It sounds like something that might have been published by the late, lamented Weekly World News, but apparently it's for real: A Bend man is pregnant.
Thomas Beatie tells his story in The Advocate, a national gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgendered publication. According to his account, he was born female but underwent hormone treatments and surgery to become a man, is legally recognized as a man and is legally married to his wife, Nancy. The couple dreamed of having a child, Beatie writes, but Nancy had undergone a hysterectomy many years ago.
Having retained his female reproductive organs when he changed sex, however, Beatie himself was able to conceive by artificial insemination. On the first attempt the result was an entopic pregnancy - one in which the embryo implants in a Fallopian tube instead of in the uterus - but the second try was successful, Beatie writes, and "we are proud to announce that this pregnancy is free of complications and our baby girl has a clean bill of health. We are happily awaiting her birth, with an estimated due date of July 3, 2008."
Portland's KPTV News, Oregon Public Broadcasting and The Oregonian all have reported on Beatie's story in the past couple of days. The Oregonian quoted Dr. Mark Nichols, medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/Willamette and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University, as saying the story is "plausible," medically speaking.
A spokesperson for Cascade Healthcare Community, the parent company of St. Charles Medical Center, told The EYE the hospital couldn't provide any information about the case. "We've taken a position to not really speak on this in terms of generalities, because it's a very specific and unique case and it's quite obvious as to what we'd be referring to," she said.
Not surprisingly, the Beaties have had to struggle with prejudice on the part of neighbors and health care professionals, according to Thomas Beatie.
"This whole process, from trying to get pregnant to being pregnant, has been a challenge for us," he writes. "The first doctor we approached was a reproductive endocrinologist. He was shocked by our situation and told me to shave my facial hair. After a $300 consultation, he reluctantly performed my initial checkups. He then required us to see the clinic's psychologist to see if we were fit to bring a child into this world and consulted with the ethics board of his hospital. A few months and a couple thousand dollars later, he told us that he would no longer treat us, saying he and his staff felt uncomfortable working with 'someone like me.'
"In total, nine different doctors have been involved. This is why it took over one year to get access to a cryogenic sperm bank to purchase anonymous donor vials, and why Nancy and I eventually resorted to home insemination."
Beatie says he is happy and confident about being pregnant and about the anticipated birth: "How does it feel to be a pregnant man? Incredible. Despite the fact that my belly is growing with a new life inside me, I am stable and confident being the man that I am. ... To Nancy, I am her husband carrying our child - I am so lucky to have such a loving, supportive wife. I will be my daughter's father, and Nancy will be her mother. We will be a family."
But he realizes that more challenges lie ahead for him, his wife and their child: "Outside the local medical community, people don't know I'm five months' pregnant. But our situation ultimately will ask everyone to embrace the gamut of human possibility and to define for themselves what is normal."