It is one of the hardest things about transitioning gender for me – so many years of my life spent on-hold, hoping to meet someone, dreading what sex would be like with the wrong genitals and desperately wanting to be able to express the part of me that needs to be a mother.
Very soon into transition – as I came to terms with the reality of surrendering my ability to become the parent of a child that would truly be my hypothetical partner’s and mine – I just couldn’t reconcile transition and infertility because they are two things entwined intimately and irrevocably in who I am [a male-to-female trans woman].
I did something about it at almost the last possible moment, and delayed starting to take hormones for a few weeks so I could have the opportunity to bank sperm in the hope I’d get to use it one day.
I was the first woman to approach the Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health [Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh] in this way, and they were unsure how to deal with my request at first. An ethics meeting was convened and it resulted in my being told I’d be helped. With hindsight I’m glad it was done that way, because it set a precedent for others who might wish to do as I did.
It wasn’t easy. Getting at the sperm was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Everything you hear about sperm donation is true, the room, people knowing what you are doing in there, even the magazines in a closed box (morbid curiosity made me look). And I had to do it twice because my sperm count was low. But it’s done and that last little bit of what my genitals can do for me is safe in a freezer until I need it – and I really hope that one day I will.
My current situation is one of quiet desperation, hoping that I’ll get surgery sometime soon, that I’ll finally be able to cope with the idea of a physical relationship, and desperately hoping I’ll meet the right girl.
Yes, it was all worth it, the delays, the stress of waiting, the dysphoric experience of getting the stuff out, and all the interaction I had with others who knew why I was there. Because whilst I’ll never be able to carry and deliver a child, I can still be a parent, and still be a mother.
Gender-reassignment is a flawed process in which we try to make compromises between what is possible and reality. For me, this was something I had to do *because* I’m a woman, not because I wanted to preserve something of being seen as male.
I knew, however difficult it seemed, it was something I had to do to be comfortable with the rest of my transition. That probably sounds odd. It’s not though, I just have the urge to have children and that was the only way I could balance that need with the need to transition.
My GP did all the referrals and stuff. A lovely nurse at the Simpson Centre (Edinburgh) made it as easy as she could for me. And the doctors and consultants who decided to help me made it all possible.
If you’re at all not sure about how you will feel in the future, preserve your potential for parenthood now. No one is going to force you to use it if you don’t want to.