EXTREME TRIGGER WARNING
I knew that the journey to parenthood would be challenging, especially as a transgender man. However, I did not expect what I went through. Bringing a life into this world should be a time of joy, but for me, it became a battleground of prejudice, ignorance, and outright cruelty. As a trans man giving birth, I faced abuse on such a scale that it left scars on my soul, scars that no one should have to bear.
The first time I felt the weight of society’s judgment was during my antenatal visits. The glances, the whispered comments, and the blatant stares served as a constant reminder that I was different. That I didn’t belong there. I tried to brush it off, to focus on the incredible life growing within my body but the world around me seemed determined to remind me that I didn’t fit into the conventional narrative of pregnancy and that I was taking up valuable space reserved for anyone but me.
My pregnancy straddled the COVID pandemic and quite quickly, to by intense relief, the rest of my antenatal sessions were online.
I had a great online antenatal educator. They were non-binary and were great at adjusting their language for me. They had warned me of the potential comments and looks. They knew that things would probably be bad. Neither of us knew just how bad.
When the day arrived for me to give birth, I entered the hospital with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Little did I know that the coming hours would become a test of my resilience. The medical staff, who should have been my allies, treated me with a callousness that cut deep. Nurses exchanged looks of disbelief, and outright disgust and I could hear the hushed conversations about the “little freak” that had just walked through the door. I passed them my carefully written birth plan complete with my identity information and was met with a snort of derision. That stung!
The worst part was yet to come. As I laboured through the intensity of childbirth, I overheard the derogatory comments from some of the hospital staff. They called me horrendous names, a paedophile, a rapist, a groomer. They laughed at my situation, and treated me as though I were an object of mockery. Someone even asked if I was birthing through my “dick hole”. It was a surreal experience, one that no human being should endure in what should be a sacred space for the birthing process. I felt myself leaving my body and watching from above.
I wanted to scream, to confront them and demand the respect and dignity that every person deserves. But in that vulnerable state, with the pain of childbirth coursing through my body, I felt defenseless. The laughter echoed in my ears, a cruel soundtrack to one of the most significant moments of my life. I wasn’t able to have anyone with me – Thanks COVID – and so I was at the mercy of these “care” providers from hell.
I may not fit into society’s traditional mould of a pregnant person, but the love, fear, and hope I felt were no different from any other expectant parent. My identity didn’t make me any less deserving of compassion and empathy. I was treated with such contempt that one would struggle to give to even their worst enemy.
As I held my newborn in my arms, the pain of the physical labour was replaced by the emotional wounds inflicted during those harrowing hours in the hospital. I wept silent tears into my baby’s luscious black curly hair as they nuzzled at my bare chest, seeking the milk that was causing my chest to ache and burn. I wanted to feed from my body but was told “Absolutely not!” by the surly midwife and had a bottle of formula shoved at me. I was discharged not 4 hours after giving birth. Bleeding and sore. My baby crying in their carseat. Into the brisk coldness of early evening. Luckily, my mum was waiting for me. She took one look at me and scooped me into her arms as I heaved great sobs into her cardigan.
It has been 3 and a half years and this is the first time I have spoken openly about my experiences.
I wish I could say that my story is unique, that my experience was an anomaly, but sadly, many transgender individuals face discrimination and ignorance in healthcare settings.
My hope is that sharing my story will contribute to a greater understanding of the challenges faced by trans individuals during pivotal life moments. No one should be subjected to ridicule and humiliation when bringing a child into the world.