Scout Barbour-Evans is pregnant and will be a dad. Here at The Spinoff Parents they share what it has been like so far.
I am a boy. A pregnant boy. There is a foetus in my uterus.
Yes, that’s possible.
It was a planned pregnancy. I’ve desperately wanted to have a child since I was tiny, and I’ve known it was my calling that long too. I’m finally at a point in my life where it’s actually a sensible move to get on with it – my degree should be complete at the end of next year, the new government is a bit less determined to push young whānau into poverty than the last one was, my jobs and my classes are pēpi and whānau friendly, I’m desperate to get a hysterectomy and move into the next step of my transition… I mean, mostly I just really like the smell of newborn babies.
I will be called Pāpā, even though that’s a name usually reserved for a non-birthing parent. This news does not mean I’ve finished my transition, and it does not mean I’m not a boy anymore. It just means I’m going to birth a baby. And then I might grow my beard out.
Pregnancy is understandably, but frustratingly gendered. I am cared for by a midwife, if home birthing doesn’t work out I’ll be on a maternity ward, every piece of literature about pregnancy calls me a mum, the baby bump is causing even more people to call me ma’am, my child’s birth certificate will call me the mother, and even the legal paperwork calls me “the woman”. Because usually, the majority of people who get pregnant identify as female – and, well, the second question from most people I’ve told about my pregnancy so far has been “but I didn’t think that was possible!”.
Apparently everyone thinks testosterone makes you automatically permanently infertile, which is just not how that works. (If you’re on testosterone and sexually active with a person producing sperm, you can still get pregnant and still need to use condoms!)
But it gets worse. Because I used a sperm donor and the first question everybody has asked, before their disbelief, has been “cool, who’s the dad?” Insert side-eyes emoji here.
“Hey, I have some news! I’m pregnant!”
“Oh cool! Who’s the dad?”
“Me, I’m the dad.”
“Haha no, you know what I mean, the real dad.”
“…..me. I’m the real dad.”
In other words, my pregnancy has become another excuse for the people around me to deny my gender exists in the same breath as they preach acceptance and allyship. Which, frankly, sucks, and I shouldn’t need to say it but it is the total opposite of allyship.
And one of the biggest frustrations has been trying to determine whether I can have a gender marker which isn’t…lying, but still gives me access to pregnancy services like ultrasounds, blood tests, emergency care for my hyperemesis gravidarum, and hospital care if my home birth plans don’t go as scheduled.
I discovered last year when getting iron infusions that you can’t get a special authority on medications if your gender marker (your NHI allows for either male, female or indeterminate) is set at indeterminate because PHARMAC still don’t recognise it. I wanted to change my marker to male then and there so I wasn’t forced into lying but my GP set it to female and then it became a whole thing because I started doing the administrative work to start getting pregnant, and my goodness this shouldn’t be so complicated!
I’m not presently aware of what my NHI gender is marked down as, but I think a triage nurse in ED recently might have set it to male. I can’t remember, I was a little out of it from puking all day. I really wish every single day that when you change your gender marker in one government department, it just changes across the board and doesn’t create barriers to access.
There’s a movement in countries like the United States which aims to make pregnancy-care less gendered and more welcoming for transgender men and non-binary folk with uteruses. In some states or cities it’s helping, but in many situations over there insurance companies deny trans men coverage for smear tests based on gender markers, let alone pregnancy-care.
New Zealand’s heavily imperfect, but I’m actually pretty grateful I won’t get a $100,000 bill for giving birth. I’d love to see more education and awareness for our health professionals who work with transgender people and pregnant people. While I’m enjoying researching and learning as a collaboration alongside my own medical team (this week: can you chest feed while on testosterone?), it would be nice if I weren’t having to do so much work on the medical side myself.
I’m hoping the next pregnant dude in New Zealand won’t need to.
But my doctors and midwife are all incredible and my friends and whānau are too. With their support, despite hyperemesis, at 17 weeks I’ve nearly got all the shopping sorted and have moved onto making! This year I’ll be getting the most marvellous Christmas present of my entire life. My whānau are so excited that my mum sends me links to changing tables or baby baths on TradeMe at 5am…..every, single, morning, and honestly? I really, really just cannot wait.
This is what’s right for me.
I’m gonna be a Pāpā, to what already feels like one of the most well-loved tamariki in the world.
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Scout Barbour-Evans is a takatāpui and transmasculine boy living in Dunedin. In their spare time they’re a student at Otago Polytechnic, or a volunteer for one of several organisations. For the remainder of their time they are working tirelessly to start their little whānau in a safe, futureproofed environment.
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