Lois Rogers

Journalist and Communicator

Man gives birth to baby

Society

The Sunday Times Published: 12 February 2012 Lois Rogers

A man who was born as a woman has become Britain’s first “male mother” by giving birth despite his sex change operation.

The man, in his thirties, delivered the child last year after having hormone treatment to reactivate his womb, according to a charity advising him. The womb had not been removed during the original sex change procedure.

Joanna Darrell, of the Beaumont Society which provides help to men who want to or have changed gender, said it had been approached by the man who had requested advice about the practicalities of having a baby after sex change surgery.

He wanted to know what surgery he could have before it would be impossible to carry a baby. He also asked about the possible health implications of retaining his womb.

“He got back in touch about six months ago to thank the society for its help and to say he had had the baby,” Darrell said.

The baby is likely to have been delivered by caesarean section although it is possible the man may have retained the ability to give birth naturally.

Darrell said she believed he was the first British man to have given birth. “As far as we know there is only him, one man in America and one in Spain who have done this,” she told The Sunday Times.

The revelation comes four years after an American transsexual, Thomas Beatie, 38, of Arizona, sparked controversy by announcing he was pregnant.

The subsequent birth of a baby girl made headlines around the world.

Beatie, who had a partial sex change operation but retained all his female reproductive organs, went on to have another two children after hormone treatment to restart menstruation and restore fertility. All were reportedly delivered naturally.

Earlier this month the Create Fertility Centre in Toronto revealed that it was providing hormone treatment for a number of male sex change patients with intact wombs who are hoping to become mothers.

Clifford Librach, the clinic’s medical director, would not confirm how many men are pregnant or when any babies are due to be born, but he has defended his stance in the Canadian media.

“People have this misunderstanding about their [transsexuals’] situation,” he said. “If they have organs from one or the other sex than the one they were born with, it’s really no different from any of the other treatments we do.”

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) refused to say whether it was aware of the British case or reveal how many other inquiries it has received, although a spokesman said it “may” have given advice on the procedure.

The spokesman added that any ethical issues concerning the welfare of a child born to a sex change man would be dealt with by the individual doctors concerned.

The HFEA does not keep any data on female to male transsexuals who have become mothers but a spokesman said that it may start collecting statistics in the future.

Gynaecologists say they are receiving increasing numbers of inquiries as advances in hormone treatment, which have allowed pregnancy and childbirth in previously infertile post-menopausal women, can also be used to treat men who have changed sex from female.

Gedis Grudzinskas, editor of Reproductive Biomedicine Online, said he believed many patients would go to India because ethical scruples would make most British doctors reluctant to help.

However, he added: “I’m sure it has already happened here more than once and people have kept quiet about it. There is no medical reason why you could not use oestrogen to make the womb receptive. You would obtain donor eggs to be fertilised by donor sperm.”

The cancer risk associated with retaining a uterus and ovaries that are exposed to high levels of the male hormone testosterone means that most women changing sex choose to have them removed.

Christopher Inglefield, a surgeon specialising in gender reassignment surgery, said he had seen two such cases in recent years who wanted to have babies.

“The obvious thing is to get them to store eggs before they have the surgery, so they can have babies later using a female surrogate,” he said.

Others expressed dismay at the effect on a child of having a male mother.

 “The fact that the medical profession is facilitating and encouraging this is a serious problem,” said Trevor Stammers, director of medical ethics at St Mary’s University College, London. “You are hardly going to end up with a baby that’s going to have a happy, productive and optimal childhood.”
Written by Lois Rogers