Male pregnancy stories traditionally consist of a man having the wonderful experience of becoming fathers. However, some stories consist of men experiencing pregnancy first hand. While it is biologically impossible for a genetically born male to become pregnant naturally, some circumstances may make the experience a reality for some men.
Male Pregnancy Stories
Two male pregnancy stories stand out because of media exposure: Thomas Beattie and Lee Mingwei.
Thomas Beatie is the more popular, but not necessarily the more controversial story. Beatie was biologically born a female, but he identifies as a man. Since he has the biological make-up necessary to conceive and carry a baby to term, his story about becoming pregnant as a man stirred up some strong reactions. In a Barbara Walters Exclusive: Pregnant Man Expecting Second Child, Beatie shares his story about having a second baby.
Memoir of a Pregnant Man
Beatie shares his story in a book that was released on September 30, 2009. Love Makes a Family: A Memoir of Hardship, Healing and an Extraordinary Pregnancy details Beatie's experience, including his gender reassignment surgery. Beatie's story is one that has created much controversy because some insist that since he was born a biological female, there is no need to bring the issue so much attention.
Lee Mingwei's Project and Pregnancy
Lee Mingwei created what he refers to as an "avant-garde conceptual art project" where he created a website and journal documenting his journey as a pregnant man. During his project, he claimed that he had a placenta implanted in his body. This project, now known as the Male Pregnancy Project, has been showcased in museums, as well as taught in some high school curriculum. He never had a placenta in his body nor was he ever pregnant. Mingwei's purpose was to create a space to discuss the fluidity of gender, the miraculousness of pregnancy, and the bond that a person carrying a child may feel. Despite getting some religious backlash, Mingwei's project served an important purpose and is still considered thought provoking when it comes to the topics of gender, pregnancy, and the human experience.
Mingwei sees the experience as one that teaches great empathy. When he was growing up, he spent many years in a Taiwan Buddhist monastery where he learned to appreciate life's moments. He sees his perception of the male pregnancy experience as one that relates to Buddhist philosophy. Connecting with the world and with others is an important aspect of the philosophy. There are few connections as strong as the bond between a mother and her unborn child. The experience has helped him develop empathy for the women in his life as well as a powerful connection with the baby.
Science of Male Pregnancy
In terms of a biological male being able to carry a child to term, science notes that this may be possible down the line with a uterus transplant and hormone therapy. Because there have been few cases of successful birth through a uterine transplant for biological women, this may open up the doors for trans individuals who were born without a uterus, or those who had a hysterectomy to give birth.
Because gender can be fluid, a person who identifies as a man but was biologically born with a uterus and ovaries has the possibility of becoming pregnant and carrying to term. Beatie and Mingwei helped begin important conversations around gender, trans rights, and the experience of pregnancy.