And so for most of my life I dressed like a man, wore my hair like a man, and cultivated traits that most would consider manly. This was never a strategic decision or something I imposed on myself—it was always just the natural, organic way I preferred to be. Later, when I was an adult, I learned there were things I could do to make my body look more like a man's body. This does not mean that I was unhappy with my body the way it was. It only means that I found a way to make the outside catch up with the inside. I began taking doses of testosterone to build muscle mass, and I worked out strenuously to shape my body even more. The testosterone also gave me facial hair, and before long I looked completely and utterly masculine. I then went one step further, and had surgery to remove my breasts. Before the surgery I used to walk with a stoop to try and hide my breasts. But afterwards I stood tall and straight, and I walked with a newfound purpose and confidence. I was finally the person I wanted to be, and believed I was all along.
As I said, making these changes did not mean that I was miserable or confused before I made them. They were instead convenient ways to strengthen my image of myself, and to make it easier for me to adapt in a world that strictly defines gender. There were two further steps I could have taken, and chose not to: the surgical removal of my female reproductive organs, and the surgical construction of a penis. But I didn't feel that either step was necessary for me to feel any more like a man. The latter surgery, in particular, is a grisly, drastic and difficult procedure, and most people who transition from female to male elect not to have it.
But there's another reason I kept my reproductive organs. The other driving impulse in my life, besides the certainty that I am male, has been the desire to create what I lacked in my childhood—a loving and nurturing family. Nancy, the woman I fell in love with—and married as soon as I was legally classified as a male after my surgery—had had a hysterectomy when she was younger, after having two children of her own, and could not carry another child. I had always wanted to have a biological child, and so I kept my reproductive organs, figuring that I could have a surrogate use my eggs to conceive.
Yet when the time finally felt right for Nancy and I to have a baby, we thought long and hard about how to go about it, and the idea that we would use a surrogate mother started to make less sense. After all, I was fully capable of having a child myself. Getting pregnant had never been part of my plan, or even in keeping with how I lived my life as a man, but it was still biologically possible and thus an option we had to consider. After careful consideration—and after a lot of discussion about the hardship it might cause—we decided that no surrogate could ever care for her body during the pregnancy of our child as diligently and with as much love as I would. And besides, why would I ever pass along the privilege and responsibility of having my child to someone else, when I could, and should, carry the baby myself? I am not saying it was an easy decision—it was not. But in the end, the concerns we had about people not understanding or supporting our decision were not enough reason to farm out the pregnancy to a surrogate. Nancy and I decided that I would carry our child, and that she would breast-feed the baby. I would be the father, and Nancy would be the mother.