Pregnancy delivers start of unfortunate legacy

Published in the Courier Mail on 31 July 2008

TRACY Lagondino grew up in Hawaii with her parents and two brothers and, like many girls I know, enjoyed playing with her brothers and going fishing.

Tragically, when she was just 12 years old, her mother committed suicide. Several years later, Tracy started to experience puberty — a confusing and emotional time for any young girl, but particularly so for one whose mother had taken her own life.

Recounting this time, she remembers, “I started to grow breasts, and it was kind of a shock to me because I didn’t have my mother around. I was just used to catching footballs and balls, and so it hurt. I just kind of thought, `What’s my body going through? Is it betraying me?’ ”

The way she chose to resolve such conflicting emotions had her in the news recently, although she is now called Thomas and is legally identified as a man. While this is not news in itself, it certainly became so when she, as a he, became pregnant.

Much of the commentary has been focused on a “man” being pregnant. However, there has been little discussion on the bigger issue of womanhood and what makes a woman — or a man.

What is incredible in this situation is not that a man was pregnant and gave birth, but that someone we have allowed to be legally identified as male was pregnant.

Women who have to undergo double mastectomies, due to cancer, are strongly reassured that their womanhood is not defined by their breasts. So it seems incongruous that Tracy was able to do little more than remove her breasts and take male hormones, and be legally defined as male. Surely we realise there is a serious disconnect when we allow someone to retain female reproductive organs and become pregnant, and still be legally recognised as a man?

The popular narrative of gender and sexuality favours self-determination. Gender identity disorder is a complex psychological condition. Ethical concerns regarding surgical treatment, or “gender-reassignment”, are discarded in favour of the path of least resistance. No one wants to dare mention that perhaps we may have got it wrong. But what if we have? And what legacy does that leave?

While Tracy’s life was thrown into so much turmoil by her mother’s actions, the child born to Tracy, or Thomas, will have an incredibly difficult set of emotional and social scenarios to work through.

Children are being caught up in the agendas of those who wish to promulgate a new social order, where materialism and self-determination reign. Anonymous donor sperm, leaving children legally fatherless, is one. A woman, now legally defined as a man, yet keeping her female reproductive organs and giving birth is another. Speaking with Oprah in April, Tracy — or Thomas — said: “I feel it’s not a male or female desire to have a child. It’s a human need. I’m a person and I have the right to have a biological child.”

However, children are not a right. They are a responsibility. The moment they become a commodity to “make us happy” or to “claim our rights”, or are treated as the unwanted by-product of sexual freedom, then we become deceived by selfishness. Sadly, the consequences of this will most heavily be carried by the next generation.

Growing up emotionally healthy can be a challenge for anyone. Living in a world where the person who gave birth to you is legally your father adds emotionally laden and complex issues no child should have to navigate through. It seems American society and law has failed this child. Of course, that would never happen in Australia. Would it?

Ruth Limkin