I knew there would be nowhere else I would be today at 4pm than in front of my TV to watch Oprah. Why is today different from all other days? (sorry Oprah, I don’t usually watch ya!)
Today, Oprah did a show on Thomas Beatie, a mixed race transgender man living in Oregon, who is 6 months pregnant, and happily married to Nancy.
Thomas and Nancy wanted to tell their story for themselves, as already their story has taken the media by storm. From Access Hollywood to People and the numerous bloggers who are, sadly, blogging more on the ignorant tip of David Letterman’s not so funny top 10 list, everyone wants to know. And Oprah definitely didn’t hold back from asking incredibly sensitive (well, mostly) questions that Thomas answered with grace.
Thomas’ story hasn’t only taken the media by storm.
While the question on Oprah was, “is the world ready?”, some of us are well aware that, sadly, some folks in transgender communities aren’t ready. Filled with fear, internalized shame, and I’m sure in their own way, genuine concern, there are many on list servs and blogs, that have told Thomas he shouldn’t be speaking publicly. (I’m also unaware if any trans organizations or LGBT organizations have publicly supported Thomas).
I, for one, am incredible grateful to Thomas.
Thomas’ courage to speak about what are often such hidden stories–true desires and yearnings of trans people to have our identities valued, and our physical bodies not being censored, policed and controlled–is so important.
I am saddened to see how sometimes, we can still be our own worst enemy. How we can tear each other down. People want to tear Thomas down, or excuse why Thomas is doing it because Nancy is not able to. None of this should matter. Whether Nancy could have children or not, shouldn’t matter.
Thomas is doing an important service to trans communities by showing our variance, and by showing that, yes, we have more than one story. I say thank you to a story where someone says, no it’s not that I felt I was in the wrong body. It’s that I’m the person, the human being I was always meant to be! I say thank you to a story that says, yes I can be pregnant and feel strong as who I am as a man! I say thank you to a story that isn’t focused on being a victim, and also doesn’t hide the discrimination that is being experienced in this process! I say thank you to a story of people who are genuinely trying to live a full and happy life, and want a family as part of that picture. These are the many stories that make up our communities. And I for one am so thankful that there’s more than one being told, and that there’s this amazing story being syndicated nationally and internationally in such a positive and wonderful way. And that the story is moving beyond how typically young white FTM’s are the voices and stories covered in mainstream media.
Thomas put it so well when he asked all of us to be open and embrace: “the gamut of human possibility.”
Thomas says the desire to have children doesn’t make him feel like less of a man. “I have a very stable male gender identity. I see pregnancy as a process, and it doesn’t define who I am. It’s not a male or female desire to want to have a child…it’s a human desire,” he says. “I’m a person, and I have the right to have my own biological child.”
If I wasn’t moved enough already, I was bowled over when the interview turned to Nancy’s daughters from a previous marriage.
Nancy has two daughters from a previous marriage, Amber and Jen. Amber says she thinks Thomas and Nancy have a great marriage. “They’re an incredible couple,” she says. “They’re very much in love and they’ve been role models for my husband and I. We definitely look up to their marriage and model our lives after theirs.”
When Jen heard Thomas was pregnant, she says she was very excited. “There probably was a little bit of jealousy going on thinking that this little girl’s going to have such a great life with Thomas and my mom,” she says.
Although she’s excited to have another sister, Amber is also nervous about how people will react to Thomas’s pregnancy. “It’s a little scary,” she says. “We’re scared for them because I don’t know that the world is all that prepared, but we’re just regular, boring people and a regular family.”
Thank you Thomas, for giving me, and I have no doubt many people, the courage to also see ourselves, and give ourselves, the permission to live in our lives, our bodies, and our communities with as much honesty and integrity to how we want to build our families, and our tomorrows, as you have shown in this time.
I, for one, support you. Kol Hakavod!