Adventures in Transgender Fertility
Good op-ed piece in the New York Times Opinion section, about life with a transgender partner and plans for building their family. A recent study on fertility preservation in the transgender community revealed that a majority of young people decline opportunities to preserve their fertility even when counseled with their options. This choice seems to be rooted in a variety of issues, including shifting attitudes in culture about having children at all. Not surprisingly, studies also indicate that that choice often shifts with age.
The ambiguity makes sense given that most young people – transgender or not – have a hard time considering what life with or without children will really look like when they are in their 30’s or 40’s. It’s a lot to ask a transgender young person to be able to decide something that monumental for their future with so little life experience under their belt. Considering how age affects fertility, the choice to preserve that fertility before transitioning becomes much weightier for trans teens.
It’s unrealistic to expect trans teenagers or even young trans adults to know whether they want to have their own children. They are eager to start transitioning, a momentous, all-consuming next step in their lives, meant to relieve what has been a painful fact of life. Making the choice at the same time to preserve their fertility seems to demand foresight beyond their years. But it’s for this reason we need to give them that foresight, in a nonjudgmental yet forthright way. Counseling is a great first step, but it’s not enough: in an ideal world, the trans community, and the L.G.B.T. community more broadly, would be as comfortable discussing babies as it is discussing gender identity itself.