Source: Sean Adl-Tabatabai
A transgender man from the UK has given birth to a baby with his non-binary partner using sperm from a transgender female.
39-year-old Reuben Sharpe transitioned to a man 12 years ago.
But he always wanted to give birth to a child and six years ago made the decision to stop taking testosterone in order to have a child.
Mirror.co.uk reports: And that dream came true when he and partner Jay had a bouncing baby.
Jay is non-binary – so does not identify as male or female.
The sperm donor was a trans woman… and even the DOCTOR was transgender.
And while a handful of other UK men have fallen pregnant after transitioning from a woman, Reuben and Jay are among the first couples to speak out about their remarkable journey.
Little Jamie arrived three months ago and the family have just enjoyed the best of Christmases.
Beaming with pride, wedding photographer Reuben says: “It’s taken six years to get this far, but now we have a baby in our arms and that was the end goal. I finally feel complete.
“It wasn’t that I was desperate to have the birthing experience or pregnancy experience, but I wanted a child and I had the facility to do it.
“Both of our families love kids. I was so glad my family were as excited about our baby as they were their other grandkids.”
The road to parenthood has certainly been long and winding.
Reuben explains how he began living as a man in 2007 – taking male hormones which left him with a beard, deep voice and masculine features.
But realising he wanted a baby, Reuben spoke to a trusted trans doctor about the possibility of falling pregnant.
He was reassured it was possible as he still had his womb and ovaries.
So he took a break from his testosterone medicine to enable him to undergo fertility treatment.
Reuben met fellow wedding snapper Jay, 28, in a pub and the pair hit it off.
Jay – who is referred to as them or they rather than he or she – has had a double breast removal.
As the couple grew closer, Reuben broached the topic of pregnancy.
He said: “After a few months I started getting nervous, realising I was planning to have a kid – I’d been building towards it for three years to this point. I realised I would have to talk to them.
“If they didn’t want kids we’d have to break up.
“I managed to bring up the subject but luckily Jay was open to the idea.”
Jay adds: “It just seemed right – we wanted to raise kids similarly.”
Reuben faced endless tests on his hormone levels and fertility and at one point a friend offered to carry the baby for him if he was unable to.
Then Reuben got his first break. He explains: “I woke up the next morning and my period had started for the first time in six years.
“It was such a relief. It’s weird, but I knew it was the start of something I wanted so badly.”
Next, Reuben and Jay had to consider who could act as the sperm donor. They Facebooked a contact who is a trans woman but can still produce sperm.
Reuben adds: “I thought they would be perfect.
“Sperm donation is a big decision to make, but when we asked the donor, it felt so right. We sent a message on Facebook to ask.”
Jay and Reuben chose to have IUI, which means the sperm was inserted into Reuben’s womb by a doctor at a private fertility clinic. Three rounds of treatment cost £6,000.
Reuben goes on: “The first round didn’t work. They gave me a fertility injection and I released too many eggs. We couldn’t go through with that attempt as we could have ended up with six children!
“Deflated, we became convinced it wasn’t going to work.
“We tried a second time and the earliest point I could test was on my birthday. We’d been on edge for weeks.
“I did the test, ignored it and went to brush my teeth. Suddenly Jay was shouting me into the room and telling me to look – it was a positive result.”
The pair did five more pregnancy tests to be certain – then celebrated.
The months ahead were a rollercoaster of emotions… joy at their impending birth, discomfort at getting strange looks in hospital waiting rooms and sadness at bigotry from some people unwilling to understand or accept their situation. Jay says: “Sometimes we’d go to appointments and be treated like celebrities.
“It felt uncomfortable and made us sad because it was happening at such important times when we were going to see our baby. Both of us just wanted a normal experience.”
Reuben adds: “I found it frustrating that people didn’t just ask my gender or not use it. I look like a man, have a beard.
“It’s bizarre you wouldn’t just avoid saying ‘she’. People asked very invasive questions about body parts and how I’d give birth. Giving birth isn’t a trans thing. Women give birth in different ways too.”
The pair praised the way they were treated by specially-trained midwives at Brighton’s Royal Sussex County Hospital. And Reuben reveals similar kindness shown by neighbours. He says: “I was really slow to get a bump so some people thought I was just putting on a lot of weight. One sweet old guy we lived near kept telling me I’d eaten all the pies!
“When I told him, he was so overjoyed for us and said he’d get the fireworks out.
“I actually liked my pregnant body and liked being bigger. It was very affirming and I really enjoyed it – I’m a man and I get pregnant. There’s a lot of changes to go through but I felt free of that.
“Women struggle with their bodies when they go through pregnancy too, so it isn’t something a trans man would exclusively feel.”
Reuben was three weeks late giving birth and had even jogged around the block to try to initiate the process.
The night before he was booked in for an induction, his waters broke.
He said: “I was able to have a home labour, we had a birthing pool and I was there for 11 hours.
“We called my dad and he got a taxi at 5am, costing £70, to be my birthing partner.
“I ended up being rushed to hospital for a C-section, which was fine, but the recovery was absolutely terrible. I couldn’t move for five days.”
The couple are confident their family situation will be seen as normal as the baby grows up surrounded by like-minded people in their home town of Brighton. Jay says: “It’s about having the right kind of community around us so they are able to see different kinds of family set-ups.
“All we can do is try to be really open from the start with them and other people around us – give them the best chance.”
And although Reuben carried the baby this time, Jay would be open to doing so in the future. They plan to marry next year and are keen not to be boxed off into mum and dad roles.
Reuben says: “Like with many things, people have got it into their heads ‘this is a female thing, this is a male thing’. Having a child is male, female, everyone.
“Even when people go through that pregnancy experience with their partner, it’s a joint thing.
“Wanting to have a baby doesn’t feel like a female thing for me.
“I don’t think pregnancy is the ultimate female experience, therefore it didn’t challenge me as a man.
“It doesn’t make a woman less of a woman if she’s not keen on pregnancy, infertile, doesn’t want a baby. This isn’t a trans issue – it affects everyone.”