Celebrating lasting love: Transgender fathers’ close relationships with their children.pink

Jessi Hempel’s brother Evan was assigned female at birth. He came out as transgender 16 years ago but never stopped wanting to have a child. This spring, he gave birth to his first baby. Evan’s pregnancy is proof that we live in amazing times. When Evan first visited an LGBT health center in Boston, US, Jessi wrote for TIME, it was the first time his doctor had seen a prospective pregnant father.

Evan, 35, came out as transgender at the age of 19. He underwent hormone treatment but kept his female reproductive organs, including his breasts, just in case he wanted to breastfeed (or chest-feed – a term trans men have adopted for nursing) his own child someday. Three years ago, he and his female partner decided that the time was right.

Evan stopped taking his testosterone shots, and his doctor began to attempt fertilization through artificial insemination. Last spring, Evan finally gave birth to a baby boy.

Pregnancy, even when intended, can be a difficult time for many trans men. The necessity of stopping hormone treatments and the renewed imposition of their female biology led to identity confusion and depression in one of Evan’s good friends who is also transgender.

Evan, however, said that his experience was almost entirely positive. “It was a gamble. I didn’t know how I’d feel,” said Evan. “But it turns out I just feel like it’s really cool that my body can do this.”

Six days following Evan’s childbirth, Jessi drove to visit the newborn with her partner. Upon arrival, her brother had just completed breastfeeding. Jessi inquired if the experience of pregnancy had brought any changes in him, particularly whether the act of giving birth had prompted reflections on his masculinity.

“People who are not trans talk about being ‘trapped in a body,’” replied Evan. “But that’s not really the way my friends talk about it. I was always Evan. I always had these parts. I always just felt like me, and like I was a guy.”

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