It would require a grueling series of operations, but transgender women now see hope that they could one day become pregnant — despite having been born biological males — thanks to pioneering uterus transplant surgery.

“I hope it becomes a reality,” said Chastity Bowick, 30, a medical case manager in Worcester, Mass. “I absolutely would be willing to do it.”

Bowick began her gender transition at 19, but she knew she wanted to be a mom long before that. “Ever since I was old enough to understand the concept of parenting, I wanted to be a mother,” she said. “I didn’t know how that would ever happen, but that’s what I wanted.”

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Surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic on Monday introduced the recipient of the nation’s first uterus transplant, performed late last month. The 26-year-old patient, identified only as Lindsey, said she has adopted three boys through foster care but has always dreamed of the opportunity to carry a child. The Cleveland Clinic team plans to do at least nine more transplants as part of a clinical trial.

It is theoretically possible to transplant a uterus into someone who was born male. But the body would need a lot of preparation.

Gender reassignment surgery would be much more involved, for one thing. As with traditional male-to-female surgery, doctors would have to create a vaginal canal. But they would also need to make space for the uterus. That would require widening the pelvic inlet, which is substantially narrower in men.

After all that, the patient would need about a year to heal before undergoing the womb transplant — which in itself is quite an ordeal. The first one performed in the United States took nine hours.

If the transgender woman had stored sperm before transitioning, she could use it to fertilize a donor egg for implantation, so her baby would be genetically related to her. Careful administration of hormones would help the patient sustain her pregnancy, which would require close monitoring.

Any patient with a uterus transplant would also have to take powerful drugs to prevent her body from rejecting the donor organ. (For that reason, the transplants are designed to be temporary; surgeons plan to remove the donated womb after the recipient has carried a pregnancy or two to term.)

The many steps would make an already tough process even more difficult and expensive for transgender women

Bowick is undeterred.

“Being a trans woman is already complicated,” she said.

“And pregnancy would be a beautiful thing — even the morning sickness. I mean, I’m kind of getting that now anyway, from the hormones. And I’m moody,” she laughed. “After all I’ve gone through, I’m up for any challenge.”

That commitment doesn’t surprise psychologist Deborah Simmons, who works with couples on surrogacy and fertility issues from her practice in Minnetonka, Minn.

“If you’re a trans woman, this is a way of completing the dream,” she said. “Looking like a woman, feeling like a woman, and being able to bear a child like a woman. The whole notion of being like anyone else who wants to carry a baby — the opportunity for that is blowing people’s minds, in a good way.”

Bowick said she doesn’t expect bearing a child will make her feel like a more complete woman. “There are biological women who cannot bear children and they’re not lesser women because of it,” she said. She’d already been planning to adopt children and still plans to do so, even if she’s able to bear her own children as well.

Angelica Ross, the chief executive of TransTech Social Enterprises in Chicago, said transgender women may have trouble taking advantage of uterine transplants because many have faced discrimination in the past and, thus, lack the financial resources to pay for multiple surgeries.

“Because of getting fired from job after job, most trans people, especially trans people of color, are barely able to take care of themselves, much less a child,” she said.

Still, Ross said “it’s just an exciting idea” that it’s even theoretically possible now to become pregnant after transitioning to female.

“I love living in an America,” she said, “where someone like me would have a chance to have children.”

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  • Hi to the Cis-women without wombs who are saying “God didn’t intend these abominations to have children” look down at yourself. God didn’t intent for you to have children either.

    People out here acting like male and female are some secret societies. we’ll all bundles of cells with the only difference according to science is one can have children the other gives children. if one ends up doing the other, what else do they need to do to be the other?

  • “So that maybe oneday Transwomen will be able to have children too.” (At least 80% having no fertility issues with their own organs whatever they decide to do with in their sexuality) This fact in the parentheses Literally Begs the question are we, as women, supposed to pay for the fact that they as men Literally Sacrificed their fertility? That’s a great question Eileen Calder, where are they going to get those fresh young wombs? Complete textbook lab rats and mad scientist behavior. That will rise on the ashes of every right known to women. # People Don’t Have Children, WOMEN DO!

    • I believe it doesn’t matter whether you are gay, straight, intersexual, man, woman, feminine or masculine if you have the desire to gestate and bring life forth.
      I am a gay man not seen as feminine, and I’ve always wanted to carry my own children. The fact that advanced technology can make this accessible to anyone is a gift! So that anyone can express their procreative liberty freely.
      It’s likely that both men and women will become accustomed to having a choice on the matter, bringing new possibilities for equality. Male-female couples will have a chance to decide who’s carrying the baby, which in turn might mean freeing women from any kind of imposed obligation to procreate solely by using their own body. Another implication will be that employers will no longer be able to discriminate between male and females candidates for the same job, as either gender could make use of maternal leave during pregnancy and post birth.
      The whole topic seems to be very controversial and shocking for a lot of people, but I think we should allow people the right to gestate, no matter what their biological or perceived gender is.

  • How can I sign up for this I would love to have this done on me so I can be a full woman so I can be happy am in my 40 s

  • We don’t need more children, they are so many in the world in need of a loving home on the face of the earth. ADOPT
    And re-assigned people people have no business having babies, they were never designed to. Now wonen who can’t bear children should get all the assistance possible to have a child, since their system was already in place, they just need a boost. Good luck!!

    • you dont have to be a jerk anyone can have hope…i agree more children need to be adopted but how would you feel if you were in the place of someone transgender and had the chance to make yourself more whole.

    • we are a childless couple who tried for 10 years to adopt some young children through social services (we had not enough money for a private adoption) but they could not find any available, so we never got to have any children. We were very disappointed!!!

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