Motherhood is an ambition that has seemed completely inaccessible for me for most of the last 30 years. My recent revelation that motherhood is, in fact, a possibility or an option in my life has been overwhelming.
It’s another item on a list of things that seemed out of reach or impossible prior to transitioning. Now that I am transitioning, it’s a question I get asked with some frequency. “Have you thought about becoming a parent?”
Why was motherhood inaccessible?
I was assigned male at birth. I was told I could be a father, being a mother never really occurred to me until I was finally able to come to terms with the fact that I was a woman. I can’t explain how I felt this way but the idea of being a father has never felt ‘right’ for me. When I thought of it as a child it felt like a continuation of the facade I was presenting to the world. If I couldn’t be a mother, I decided I didn’t want to be a parent.
As puberty sank in, there arose a powerful need to suppress the girl inside of me. As I progressed through puberty and into my teens I honed my character as a man, I became pretty good at pretending to be one, it was like constant improv. A byproduct of successfully creating that character is that I stopped thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. It was impossible for me to imagine myself as a parent, or even an adult because I couldn’t imagine maintaining the secret that I was a girl through adulthood.
Why does motherhood now seem possible?
I’m 30. That means it feels like everyone in my peer group is either having a baby, planning to have a baby, recently had a baby, or declaring their intentions to never reproduce. Also, I’m transitioning, which has improved my quality of life in ways I can barely explain, identify, or fully understand yet.
For example, throughout adolescence and into my 20’s I laboured under the misguided sense that I would die before 30. That morbid view of myself and my potential was triggered by complex feelings of self-hatred. A result of being trans in a world that had no understanding or space for trans people. I was only able to dig myself out of that pit by trying to learn to love the person I could be, rather than the person I was pretending to be.
Learning to love the person I could be meant I needed to have some idea of who I could be so I could try to be that person. So I tried to visualize myself in complete detail 10 years in the future, complete with all relevant, realistic hopes and dreams achieved. The first time I tried this I was 25, and I tried to imagine myself at 35. I broke down and cried, in my head there she was, me, Autumn, with a cat, a loving partner, a decent job in a relevant field, and a reasonable mid-sized sedan, fully paid off. It was that exercise that helped finally cement the need for me to transition. Five years after that, I am Autumn, I have two cats, a loving partner, a decent job in a relevant field, and a 2013 Civic SI four-door that is almost paid off.
So this year when I turned 30 I updated that vision, who do I want to be at 40? One big part of that answer: I want to be a mom.
Why am I overwhelmed?
An expected result of expecting to die for so many years is that one doesn’t really plan for the future. Growing up all my plans ended between 25 and 30 that left no time for a family. So I never considered the possibility. An unexpected result of transition has been the support and affirmation I have received from those in my life. That affirmation, that acceptance has triggered a massive change in mindset for me.
It’s like I have had my life handed back to me. It’s made me wonder, what do I do with that time? That feeling and experience are emotionally heavy things, it is sad and happy, it is overwhelming.
Then come the mechanics of the situation. How does someone like me become a mother?
Genetically reproducing is off the table for me. If it was ever an option for me I think Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has rendered me permanently infertile, an expected side effect. That being said I might never have even been fertile. When I did start HRT I had to get a blood test done to measure my hormones levels prior to HRT. After that test, I was told I had low levels of the hormone responsible for triggering sperm production. While I never actually had a fertility test of some kind done, it is very possible I was never actually capable of reproducing, which was a strange tidbit of information to find out.
Really the simplest answer is adoption. Although that can be expensive running $10,000 to $20,000. It’s a process that I don’t really understand and at the moment feels incredibly overwhelming.
While I don’t think at this moment in my life I am ready to be a mom, that is changing fast. At some point in the near future, I expect it will start to become a priority in my life. I owe a lot to transition, learning to see the potential in my own existence is something I will never take for granted.