and appearances on Oprah.

Headlines notwithstanding, there is no “pregnant man.” There is only a confused and unsettled woman, who proclaims that surgery, hormones, and clothing made her a man, and is clinging to that fiction even as the baby growing in her womb announces her womanhood to the world.

We can’t say we’re surprised by Jacoby’s reaction – he once argued that legalizing sodomy would lead to an explosion of incest and bestiality.

By:           Andrew Belonksy
On:           Apr 14, 2008
Tagged: , , , , , ,
  • 34 Comments
    • foofyjim
      foofyjim

      I still applaud this MAN for his strength and courage to face his fears and realities, to define himself for himself, to develop a loving bond with another human being, and to augment that relationship through child-birth.

      Apr 14, 2008 at 11:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tim in SF
      Tim in SF

      Am I a bad person for seeing Jacoby’s point? Umm. not just point, but every point he made?

      Could anything be more incoherent or sad?

      No.

      Gender Identity Disorder is not “incredible,” no matter how politically fashionable it has become to claim otherwise.

      True.

      It is not just another hue in the rainbow of diversity. It is a dysfunction.

      Also true.

      It should be met with sympathy, counseling, and therapy, not with five-page spreads in People and appearances on Oprah.

      Perhaps true.

      Headlines notwithstanding, there is no “pregnant man.”

      Again, also true.

      There is only a confused and unsettled woman, who proclaims that surgery, hormones, and clothing made her a man, and is clinging to that fiction even as the baby growing in her womb announces her womanhood to the world.

      Sadly, true.

      Apr 14, 2008 at 11:42 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chaq
      Chaq

      What is truly “incoherent and sad” are the myriad ramblings of frightened and ignorant people, those who when affronted by another whose identity and physicality doesn’t conform to their own understanding of gender and sexuality, resort to deeply hurtful and mistaken commentaries in an attempt to impose some kind of (ineffectual) order on a world that’s changing and one that they are profoundly threatened by.
      What is joyful and worthy of celebration is the freedom of diversity and expression that some of us are allowed to enjoy, a freedom that allows us to be who we want to be.
      To see people attack the dignity and humanity of another because of their differences is a very affront to all that we hold dear in terms of personal and social liberty.

      Apr 14, 2008 at 12:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Adam
      Adam

      Whether or not we believe that the T has a place in our LGB acronym is beside the point. What we have here is a transgendered woman, who has undergone hormone therapy to take the appearance of a man. This is not extraordinary.

      And even while she has “legally” changed her gender to male, the fact of the matter is that James still has biologically female parts. And he used those biologically female parts to become pregnant. Also, not extraordinary.

      What is extraordinary, is the fact that James and his wife are using this occasion to generate pre-sale interest for the book that he is working on – and that everyone is buying his “we just want to tell the story before the media does” crap hook line and sinker.

      Just seeing the way James discusses his “journey” seems disingenuous and somewhat fake. It looks to me like this is nothing more than a calculated public relations initiative on the part of James and his wife to sensationalize exploit a pregnancy and transgendered issues with the selfish purpose of selling a book.

      Beatie will find no argument from me. This is incoherent and sad – and despicable and disgusting.

      A biological woman is pregnant. A selfish person is trying to exploit it. Not a big deal and we should ignore it.

      Apr 14, 2008 at 12:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      For whatever it is worth, I agree with Tim in SF and if what Adam says is true, about the book and all I agree too.

      Now, as a Gay guy, I’m all for live and let live. But if you are a man in a woman’s body and then have to take hormone injections; have various surgeries, (to become a man) etc. etc.etc. are you really a man? I’m not talking about the genetic things like Turner’s or Klinefelters nor am I speaking of babies born with vestiges of both sexes.

      Again, do what you want, but as stated already, there is no ‘pregnant man’ story here.

      And who decided T goes with LGB anyway? It seems like a separate issue to me.

      Another thing I find confusing – I have met a number of Trans guys who felt there were a woman trapped in a man’s body. So they go through gender reassignment – and then enter in to Lesbian relationships. Most of them were married, so they were ALREADY with a woman. ???

      Apr 14, 2008 at 12:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ben
      Ben

      This is very simple really. Women have the ability to become pregnant and men do not. This isn’t about definitions or wishful thinking, but about biology. The question of gender in this case seemed null in the face of biological fact. In general I file this story in the “Just How Dumb Have We Become?” cabinet.

      Apr 14, 2008 at 12:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chris
      Chris

      Re: Jaroslaw

      That’s because gender identity and sexual orientation are completely different. Imagine you suddenly wake up the opposite sex. Do you suddenly lose interest in whichever sex you were previously interested in? No.

      Apr 14, 2008 at 12:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • abracadaver
      abracadaver

      I think that many people are confusing “sex” with “gender”. Sex is biological; no matter how many surgeries or hormone treatments Mr. Beatie has, he will always be biologically female. However, gender is not so set in stone. Gender is perceived, both by the trans person themselves and by society at large. Gender perception and expression have nothing to do with biological sex.

      In this regard, Mr. Beatie is indeed a man insofar as his gender. He thinks of himself as a man and wishes to be treated as such. A tolerant society would and should do so. But this doesn’t change the fact that, biologically, Mr. Beatie will always be female.

      Apr 14, 2008 at 1:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • M Shane
      M Shane

      The observation which Jacoby makes is, on the one hand ignorant of the position which many of take to be true, and that is that the condition of transexuality is for all practical purposes a genetic predispossition. Thaty implies that no amout of therapy is going to change it. Like being gay.
      On the other hand, Thomas’ choice to assume a prototyical radical feminine role flies in the face of any of the assumptions which we make about the subjective priority of that choice, which seems to make a lier or a schiophrenic out of him/her in his assertion that he was “male inside” since he is now “inside” a woman in the most extreme way.

      I’m all for the hyjinx of Myra Breckenridge and have thought that it might be a kick to be a woman sometime(if I could revise rapidly).

      The faux pas here is that of outing a very damaging image of transexuality in the publics eye-who may take the claims of transexuals seriously : face it : if you fully feel like a man insde, you don’t go and have babies. As a surogate at that.
      How many f>m trans like to wear dresses and ribbons and bows.

      I hope that he is handling the pregnancy well and doesn’t feel unnatural which he would if he was truely a trans. it has the aspect of a publicity stunt. which could harm the transexual cause and confuse people.

      As far as being an act of sexual anarchy that would be ok by me.

      Apr 14, 2008 at 1:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • M Shane
      M Shane

      p.s. abracadaver being pregnant is a gender role and is unrelated to any biological sex involved.

      Apr 14, 2008 at 1:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • abracadaver
      abracadaver

      “Being pregnant is a gender role and is unrelated to any biological sex involved.” HUH??? Being pregnant is entirely based on biology; it requires ovaries, ovum, and a uterus. It has nothing to do with gender. Gender is an expression and a perception. I can “perceive” myself to be female all I like, but I’ll never be pregnant because I am biologically male.

      what is confusing about this to you?

      Apr 14, 2008 at 1:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kid A
      Kid A

      Being pregnant is unrelated to sex?!?

      Apr 14, 2008 at 1:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SeaFlood
      SeaFlood

      First: Gender Identity Disorder is to transgender what whatever “disorder” they called homosexuality prior to 1975… FAKE. It is a hoop through which Trans people who want to take hormones and transition physically, a way in which cisgendered people “control” other people’s identity least the “norms” get confused.

      Secondly: This story is NOT even interesting. This is not the first time it has happened. Not novel. And not because of the “female parts” because because men have been having babies forever — in the same fashion since “man” like “woman” is a socially constructed situation… the line between the two is so thin!

      Ugh… people, get a life.

      Apr 14, 2008 at 3:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • abracadaver
      abracadaver

      The language usage alone of the last post was too convoluted to even understand the point, if there even was one.

      Apr 14, 2008 at 3:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Chris – thanks for the explanation but it isn’t simple at all! I certainly get Gender Identity is different than your “chromosomes” – and we are taught to a great extent what it is to be male or female. But I don’t know how your explanation of “suppose you wake up one morning the opposite sex.” Well, by that logic, if I was a boy and woke up thinking I was girl then at least 90% of the time I would, as a girl, then be interested in boys. I suppose. There is no handbook that says one is automatically still interested in the gender of person prior to the waking up & changing experience. And I don’t mean disrespect, really, but there was an article in US News last year; a man in Sweden or someplace wanted his leg cut off. They didn’t say whether or not he had other mental issues, but where does “reality” leave off and one’s “perception” begin? Is there a difference between “perception” and “want”? As in “I want to be other than the gender I am?” As for Abracadaver, is Beatie “wants to be treated as a man” then why is Beatie pregnant?

      Apr 14, 2008 at 3:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      sorry, I got twisted around- my 2nd sentence above is incomplete (starting on the third line)this is to Chris – simply saying “suppose you wake up one morning” makes no sense at all to me. Is Beatie saying he always thought he was a man? Again, if so, why is he pregnant? And I don’t buy “my wife can’t get pregnant.” Adopt.

      Apr 14, 2008 at 3:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • abracadaver
      abracadaver

      I can’t speak for Mr. Beatie, Chris. You’ll have to ask him why a man would want to be pregnant. Personally, I am very happy being a man and have never wanted to be the opposite sex or gender, but I have also always been a bit envious of the ability of women to have babies. All the need if they want to be a mother is a sperm sample; we, as men, have to find a woman willing to bear our child(ren), and then usually support her and the child.

      From that perspective, I can see how a man would want to be a “mother.” If science suddenly gave men the ability to become pregnant, I’d be first in line.

      Apr 14, 2008 at 4:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • abracadaver
      abracadaver

      Sorry, last post was meant for Jaroslaw.

      Apr 14, 2008 at 4:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • M Shane
      M Shane

      I don’t think I would personally ever want to be pregnant or to have a pot belly if I could help it.
      abracadaver (11. above): both actually; if having children and perpetuating the race and bloodlines was both the social role of women, thier place (gender) in society would be very different, indeed, given competative nature of man, women might have been judged to be an unnecessary burden to the tribe if they didn’t bear children.E.g.take Henry VIII’s need for an heir in his selection of someone of the female gender. My meaning was that pregnancy was a thing unrelated necessarily to the sexual act itself, or sexual preferrance.

      Apr 14, 2008 at 5:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      To Abracadaver – I wasn’t “asking” why Beatie is pregnant, I was responding to your statement that Beatie “wants to be treated like a man.” Well, if so, then it can hardly be considered mean and insensitive for the Gay community to view this with suspicion that perhaps it is a manipulation for a book, Beatie is confused, or whatever.

      Whether men in general are envious of women’s childbirthing capacity, however interesting, is a subject for another day.

      Apr 14, 2008 at 5:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Phoenix (the Nancy, not the Pale one)
      Phoenix (the Nancy, not the Pale one)

      Transgender: “…is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies that diverge from the normative gender role (woman or man) commonly, but not always, assigned at birth, as well as the role traditionally held by society.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender

      Ahem, I believe that description fits Thomas Beatie.

      Also, plenty of MTF transgendered persons have FATHERED biological children. Even though they still have the XY chromosomes, they still are called trans-WOMEN. Doesn’t FTMs deserve the same consideration?

      Apr 14, 2008 at 10:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • abracadaver
      abracadaver

      Very well stated, Phoenix. Thanks for adding some clarity and thoughtful invective to the discussion.

      Apr 15, 2008 at 7:47 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • sugarsmack
      sugarsmack

      It’s no surprise that Beatie is stirring up feelings of “eww” from the same old, supposed normals. How do you convince the general public that you are a man born into a woman’s body and that you deserve to be taken seriously as someone who identifies as male when you decide to carry a child and flaunt your female reproductive organs? I understand that having a uterus has nothing to do with gender, but the general population does not. Almost everyone else sees somebody who is very confused or who is a nutjob. That’s unfortunate.

      Apr 15, 2008 at 8:38 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      RE: Sugarsmack – there are a lot of thoughts and questions in this post that are unaddressed and many including yourself keep saying “female organs have nothing to do with gender etc.” This is not the same thing as saying One’s own perception of gender identity differs from their biological make up (genitals, chromosomes etc.) But I would like someone to explain what I already asked – how are you a “man” if you are born a woman (again, not talking about vestiges of both, Klinefelters etc.) but you “feel” you are a man in a woman’s body but you need surgery, to cut off body parts, AND hormone injections to become this? How is that “natural”? I’m not saying I object, I’ve made it very clear that people are free to do what they like in my book, but surely it shouldn’t be beyond comprehension why some or many would find all the treatments way out there.

      Apr 15, 2008 at 9:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SeaFlood
      SeaFlood

      But see, when you start talking about what’s “normal” you leave yourself open or align yourself with those very forces that seek to oppress you. Many people feel that a man loving another man or having sex with one isn’t “normal” either. They will use biology to back that up and to further oppress us.

      What is normal anyway?

      Apr 15, 2008 at 11:19 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Seaflood – I totally understand what you’re trying to say – and I could write a novel here. (and I did use the word natural as opposed to “normal”) Anything the religious right has to say or the social conformists – I can find an answer, at least a partial one. For example, Catholicism taught for centuries sex was only for procreation and begrudgingly done at that. Anyone want to try promoting that today? Or that once procreative processes stop, that adults stop having sex? Humans are the only beings who have sex outside of reproduction AND after being too old to reproduce. There are thousands of years of history of various kinds of sex (male prostitution was allowed and taxed in the Roman empire etc.)
      And I won’t bring up the pheromone studies and brain scans and all that stuff because maybe we haven’t found the same kind of objective scientific markers for Trans folk we have for Gay men. But when you start having to cut off body parts and take hormones and having parts made via plastic surgery – are there no limits at all? Anything goes? I mean, gender reassignment wasn’t possible until hormones could be synthesized and plastic surgery was developed. And as mentioned by the guy who wants his leg cut off, everything people want isn’t necessarily good for them. Who decides what that is? Not me, I’m simply trying to get some answers and say that people who question Beatie’s motives aren’t NECESSARILY narrow minded bigots. Further, no society that ever existed that allowed everything to everybody. More food for thought.

      Apr 15, 2008 at 1:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Glenn or Glenda?
      Glenn or Glenda?

      Dear Phoenix,

      Have you ever heard of a MTF transgendered person who went through the anguish of growing up the wrong sex, the life-changing decision to correct nature’s mistake, undertake the therapy, the time period required of dressing and living as a woman, the hormones, maybe some plastic surgery, only to decide, AFTER all this, to keep her penis so she could father a child, raise it, start referring to herself as “the first woman who fathered a child,” write a book about it, and then go on Oprah? If you have, please let us know who it is.

      Apr 15, 2008 at 7:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Zoe Brain
      Zoe Brain

      “And I won’t bring up the pheromone studies and brain scans and all that stuff because maybe we haven’t found the same kind of objective scientific markers for Trans folk we have for Gay men.”

      Try these:
      Zhou J.-N, Hofman M.A, Gooren L.J, Swaab D.F (1997)
      A Sex Difference in the Human Brain and its Relation to Transsexuality.
      Kruijver F.P.M, Zhou J.-N, Pool C.W., Swaab D.F. (2000)
      Male-to-Female Transsexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus

      We haven’t found “the same kind”, we’ve found far stronger evidence.

      “Radiologists can now confirm what transsexuals report – that they feel “trapped in the wrong body” – on the basis of the activation of the brain when presented with erotic stimuli. There is obviously a biological correlation with the subjective feelings.” – ArzteZeitung

      Full Bench of the Australian Family Court, 2003
      At paragraph [270]: ‘But I am satisfied that the evidence now is inconsistent with the distinction formerly drawn between biological factors, meaning genitals, chromosomes and gonads, and merely “psychological factors”, and on this basis distinguishing between cases of inter-sex (incongruities among biological factors) and transsexualism (incongruities between biology and psychology)’.

      At paragraph [272]: ‘In my view the evidence demonstrates (at least on the balance of probabilities) that the characteristics of transsexuals are as much “biological” as those of people thought of as inter-sex’.

      A woman who has had cancer and has had bilateral mastectomy and a radical hysterectomy is still a woman: and a man who has had bilateral mastectomy and no hysterectomy is still a man. Gender is between the ears, not the legs. As is sexual orientation.

      Apr 15, 2008 at 8:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Zoe Brain
      Zoe Brain

      Glenn or Glenda? – I know of several Gay men who have acted as sperm donors for surrogate mothers, just so they can have children. I know of even more TS women who have done the same pre-op, storing genetic material while they still can.
      Just look on the net, or in the literature, and you will find many cases of men who would have volunteered to carry their own children (to be born by cesarean, obviously). Experiments in animals have shown that this is a possibility, but the religious holy war against surrogacy petered out, so it wasn’t necessary. Twenty years ago, it was a real possibility though.

      Apr 15, 2008 at 9:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Zoe Brain – the limic neuron count looks interesting; I’ll check it out. But erotic stimuli is NOT stronger evidence than pheromones. People can be turned on by anything and everything. Wallowing in feces, being spanked etc. That proves nothing. Pheromones on the other hand such as male sweat have no recognizable smell (See NewScientist.com) but I’m open to new info. Then you seem to contradict yourself with your last paragraph
      “A woman who has had cancer and has had bilateral mastectomy and a radical hysterectomy is still a woman: and a man who has had bilateral mastectomy and no hysterectomy is still a man. Gender is between the ears, not the legs. As is sexual orientation.” the first part refers to physical, concrete things then you say Gender is between the ears.?????

      Apr 16, 2008 at 10:37 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • M Shane
      M Shane

      ADAM, I didn’t read your comment before I placed my own, but your take very much agrees what my own belief is: “Just seeing the way James discusses his “journey” seems disingenuous and somewhat fake. It looks to me like this is nothing more than a calculated public relations initiative on the part of James and his wife to sensationalize exploit a pregnancy and transgendered issues with the selfish purpose of selling a book.”

      What is pretty morose about this is that the for the sake of selling a book, Beatie is willing to compromise and minimize the authenticity of a transgenders feelings of being trapped in the ” wrong body”: if you can just readily switch sex roles for the sake of a book; not even to carry your own baby but someone elses the implication is that your need to be “in ” the body of a male can’t be terribly sincer.

      If I was a transexual I would be enraged that someone would go to such extremes to make my cause theatrical and not authentic.

      As a non tran, I am consequently inclined to doubt the integrity of peoples’ claims to be in the “wrong” body and while I don’t give a particular hoot about if people want to look like kangaroos surgically, I would doubt the
      necessity of it: pretty much like any unnecessary plastic surgery.

      While I am aware of the biological issues for some people as a person who has worked in hospitals doing the surgeries and having almost completed a grauate degree in gender studies, this person’s ficklness leaves me feeling doubtful and bertrayed. One thing for sure, I wouldn’t accept a book for free. A title I would suggest is “How Far We go for Greed”.
      or ” Interesting Ways to look like Santa Claus”.

      Apr 16, 2008 at 5:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Zoe Brain
      Zoe Brain

      Jaroslaw – When I said between the ears, I meant it, literally. The Hypothalamus and limbic nucleus. Physical structures, meausurable at autopsy, and with blood flow patterns visible on dynamic MRI.

      The German studies found two different brain activation patterns, one in the female control group, one in the male control group. TS women’s patterns were well within the female group. Now the study is flawed for other reasons – we don’t know how many in the TS group were lesbian, and the control groups included only straights. But either attraction to men is hard-wired neurologically, or femininity is, or both.

      M.Shane – if you are inclined to doubt the reality of transsexuality, may I ask you a question: Would you feel just as comfortable if someone performed a sex change on you, or would you like it reversed if possible? Even if it meant a 20% chance of becoming anorgasmic, and a cost of $50-100,000?

      The trouble with “Gender Studies” departments, at least in my experience, is that they don’t listen to those who might be expected to know something about Gender, the Intersexed and the Transsexual. Instead, they oppressively deny those narratives as they provide evidence that contradicts their superstitions. That necessitates slandering them, accusing them of greed, mendacity, and insanity, and they don’t even realise they’re doing it.

      Apr 16, 2008 at 9:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • M Shane
      M Shane

      Zoe Brain i don’t know that at any point, I even suggested a doubt of transexuality. i’m not sure what you are reading. i have more experience just livinhg with and around transexuals than most people.
      If you read what I wrote, you might take note that I am not criticizing transexuals at all. On the contrary, my claim is that Beatie is an exhibitionist who does more harm than good to the cause of persons who have stuggled to
      make the aurthenticity of thier subjective experience real. I would suggest that someone who just switches back and forth from one geder role to the other for publicity is more interested in making money than becoming themselves.
      Just because someone is a transexual does not autimatically free them from greed as a primary goal.

      Apr 17, 2008 at 12:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Zoe Brain
      Zoe Brain

      My apologies for so grossly misunderstanding you, and my thanks for your clarification.

      TS people are just people, as you say. There’s Good, Bad, Selfless, Greedy, all sorts.

      I still don’t agree with your reading of the situation ( and I’ve explained my reasoning in post #29 ), but I’m the last to claim that I’m infallible.

      My thanks once more for your cogent and reasonable reply.

      Apr 17, 2008 at 12:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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