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Wednesday 30 September 2020

big egg

Money diaries: Adam

We can be squeamish about the cash involved in fertility treatments. So in this series, we’re lifting the lid on costs – financial and emotional. In part one, Adam, a trans man, details his experience of getting pregnant

It took years to get to the point of deciding to have a baby. As a trans man taking testosterone, first I had to figure out whether I could actually do it, and whether it was safe or not. It’s not something that doctors know about. Sometimes it’s not even something doctors want to talk about or acknowledge – the fact that trans men get pregnant.

There’s lots of “should” as well as “how” when Queer people are thinking about having families. You’ve got internalised shame and doubts about whether you should, and whether you’re allowed to. For me, it basically came down to an emotional decision and going with my gut. But I was aware that whatever route I chose, it would be expensive. Adoption would have cost roughly the same and surrogacy is a lot more expensive.

I didn’t have fertility issues, I just needed help, which I think is quite an important distinction to make when it comes to LGBT families – often we don’t have any fertility issues. Lots of us chose known donors and go “DIY” but I didn’t have that option. I could have bought sperm and done it at home, but that might have cost more money because it would be less likely to work.

I started by finding a clinic: I went for the one that had an introductory discount. For me, the longest part of the process was waiting for my cycle to return after coming off testosterone. I know LGBT people who have been in this process for five years or more, but I was pregnant a year after stopping testosterone – it was really straightforward.

I didn’t have savings or anything at the time. I was helped by the fact that I was housesitting for relatives and only paying bills. I was young and didn’t have any responsibilities or a mortgage or a car, so other than about £250 a month for student loans I could use all my disposable income for treatment. I didn’t have to take out any loans or use my credit card. And when the first round of treatment didn’t work my family stepped in and helped with the second.

The clinic was always very respectful – I don’t think I was the first trans man they had treated. I was never misgendered. Private clinics are usually quite smart, and I got this feeling that I was definitely a customer as opposed to a patient. I think that worked in my favour in terms of being transgender, because I was treated as if I was paying to be there. And I was.

Afterwards, I felt very lucky to have such a straightforward experience getting pregnant. At the time, I felt daunted, and in disbelief that it was actually happening. Even though everyone was friendly and respectful, it’s still a bizarre experience. If you don’t do tonnes of your own research into the assisted conception process you can come out the whole thing not really understanding what’s just happened.

Being a pregnant trans man in this country is very hard. It’s very isolating. In most places there’s zero awareness or zero inclusive language. At the clinic they usually had gender neutral forms, but in my experience there’s nothing that’s gender neutral in the NHS. You’re relying on luck as to whether you get a midwife and team who treat you with respect. It’s quite stressful.

My life has changed completely since having a child. I knew what I was getting myself into and I knew it was what I wanted. But I definitely didn’t understand what people meant when they said “everything will change”.

Names have been changed. As told to Claudia Williams.

Read our second money diary: Leyla

Read our third money diary: Ruth

Read our fourth money diary: Anya

 

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