Gender

Despite Hurdles, Trans Dads Celebrate Pregnancy

If you passed Owen Miller on the street, at first, nothing might stand out.


“I'm fortunate. I'm a smaller guy, a smaller build, and I'm carrying all in the front. It actually looks like I have a beer belly," he says, laughing. “We're coming out of winter, too, so I get away with wearing big sweaters and heavy clothes."

Beneath that big sweater, Owen, a transgender man, is seven months pregnant with his first child, a baby girl that he and his husband, Blue Montana, are eager to welcome into their lives.

Owen, 31, first met Blue, who is also transgender, 12 years ago on social media. The two dated on and off, until Owen moved out West. They settled in Las Vegas and married just over a year ago.

The two men always dreamed of kids, but identifying as trans — female to male — they never expected their journey to fatherhood to look like this.

“If you had talked to me a year ago, I never would have thought pregnancy was something I wanted to do or was possible," Owen says.

Like most LGBT people, they assumed that adoption would be their surest path to fatherhood.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be able to happen like this," Blue says. “We planned on fostering to adopt — and we're still considering that for the future. But I always wanted my own family and my own kids."

Blue, 41, first dreamed of becoming a parent in 2006. He had just left the Marines after 13 years and decided to transition because “every time I looked in the mirror, it shattered my heart." That was also the year he became the guardian to his newborn niece. Holding her, only hours after her delivery, made him believe in having his own, biological children someday.

But that's not all that motivates the couple. “It's about authenticity," Blue says. “We want to teach our daughter that she can do whatever she wants in life. It would be hypocritical if we taught that and not tried to do it ourselves. It's OK and valid for trans people to choose pregnancy. It's not abnormal; it's just a different opportunity at having a family."

Blue (left) and Owen

While online and in their local LGBT community, where they are both activists, Blue and Owen received much support, they also experienced a fair amount of pushback.

“We don't hide the fact that we are pregnant," Blue says. “And a lot of resistance came from the trans community. They asked, 'Why did you even bother to transition?' and 'What kind of men get pregnant?' This was a personal decision that we have to live with. Don't judge someone else's personal choice just because it's not for you."

Says Owen, straight to the point: “Society just isn't ready yet to accept pregnant men."

The two men experienced that firsthand with their own families. Both weathered tough relationships with their families after coming out — Blue with his father, Owen with his mother. Neither family was completely willing to accept them as trans men, let alone two men married to each other. But the pregnancy has offered Blue and Owen a slight bridge back to their families.

“It took my mother about 10 years to come around and start talking to me again after I came out," Owen says. “But after the first ultrasound, she's been really excited. This is her first grandkid. She still sees us as a 'straight' couple in her head. And I say, she can do whatever she wants. Whatever makes it easier for her."

Blue's father, who is in his 70s, doesn't see Owen as transgender and also views them as a 'straight' couple. The two men admit that they chafe a little at being boxed in. As activists in their Las Vegas community, they know how important identity is. But Blue wants his daughter to know her grandfather, and he accepts that “there are other battles to fight."

The men were considering adoption when Owen, who was taking injectable testosterone, began using a lower, “maintenance" dose. As they were exploring becoming foster parents, Owen started menstruating again. A friend offered to be their sperm donor, wishing to remain anonymous and letting both Owen and Blue be the only dads in their child's life. To their joy and surprise, Owen's later pregnancy test showed that miraculous plus sign.

“When we first found out, I wanted to buy more tests," Blue says, laughing. “I wanted to go buy the whole store's worth of pregnancy tests."

Afterward came doctor visits, hearing the heartbeat for the first time—and now, only a few short weeks away from the delivery date, the two dads are anxious to bring young Finley home. The opportunity, even after seven months of pregnancy, still seems surreal.

“They're letting us take a baby home," Blue says, true awe in his voice. “Like, who lets us do that?"

Read "Real Men Give Birth"

And "Paths to Gay Fatherhood: The Trans Dads"

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Study Finds Two-Thirds of Gay Dads Experienced Stigma in Last Year

The study also found that over half of gay dads have avoided certain social situations in the last year for fear of experiencing stigma.

According to new research by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the vast majority of gay men and their children experience some form of stigma. The findings are based on a survey of 732 gay father across 47 states in the United States.

More gay men are becoming fathers each year, and have more options for doing so than ever before: including adoption, foster care, and surrogacy. However as the study's authors write: "Despite legal, medical, and social advances, gay fathers and their children continue to experience stigma and avoid situations because of fear of stigma. Increasing evidence reveals that stigma is associated with reduced well-being of children and adults, including psychiatric symptoms and suicidality"

Almost two-thirds of respondents, or 63.5%, reported experiencing stigma based on being a gay father within the last year. Over half, or 51.2%, said they have avoided situations for fear of stigma, in the past year. Importantly, the study found that fathers living in states with more legal protections for LGBTQ people and families experienced fewer barriers and stigma. Most experiences of stigma (almost 35%) occurred, unsurprisingly, in a religious environment. But another quarter of gay dads said they experienced stigma from a wide variety of other sources, including: family members, neighbors, waiters, service providers, and salespeople

Surprisingly (or perhaps not?) another source of stigma cited by the study originates from other gay men. "Gay men report suspicion and criticism for their decision to be parents from gay friends who have not chosen parenthood." The study also says gay dads often feel "isolation in their parental role."

The study concludes, "Despite growing acceptance of parenting by same-gender adults, barriers and stigma persist. States' legal and social protections for lesbian and gay individuals and families appear to be effective in reducing experiences of stigma for gay fathers."

Read the whole study here.

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Fitness guru Shaun T. and his husband Scott Blokker are the first gay dads to be featured on the cover of Parents Magazine

I literally never thought I'd see the day. Literally.

Gay fathers on the cover of Parents Magazine! Gay fathers being celebrated in a "main stream" publication about being parents. Gay fathers!

I don't want to get overly dramatic here, but this is a milestone. A massive cultural milestone.

Sure, gay dads have come a long way in being accepted in our popular culture, but to my eye we've never been on the cover of a big popular parenting magazine celebrating our parenting skills. As if we are the norm.

We are now - thanks to Parents Magazine.

This is a particular milestone for me because I have a bit of a history with the magazine and with parenting publications in general. My first job out of grad school was in brand marketing at Johnson's Baby Products where I did indeed run advertising in this particular magazine. Back then though we only featured married, straight couples. There were no other kinds of parents to feature back in the day! And if I'm to be really honest, they were generally white, married, straight couples.

I distinctly remember one photo shoot where I forgot to put a wedding ring on the "husband's" finger and we had to reshoot it. No photoshop back then!

Now admittedly this was before I was a dad and before I was out, but as the years went by and I embraced my own journey as a gay dad, there were no role models or pop culture markers to say that I (and other gay dads) were accepted. There were no Andy Cohens publicly making baby announcements. We were alone on our parenting.

It was hard. There was a constant barrage of straight parenting norms that constantly reminded us that we were different.
Not any more! Being a gay dad, or any dad, is now simply being a parent. A good parent. A loving parent. And we have Parents Magazine to thank for the reminder and endorsement, with hopefully more to come.

And I can't help but think, and actually know, that this kind of normalization will inspire the next generation of gay dads who will simply accept, without hesitation, that fatherhood as a gay man is a real, accepted, and normal option.

Bravo!

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