Few can forget the story of Thomas Beatie, a transgender man who in 2008 made headlines after becoming pregnant through artificial insemination, earning the moniker “The Pregnant Man.” Beatie spoke to a crowd of approximately 60 at Northwestern Saturday evening to discuss his life, LGBT equality and his famous pregnancies.
“Some guys feel man enough to wear pink,” Beatie said. "I felt like I was man enough to be pregnant.”
Beatie, who is one quarter Filipino, decided to become pregnant through artificial insemination because his wife Nancy was infertile. His pregnancy earned him the Guinness title of being the first legally married pregnant man. He has since had two additional children through the same method. Beatie addressed some of the criticisms people have expressed regarding his choice to carry the children himself rather than through a surrogate.
“I don’t know how many parents would use a surrogate if they could get pregnant themselves,” Beatie said. “Not very many, I suspect.”
Beatie also faced heavy backlash after his first pregnancy, especially on the Internet.
“When this all came out, I was blown away by the overwhelming negativity,” Beatie said. “How far do we have to go to navigate through this?”
He added that society seems to have shifted to a more accepting view of his lifestyle since he became pregnant with his first child five years ago. Beatie credits his thick skin and stubbornness for lessening the blow of hurtful language.
Although usually described as the first pregnant man, Beatie acknowledged that he believes that “gender is a state of heart and mind” and many pregnant transgender men have come before him. Beatie said he anticipates pregnant men to become much more common, going as far as to say that “this is going to be the future.” If that is the case, Beatie’s three children already have a strong grasp on what the future has in store.
“People tell me all the time ‘Oh, your kids are going to get teased,’” Beatie said. “But for my children, this is their normal.”
Beatie discussed many of the medical setbacks he faced, including dispassionate medical providers and being erroneously listed as the mother on each of his children’s birth certificates, later amended in court.
Beatie also said he sees the ability to live openly as a transgendered person is one of the biggest obstacles facing the community today.
“Visibility is very important for transgender people. It’s one of the last frontiers of legal and social equality,” Beatie said. “It’s sad to say that in the 21st century, there’s still a segment of people fighting for basic civil rights.”
McCormick sophomore Justin Concepcion said he came to the speech knowing little about Beatie or the many issues affecting the transgender community.
“I never thought about the medical side of the whole issue like facing discrimination in the medical community,” Concepcion said. “It was very enlightening.”
Devin D. Moss, director of the LGBT Resource Center, attended the speech and said he sees figures like Beatie as important representatives of the LGBT community.
“This story was a popular story in the media, but there are so many other stories out there that are very similar,” Moss said. “The more knowledge and awareness that we’re able to spread about the different disparities that are out there, we grow as a community.”
Editor's note, Feb. 24, 10:46 p.m.: A previous version of this story had "Guinness" spelled incorrectly. Thanks to commenter joobly for pointing out the error.