Trans dad Kayden Coleman created birth classes classes to help educate the medical community about transmasculine pregnancy and birth.
Expanding visibility for transgender people has long been an uphill battle. But according to Kayden Coleman, advocates are working hard to keep things moving in the right direction for the trans community every day, not just on International Trans Visibility Day.
Kayden, a Black transgender advocate who gave birth to his second daughter last summer, said major strides have been made since he started his transition in 2009. However, he said there is always more to be aware of with respect to trans individuals, especially those who become pregnant.
“When it comes to transmasculine people giving birth, you don't see very much of it,” Kayden said. “It's important for visibility, because we need to be visible in the medical and birthing world so that we can get proper care.”
Kayden said he knows first hand the importance of making sure the visibility of trans men is increased within the medical field. In 2013, shortly after undergoing a mastectomy, also known as top surgery, Kayden discovered he was more than five months pregnant with his first daughter Azaelia.
Unfortunately, like many trans people, Kayden received inadequate care from some of the medical professionals attending to his pregnancy and birth.
“There's way too many horror stories, mine being one, of mistreatment and things that are overlooked when it comes to our care,” Kayden explained. “So it’s important to have birth workers and people in the medical field that are versed on what it is to be trans, what we go through, proper etiquette, things of that nature.”
With that void in the medical field in mind, Kayden started teaching webinars, workshops, and sensitivity training programs that aim to bridge the gap between the trans community and the medical and birthing community.
When it comes to medical professionals who are interested in learning how they can better care for trans people, including parents-to-be, Kayden said the key is continuous self-education.
“They should be educating themselves on transness, etiquette, respect, not assuming, constantly educating themselves on pronouns, body parts,” he said. “It's important to know the effects of testosterone, surgeries, things of that nature, so proper care can be given.”
Of course, the issues facing trans masculine individuals who give birth don’t end when they leave the delivery room. After Kayden publicly documented his second pregnancy in 2020, he was attacked by Georgia political candidate Angela Stanton-King, who used her Instagram platform to harass him for being a trans person who carried his own child.
“Oftentimes it just feels like it’s out of our control, right?” Kayden said. “Because we have these people who are in power, who are so vehemently fighting to keep us from being us. And it doesn't make sense as to why, because it's not like we're hurting anyone. But, we are working on it.”
And Kayden is in fact working on upping trans visibility himself. He currently offers sensitivity training workshops to help businesses and organizations provide an inclusive, safe environment for transgender clientele.
“I talk about being a trans-masculine person, pregnancy, what the experience was like for me,” he said. “I also have a workshop that talks about the differences between being a Black trans masculine person in the birthing world, as opposed to being a white trans-masculine person.”
He also offers one-on one Q&A sessions with trans masculine people who either are currently pregnant or want to carry their own child. You can learn more about Kayden’s workshops and classes here, and browse his apparel collection for trans folk and allies here.
On top of facing barriers to proper medical care, and being harassed for simply having families, trans people across the U.S. are also facing swaths of new anti-trans legislation.
In March, the largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group in the U.S., the Human Rights Campaign announced it was tracking 82 “anti-trans” bills that have been filed at the state level so far this year, breaking the previous annual record of 79 “anti-trans” bills set in December 2020.
The organization said several state legislatures are also actively working on introducing new bills this year that could further impact transgender peoples’ rights, including in South Carolina, Texas, and Michigan.
The HRC’s announcement came after Alabama state lawmakers voted to pass one of the anti-trans bills, making it a felony for medical professionals in Alabama to provide hormonal therapy and other gender-affirming healthcare to trans youth. A few days later, the Governor of Mississippi signed a bill banning young trans athletes from participating in school sports.
However, the Biden Administration’s spokesperson Jen Psaki pointed out that on his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. Biden’s EO overturned the previous administration's ban on the service of transgender individuals in the military, and promised protections for trans people in schools, housing, and places of work.
With the change of Administration, the White House has also set up a new Gender Policy Council, and executive director Jennifer Klein signaled that those state-level anti-trans bills will likely face push-back from the Biden Administration.
Although the world looks significantly different today than it did ten years ago for many trans people, Kayden said it’s important to acknowledge the continued struggles of trans people in states like Alabama and Mississippi, who are currently having their very existence questioned.
“It sucks that there has to even be a conversation around people receiving necessary care, because I know that oftentimes transitioning is a matter of life and death,” Kayden said. “Transition saved my life, and I know a lot of people who feel the same.”
“But hang in there,” he added. “We are trying to do the groundwork on our end.”
Kayden said the trans community has always had to fight for their rights, and while some of those state bills may pass into law, like in Alabama and Mississippi, Kayden said trans youth in those states are not alone.
“There are a lot of us who are fighting for them,” he said. “I can say, we’ve made a lot of strides since a decade ago when I started transitioning, so just keep looking forward to forward motion. Hopefully, we get to a place where our existence isn't constantly questioned.”