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30 September 2016

A short history of male pregnancy

This is a convoluted tale consisting of three strands:

1. Doctors attempting to establish whether a cis man or trans woman could get pregnant with an ectopic pregnancy. The theory for how to do this was in place by 1985, but if any such pregnancy has been brought to term, it is not known to the public

2. Frauds and performance by cis men.

3. Trans men have quietly, and then less quietly, been getting pregnant all along, often with no aid at all from doctors.


John Fubbister from the Orkney Isles was part of a Hudson’s Bay expedition that canoed 1800 miles up river arriving at Pembina Post on the Red River (in the future North Dakota) for Christmas. There Fubbister gave birth and was outed. AKA Isobel Gunn: EN.Wikipedia


Nochmen Tenenbaum (born 1911) army sergeant, Warsaw, gave birth in 1936. GVWW

Early 1960s

David Kirby of Oxford University transplanted mouse embryos into the testes of male mice. See Teresi & McAuliffe, 1985.


Cecil Jacobsen of George Washington University Medical School transplanted a fertilized baboon egg into the abdomen of a male baboon. The embryo attached itself to the omentum (which hangs in front of the intestines). The embryo developed healthily, but was aborted after four months. This was done without external hormones. The embryo produced the hormones that it needed. However the results were never published. See Teresi & McAuliffe, 1985. See also EN.Wikipedia and book and film about Jacobsen. Jacobsen was a pioneer in amniocentesis, but later in life was convicted of using his own sperm in in vitro conceptions.


Leo Wollman flew up to Toronto for the release of Dianna Boileau's autobiography. He rather dominated the event and predicted that transsexual women would be able to become pregnant within 10 years. This never came to pass.


  • Novel: John Varley. The Ophiuchi Hotline. Dial, 1971. A science fiction novel set the future when alien technology enables persons to change sex and be fertile. Men become women to have a child, and then switch back. EN.Wikipedia


  • Film: L'Événement le plus important depuis que l'homme a marché sur la Lune/ Niente di grave, suo marito è incinto/ A Slightly Pregnant Man, with Jacques Demy (dir), Marcello Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve. France, Italy 92 mins 1973. IMDB EN.Wikipedia . A driving instructor becomes pregnant, and hormones in chickens are deemed to be the reason. He becomes a model for paternity clothing.


  • Film: Rabbit Test, Joan Rivers (dir), with Billy Crystal, Roddy McDowell. US 84 mins 1978. IMDB EN.Wikipedia. A comedy about a sexually inexperienced man who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a daughter.


Margaret Martin, a NZ cis woman, then 29 gave birth to a healthy girl in May, eight months after her hysterectomy, thereby establishing that ectopic [outside the womb] pregnancies were safe and feasible. Her gynaecologist, Peter Jackson told journalists that this proved that pregnant men were therefore possible. See Teresi & McAuliffe, 1985.


Six trans women requested admission to the in vitro fertilization clinic at Queen Victoria Medical Centre, Melbourne. Their request was turned down. See Teresi & McAuliffe, 1985.


  • Dick Teresi & Kathleen McAuliffe. “Male pregnancy”. Omni, December 1985, 8: 50-56 and 118. PDF Influential and inspiring article that summarized the work done to date. Afterwards Teresi got Bob Guccione, founder of Omni and Penthouse to put up $500,000 for Jacobsen to arrange a male pregnancy, but they then considered the mortality rates and dropped the idea.

Early 1990s

Trans man, Oleg (born 196?) Moscow: Four months into term his sperm-donor died suddenly of a leukaemia-related blood disorder. Oleg’s doctor feared that the baby would also be sick, and convinced him to have an abortion. Before they could try again, his wife died of a congenital heart defect. Oleg was considering getting pregnant again, as a way of honouring his wife’s memory. Discussed in David Tuller. Cracks in the Iron Closet: Travels in Gay & Lesbian Russia. Faber & Faber 1996: 161-4.


Edwin Bayron, 32, Phillipines, a midwife, claimed to be hermaphroditic and six-months pregnant. He was able to fake the results of an ultrasound scan and two urine tests, such that the chief gynaecologist at the Bukidnon provincial hospital supported the claim. However this was a deceit resulting from his wish to marry his boyfriend. News article.

Intersex Karl Holzer, living as male, 31, Frankfurt, Germany, gave birth to boy in June. Weekly World News.


  • Film: Junior, Ivan Reitman (dir), with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito. US 109 mins 1994. As part of fertility research, a male scientist agrees to become pregnant. IMDB EN.Wikipedia Based on the theory in the 1985 Omni article. 


  • Sam Dylan More. "The Pregnant Man - An Oxymoron". Journal of Gender Studies. 7, 3, 1998: 319-328. This article studies nine German trans men who have been pregnant, and found that they had to engage in significant identity and body work to mitigate the impact of societal pregnancy scripts. 


Matt Rice (born 1964) San Francisco, twice a lover of Pat(rick) Califia. Pat had undergone a hysterectomy some years before, but Matt had stopped taking testosterone because of related migraines. With the aid of sperm donated sexually by three male friends, Matt became pregnant, and as a bearded man attended birthing classes. Meanwhile Califia started transition. The son, Blake (born 1999), is autistic, and Matt is raising him alone. 2000 article by Califia in Village Voice

Lee Mingwei Taiwanese man in New York who exhibited his pregnancy. ”Curiously, the Web site has been up since 1999, and Mr. Lee is apparently still pregnant! Either the poor man has been in labor for nearly a decade (talk about a rough delivery!), or the story is a fake. Of course, Mr. Lee doesn't exist; the Web site is a hoax created as performance art by an artist named Virgil Wong.”



  • Meryl Rothstein . "Male Pregnancy: A Dangerous Proposition". Popular Science, 07.31.2005. Online.


  • Film: Jules Rosskam (dir). Transparent. US 61 Mins 2006. A documentary about 19 trans men who have been pregnant and are now raising the child. IMDB


Thomas Beatie, (born 1974, completed top-surgery transition 2002, married 2003) Arizona, with an infertile wife, became pregnant via donated sperm and a syringe. He wrote an article for The Advocate about the experience, and was profiled in The Washington Post. He became a media sensation, and did an hour-long interview on Oprah. He gave birth to a daughter June 2008, a son June 2009 and a second son July 2010. Mr & Mrs Beatie were divorced in 2012-4 in a case that tested legal definitions of gender. EN.Wikipedia Not the first pregnant man, but the first publicised.

  • Film: Pregnant Man, Elizabeth Mcdonald (dir), with Thomas Beatie. US TV 2008. IMDB 


  • J Wallace. “The Manly Art of Pregnancy”. In Kate Bornstein & S Bear Bergman (eds). Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation. Seal Press, 2010: 188-194.


Yuval Topper (born 1988), Israel, top-surgery 2009, gave birth to a son in December 2011. Gay Star News. And a daughter in 2014. Jews News 

Trevor MacDonald (born 1985) Manitoba, top surgery in early 20s, gave birth to a boy in 2011, and a second child in 2014. He was helped by La Leche League Canada, the breastfeeding support group. He applied to be a LLLC coach but was rejected as he does not regard himself as a mother. However LLLC set up an internal review and a year later expunged gendered language from its requirements. He founded in 2012 "Birthing and Breast or Chestfeeding Trans People and Allies which has 1700 members, and in 2014 formed a research team with funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research . The Star   EN.Wikipedia 



AJ Kearns (born 1974) Melbourne, started transitioned at age 35. His wife had birth complications with their first child, so AJ postponed transition to give birth to their second child in 2012. The couple have since separated. Daily Mail


Kayden Coleman (born 1985) Philadelphia, and his husband gave birth to a daughter in 2013. NY Daily News
  • Damien W. Riggs. “Transgender men’s self-representations of bearing children post-transition”. In F. Green. & M. Friedman. (eds.) Chasing rainbows, Demeter Press, 2013. PDF


  • Alexis D Light, Juno Obedin-Maliver, Jae M Sevelius, Jennifer L Kerns. “Transgender men who experienced pregnancy after female-to-male gender transitioning”. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 124, 6, Dec 2014: 1120-7. Abstract News article


  • Eve Shapiri. Gender Circuits: Bodies and Identities in a Technological Age. Routledge, 2015: 236-242.
  • Television: “From Daddy’s Tummy” Janine Cohen (dir), with AJ Kearn. Australian Story. AU ABC 30 mins 2015. IMDB


Even Hempel (born 1981) US, gave birth to a boy in Spring 2016. People

Henry Steinn, (born 1997) Iceland, gave birth to a baby girl April 2016. Pink News 

Fernando Machado , Ecuador, pregnant by his trans wife, gave birth in June 2016. Daily Mail

Rafi Daugherty (born 1983) Denver, gave birth to a daughter. JTA
  • Trevor MacDonald. Where's the Mother? Stories from a Transgender Dad. Trans Canada Press, 2016.
EN.Wikipedia(male)     EN.Wikipedia(transgender)

There is also a book The Pregnant Man by Roberto Zapperi, Harwood, 1991, translated and revised into English by Brian Williams (original Uomo incinto, Cosenza, 1979). This book is not listed in Amazon. It is not about attempts or success of pregnancy in life, but in folklore and in psychoanalysis. It appears that he is totally ignorant of queer studies, but cites Freud, Ferenczi and Devereux instead as the latest research.


So is a pregnant trans parent a mother or a father? Trans women with children are divided: some insist that they are mothers to their children, while others talk of their duties as a father, and allow their children to call them ‘Dad’. However trans women parents are, almost all, parents before transition. The trans men whom we list above had done most of transition before they became pregnant.

There are three factors:

1. Fathers impregnate, mothers gestate.

2. Mothers produce a single or a small number of DNA units surrounded by protein (eggs); fathers produce a large number of motile DNA units without protein and which cannot divide, but have a tail (sperm). Fish species of the Syngnathidae family, of which the best known is the seahorse, are said to exhibit male pregnancy. So why do we not regard the gestating parent as a mother? It is because it produces sperm, and receives eggs from the other sex.

3. Gender identity.

Obviously (1) and (2) would make a pregnant trans man a mother, however the current social construction is that (3) trumps (1) and (2). A valuable tenet of second-wave feminism was that gender is a social construction, and that received gender roles should be deconstructed. The more advanced position is that sex, as well as gender, is socially constructed. Male pregnancy is a step further and challenges the historical cultural baggage that we inherited along with the basic biology of making babies. The queering of everyday life continues.

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