Thomas Beatie is having a kid. Yeah, he identifies as a man, but he was born female. Surprising to me, I always heard that testosterone therapy makes your reproductive bits shrivel and die. Nevertheless, this miracle of modern science and post-modern gender roles is happening, and there are some people who aren’t happy about it. There are also some people who are happy about it, but for what I see to be the wrong reasons.

The Advocate was the (evidently) first media outlet to report the story. The article linked above was written by Beatie. Robert Haaland’s response to Beatie’s story was interesting to me — and seemed to miss the point. Even Haaland interchanges the words “male” and “man.” Haaland is a trans activist — but why is he interchanging the terms for sex and gender? Guys, seriously: I explain this to newbies to the transgender cause every day, but they usually catch on the first time. Sex is biological. Gender is a social construction. You can’t go around interchanging sex and gender identifiers willy-nilly. That’s what the mainstream expects to see. The truth of the matter is much more complex; if we’re not ready to step in and take responsibility for correctly portraying that complexity in the media, then who will?

To me, Beatie is, perhaps unwittingly, a post-gender early adopter. I say this because he’s not letting the gender binary get in his way, even “after” his “transition,” which has included a legal sex change to male. While this sort of thing definitely rings of old-guard transgender practice, and while I’d be more comfortable if my driver’s license said “M” instead of “F,” Beatie’s childbearing desire is as post-gender as it gets.

You see, if childbearing is a job assigned to women as a gender, Beatie, who has been taking on a man’s role in our gendered society is really beautifully synthesizing both Western man and Western woman. I don’t think Beatie is afraid of the implications of this — and the fact that even members of the transgender population have found this repulsive or aberrant is evidence to me of our unwillingness to undo the bindings of gender.

While this obviously wouldn’t be possible without modern medicine, I don’t think that this biological play is unnatural. The way childbirth takes place in industrialized societies in general is a boon of modern medicine, and it saves lives. Birthing children the “natural” way is pretty rough on both the kid and the parents, increasing the potential for death during or after labor for the baby and the birth parent. Playing god is what technology does best. It’s not magic, it’s science. That’s really not the ultimate question here, though.

Congratulations to the Beaties! Even if post-gender is not Thomas’s stated philosophy of gender identity, he sure is living it out. I think that, to the horror of the naysayers, that post-gender is the future. It is the future of feminism and it is the future of society. It’s the only way to gender equality. Right on.

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