Jessi Hempel’s brother Evan was born a woman. He came out as transgender 16 years ago but never stopped wanting to have a baby. This spring he gave birth to his first child. Evan’s pregnancy is proof that we live in amazing times.
When Evan first visited an LGBT health centre in Boston, US, Jessi wrote for TIME, it was the first time his doctor had seen a prospective birth 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 fertilisation 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 after Evan gave birth, Jessi drove with her partner to see the newborn. When she arrived, her brother had just finished chest-feeding. Jessi asked her brother whether the process of the pregnancy had changed him at all — in particular, had giving birth made him question 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.”