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Originally published Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Transgender pregnancy raises a host of issues

A transgender man in Bend, Ore., claims he is five months' pregnant in a case that would stretch the meaning of the 21st-century family...

The Oregonian

A transgender man in Bend, Ore., claims he is five months' pregnant in a case that would stretch the meaning of the 21st-century family and the limits of personal pronouns.

But what sounds like science fiction or tabloid hype may be more a matter of semantics, hormones and personal choice.

The reported parent-to-be was born female but identifies as a man, he writes in his first-person account posted this week by The Advocate, a national gay publication. He legally changed his name to Thomas Beatie and married a woman named Nancy. Beatie declined to answer questions, citing an exclusive contract with another media outlet.

About 10 years ago, Beatie had breast-removal surgery and started male hormones, he writes, but kept the uterus and female genitals. After moving from Hawaii to Bend, the couple decided two years ago to have a child.

Nancy couldn't carry the child because she had had a hysterectomy. So Beatie stopped testosterone injections, and menstrual periods returned within four months. He says he conceived through artificial insemination at home with sperm bought from a sperm bank and that he didn't take fertility drugs.

Doctors said the case, while exceptional, is believable.

"Biologically, that all sounds plausible," said Dr. Mark Nichols, medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/Willamette and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).

Beatie's daughter is due around July 3, he writes in the "First Person" feature in the April 8 edition of The Advocate. It was released online this week and picked up on national television. A phone call to The Advocate asking how details about the account were verified wasn't returned.

"To Nancy, I am her husband carrying our child," he writes. "I will be my daughter's father, and Nancy will be her mother. We will be a family."

Many transgender men opt not to have radical reconstructive surgery because it can cost tens of thousands of dollars and offers imperfect results, Nichols said. Instead, they choose hormonal treatment or declare themselves men and ask to be referred to by a different pronoun.

"I don't doubt that there are other cases" of transgender men having babies, said Dr. Paula Amato, a reproductive endocrinologist at OHSU.

The most troubling aspect of the case, she said, was Beatie's allegation that some doctors refused to treat him.

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"Our situation sparks legal, political and social unknowns," Beatie writes. "We have only begun experiencing opposition from people who are upset by our situation," including friends and relatives.

Beatie runs a custom screen-printing business in Bend that specializes in embroidered T-shirts. A "closed" sign hung in the window Tuesday.

Near the Beaties' tidy two-story Craftsman-style home, neighbors Timothy and Janet Boland were surprised by the news that Thomas Beatie was pregnant. The retired couple said they had gotten to know the Beaties over the last year and a half through neighborhood parties.

"They've always been very friendly," Timothy Boland said.

"We like them," Janet Boland added.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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