Biological Clocks and Biological Gender: Trans Women and the Dream of Pregnancy

Advances in assisted reproductive technology (ART) mean that uterus transplants may one day be an option for cis women. Belle Boggs writes in Guernicaexploring what this possibility — no matter how remote or unaccessible — means for trans women who want to be mothers.

For some trans women, like Blessing, this technology—however nascent—is tantalizing, a medical innovation they believe could one day help them achieve their own dreams of pregnancy. Kimball Sargent, a North Carolina-based therapist who specializes in gender identity, says this is a common interest among her trans patients. Many of her trans women patients feel as Blessing does—they long not only for children but also the bodily experience of pregnancy. “If you have a female brain, and estrogen, a female hormone, that probably influences your desire for pregnancy,” Sargent says. “Some of my clients have been surprised by how powerful the feeling of loss was, when they realized they can’t carry a baby. That’s exactly the feeling infertile women go through.”

She notes that many of her patients experience jealousy when their partners become pregnant, as well as deep frustration with the limits of their transition. “Some think, ‘I’m not a real woman because I can’t carry a pregnancy,’” Sargent says. She remembers seeing a gender-variant four-year-old, genetically male, pretend to give birth to a doll. “She put the doll under her shirt and said, ‘Look, I’m pregnant. I have a baby in my belly.’ She took the baby out, wiped it, and rocked it back and forth. It’s very instinctive.”

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