Sunday, February 1, 2009

'I'm a man and I'm pregnant. It happens...

Don't you read the fucking tabloids?', says Max - The L Word's resident trans man. Despite what Oprah may think, Thomas Beattie is NOT the only transgender man to become
pregnant. In true soap opera fashion - or perhaps Law and Order's 'ripped from the headlines' approach - this often problematic though strangely addictive
lesbian drama is bringing a pregnant trans man to life through Daniella Sea's occasionally believable performance.
I can only imagine what sort of transphobic crap is going to come out
of other character's mouths over this - not to mention fan sites.
Interesting that people assumed that Tom and Max would only have 'gay sex', and frustrating that people would say they are actually straight for having vag sex. Sounds suspisciously like the 'not a real man' sentiment that exploded over Thomas Beattie's media blitz.

The basic storyline -- Max is a gay man, who has been having unprotected vaginal sex with his boyfriend and now is four months pregnant. Max discovers his pregnancy during a consultation for top surgery. Not only must he postpone surgery, but he's apparently one month into the second trimester and is refused an abortion. Will Max be 'the pregnant man with unrealistic facial hair'? (Stay tuned.)

This scene from Max's visit to a clinic in particularly noteworthy:

Yeah, men do get pregnant sometimes. I've been meaning to write something about Thomas Beattie, about the fact that he isn't the first (or only) pregnant man, about his exploitation of his own pregnancy and process of family formation. It's disappointing that Beattie doesn't seem to acknowledge that there are so many other transgender parents in the world. Because, actually, the fact that the world knows that transgender people have children is a good step in the right direction. Too bad he hasn't leveraged his time speaking into the big media megaphone to provide a bit more justice for all of our families. But, here's the thing - Thomas Beattie isn't an activist for our community, as much as we may wish it so. And maybe it's fine, because the rest of us are doing so much. A little visibility can go a long way.

Upon return from an incredible week at Creating Change in Denver, a few days before a trip to DC for the International Foundation for Gender Education's annual conference, my head is filled with thoughts of social justice and collective liberation, of 501c3 organizations and professional queers. Tonight, though, The L Word gave me more than women making out... lest we forget, the power of pop culture.

NOTE: I drafted this post before my trip to IFGE in DC, where I found myself discussing this episode countless times. My dear friend Ramzi, a scholar in American Studies, is a pop culture junkie and seeing him during my trip further highlighted just how these forms of culture reflect and inform our ability to articulate lived experience.

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