What do you say about a pregnant man?

For one thing, it's not as unprecedented as you might think.

Published March 26, 2008 10:29PM (EDT)

By now, you have perhaps heard about the pregnant man. To be specific, the transgendered man in Oregon who had reassignment surgery but never changed his reproductive organs, thus allowing him to carry a child. His picture -- trim goatee, swollen bare belly, arm raised to expose a generous thatch of armpit hair -- ran along with his first person essay in the Advocate.

I saw this story Friday, started to write about it, stopped, started again. Ate a cookie. Checked my mail. Started, stopped, you get the idea. Here's what was going on in my mind: Durrrrrrrrr. What do you SAY about this?

The media was agog as well. (Today's breaking news: It's a girl!) However, the wonderfully forward-thinking Annalee Newitz reminds us today that this isn't as unprecedented as it might at first appear: "Back in the late 1990s, Matt Rice got pregnant and had a baby with his male partner Patrick Califia. And of course there have been dudes with uteruses dating back to the early 20th century. If you don't believe me, just read Pagan Kennedy's amazing biography of one such wombtastic guy, 'The First Man-Made Man,' which is about the first transgendered male -- i.e., the first dude who could get pregnant (he didn't choose to do that, but led a pretty damn interesting life).

"Throughout the past century, people have been writing about pregnant men in science fiction. The people in Ursula Le Guin's novel 'Left Hand of Darkness' are, like the aliens in 'Enemy Mine,' all one gender and therefore 'men' can get pregnant. In Marge Piercy's novel 'Woman on the Edge of Time,' everybody grows babies in artificial wombs but both men and women can nurse the infants when they're born. And of course you haven't lived until you've seen Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie 'Junior,' dressed in a peach-colored pregnancy suit and confessing, 'My nipples are so sensitive.'"

OK, I knew about the Arnold Schwarzenegger bit. But frankly, the rest was news to me.

By Sarah Hepola

Sarah Hepola is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, "Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget."

MORE FROM Sarah Hepola

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Broadsheet Love And Sex