In 1969, before my time, an ad campaign for the Family Planning Association caused quite a stir by using an image of a supposedly pregnant man.
“Would you be more careful if it was you that got pregnant?” it challenged the nation’s men.
Saatchi & Saatchi, the agency that dreamed up the idea, was so proud of it that it opened The Pregnant Man pub in its London office where it continues to this day.
Life first overtook art in 2007 when American Thomas Beatie, born a girl but living as a male, became the world’s first “pregnant man”, and now it has done so again with the news that 20-year-old Hayden Cross, from Gloucester, is Britain’s first.
Hayden was born Paige but, with NHS help, started the transition to male three years ago via hormone treatment.
He asked for his eggs to be frozen so he could have a child with a “steady” partner at a later date, but the NHS refused him the £4,000 treatment.
So, unable to pay for it himself, he stopped taking the transition hormones, found an anonymous sperm donor on Facebook and used a syringe to do the deed which, remarkably considering he had been taking male hormones, was successful at the first attempt.
Yet far from being thrilled at this outcome, Hayden admits he feels uncomfortable being pregnant because “it is a very female thing to carry a baby and it goes against everything I feel in my body.”
Depressingly, he blames the cash-strapped NHS for this state of affairs, saying its refusal to freeze his eggs pressurised him to have a baby now as “a single dad who is trans”.
Hayden doesn’t feel comfortable being pregnant as it’s a ‘female’ thing
Good parents come in all shapes and sizes and whether they’re straight, gay or trans is irrelevant.
What depresses me about Hayden’s story is that he appears to be viewing parenthood solely through the prism of his own wants and needs with seemingly little thought for those of his unborn child.
He’s very young, he’s midway through a state-funded, expensive transitioning process which has now had to be delayed, freely admits he doesn’t really want a baby now, hates what it’s doing to his body and emotions, is unemployed and living on state benefits and hasn’t the faintest clue who the father is or what his medical history is.
Challenging circumstances to say the least.
But Hayden thought he might one day yearn for his own biological bay-bee and it was now or never – so wilfully went ahead.
Sod the potential consequences for the child and, of course, the state that will inevitably have to pay for it.
Straight, gay or trans – there’s no God-given right to have a biological child and, each year, hundreds of people in far more emotionally and financially stable circumstances than Hayden discover that they can’t.
Some reconcile themselves to childlessness, some research alternatives such as surrogacy or adoption for the future.
Given that pregnancy “goes against everything I feel in my body,” perhaps Hayden should have done the same.