Transgender Couples: Changing the Face of Family

The face of family is changing, and includes several transgender couples.

ByABC News
November 13, 2008, 5:03 PM

Nov. 14, 2008— -- Is Thomas Beatie the first legal pregnant man? That's a question that can't be answered with absolute certainty.

Stephanie Brill, director of Maia Midwifery & Preconception Services and founder of Gender Spectrum, told ABC's Barbara Walters that Beatie was "by no means" the first pregnant man.

"He is the first man to go public with his pregnancy on such a widespread level," Brill said.

For more of Beatie's story, watch for a documentary airing this coming week on the Discovery Health Channel.

But how does one define who is a pregnant man? For one thing, there is a bewildering array of requirements for legally changing sex and these vary from state to state, making it difficult to say who is legally male and who isn't.

Also, the few transgender men who have become pregnant do not make their pregnancies public, so it's unclear how many have gotten pregnant before Beatie, and whether they were legally male at the time of their pregnancy.

The Village Voice reported on one pregnant man several years ago. Matt Rice, a female-to-male transsexual, conceived using artificial insemination and gave birth to a baby boy in 1999.

And then there is the case of Daniel Burghammer. Christened and raised as male, Burghammer became a blacksmith, husband and Italian soldier more than 400 years ago. But in 1601, he scandalized his regiment when he gave birth to a baby girl.

According to biologist Anne Fausto-Sterling, who discussed this story in her book, "Sexing the Body," Burghammer was a hermaphrodite, meaning he had both male and female reproductive organs. That made his pregnancy, and even breastfeeding, possible.

Brill, who is also a midwife and founder of the educational group Gender Spectrum, first delivered the baby of a transgender man more than eight years ago. She now knows of as many as 40 men who have gotten pregnant. In the coming years, Brill expects that number to rise significantly.

"Most transgender men will choose another path to parenthood, but some will choose this path," Brill said.

According to Brill, Beatie's case is significant because of what it says about dramatic societal shifts now under way.