Fertility and pregnancy

British man gives birth

British man gives birth He was formerly a woman

A sex change man has become the first in Britain to give birth, it was revealed last night.

While the unnamed ‘male Mum’ began life as a woman, he underwent gender change surgery. And he is believed to have given birth to a baby boy last year, becoming one of only four men to have given birth worldwide and the first in the UK.

The man is said to be in his 30s, from the west Midlands and in a long-term relationship.

Details of the case were revealed by the Beaumont Society, the UK self-help body for cross-gender and transsexual people. Its spokesperson Joanna Darrell said the man had had the child around six months ago.

He had approached the society for advice about having a baby and was referred to the specialist Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES), a Surrey-based organisation that provides education and support for the trans-gender community.

Ms Darrell said the man later got back in touch to thank her for her help: "He came for some information and I referred him to GIRES. He got back in touch and said he had had the baby."

She added that the case was “unique” here: "In the two years that I have been a member of the society this is the only one that I have been able to refer on. As far as we know there is only him."

But she said: "I'm not able to pass on any of his personal details out of respect to his and his son's privacy."

It comes four years after American Thomas Beatie became the world’s first pregnant man after a hysterectomy left his wife unable to conceive.

The 38-year-old from Arizona, born a woman, gave birth to a healthy daughter in 2008, making headlines worldwide. He went on to have two more children, both boys.

In 2010 Californian Scott Moore followed suit, and six weeks ago 24-year-old Israeli Yuval Topper was reported to have had a baby boy.

Medical experts said that if the womb is not removed during sex change surgery, there is no reason that a woman who chooses to become a man cannot physically become pregnant and have a baby.

The female reproductive system can be reactivated using treatment with hormones and it is likely that he delivered the child via Caesarean section – although a natural birth remains a possibility.

There are several ways in which a sex-change man may become pregnant, including using and producing his own eggs, having sex with a man and giving birth naturally, as well as using donor eggs and sperm or undergoing IVF.

Allan Pacey, a male fertility expert from Sheffield University, said: "This may seem quite complicated, but it’s actually fairly simple biology depending on exactly what surgery was performed and whose eggs and sperm were used."

Harley Street fertility specialist Gedis Grudzinskas said the techniques are little different from those, which help post-menopausal women, have babies.

He added that other babies might have already been born this way in Britain.

‘This is the first time someone has stuck his head above the parapet but it wouldn’t surprise me if it has happened before. There is no reason why this particular individual would be the only one to consider it.”

The case has sparked some controversy, however, with medical ethics experts calling for an inquiry into the issues surrounding transgender births.

Trevor Stammers, director of medical ethics at St Mary's University College, London, said: "You are hardly going to end up with a baby that's going to have a happy, productive and optimal childhood."

Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: "We have to sit up and consider these things.

"I don't think it is in the interests of the child to distort nature this way. We are prepared to do anything possible to fulfil the rights of the adult. "But I think it is at the expense and rights and welfare of the child."

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said it "may" have given advice on the procedure.

The spokesman added that any ethical issues surrounding the welfare of a child born to a sex change man would be dealt with by the doctors concerned.

This article was published on Mon 13 February 2012

Image © Wendy Kaveney - Fotolia.com

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