Giving birth can be a beautiful and intense experience, so it’s no wonder many people decide to record it in some way. More and more parents are hiring a birth photographer and sharing their photos on Facebook and Instagram for the whole world to see.
But it’s still very rare to see the experience that new parents Eli and Stephen recently shared: that of a pregnant trans man giving birth. Shared originally on the @restore_midwifery Instagram page and reposted by the @empoweredbirthproject, this photo series is truly awe-inspiring. Click through the gallery below to see Eli’s labour progressing. (We’ll warn you that these photos do contain nudity; it is a birth, after all.)
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🌿 @restore_midwifery shares: – – – – – – “Last weekend I had the pleasure of accompanying my clients Eli and Stephen during the birth of their daughter. Eli decided to generously share these photos and words with the world so that other queer and trans folks can learn and potentially be inspired by his experience. Eli writes: “Giving birth was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also the most miraculous. I found pregnancy surprisingly gender affirming – it allowed me to embrace the full spectrum of my identity and to create life. I feel lucky to be trans and amazed at what my body can accomplish. I’m proud to be a birth father and in love with my new daughter.” __ #trans #transpregnancy #transbirth #queer #queerpregnancy #lgbtqfamily #queerfamily #midwiferycare #empoweredbirthproject
Incredible, right? In the caption, Eli and Stephen’s midwife, Marea Goodman, writes that her clients wanted to share the photos in order to help other queer and trans couples learn about trans pregnancy and birth and to hopefully inspire those who might consider it as an option for starting a family.
The way we talk about motherhood is deeply alienatingGoodman’s caption also included a quote from Eli about his experience: “Giving birth was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also the most miraculous. I found pregnancy surprisingly gender affirming—it allowed me to embrace the full spectrum of my identity and to create life,” he wrote. “I feel lucky to be trans and amazed at what my body can accomplish. I’m proud to be a birth father and in love with my new daughter.” *tear*
Unsurprisingly, there were plenty of commenters with a lot of transphobic things to say about the photos. Many of them wrote that they were confused about how, exactly, a person who looks like a man could gestate a baby and give birth. Others said Eli was the one who must be confused for identifying as a man, yet keeping his female reproductive organs and wanting to get pregnant in the first place. Luckily, there were also plenty of people who clapped back in support of this awesome couple, reminding the hateful commenters that gender does not equal genitals and that Eli still gave birth as a man, even if he has a vagina and a uterus.
Anyways, we give major props to this couple for their willingness to share these powerful photos of their family. You and your beautiful new daughter are beyond inspiring.
UPDATE: The original posts had been deleted from Instagram, so here’s an updated post from @empoweredbirthproject. Tap through the post to see the pregnancy photos mentioned above.
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This photo series by @restore_midwifery caused quite a discussion on this page recently before I removed the post at the family’s request. (They only wanted one of the photos removed, but in slideshow format that is not possible so the whole thing had to come down. It was also censored by IG and restored twice before that… it was a whirlwind.) __ It prompted many people to say that not moderating or turning off the comment section was harmful to the trans/queer community. For the record: I was in communication with the family via @restore_midwifery the entire time the post was on this page. The family indicated they were okay with the comments continuing for a number of reasons, so I allowed them to play out. As long as they were okay, that was my primary concern. __ Historically, I’ve felt it important to allow this platform to remain an open forum for public dialogue. Oftentimes, much of the education that has advanced these conversations and influenced public opinion plays out in comment sections. There’s also a lot of positivity out there and folks who genuinely want to learn. __ That said, the argument of protecting marginalized folks from harm is also valid. Many comments/users are easy to identify as hateful and bigoted. The rest can be a delicate balance to strike— allowing discourse vs. selectively censoring the overall response. __ I’ve taken both approaches over the years with mixed reaction from this community. What do you think about this particular case of the family allowing open commentary vs. other readers feeling unsafe? __ For the record, I personally and as a project/platform absolutely do NOT condone transphobia, hatred, bigotry, or violence. I will continue to share even more content centering communities who need better representation in the birth community. And when needed, reiterate that mission and stay open to feedback. __ At the end of the day, this dialogue IS the purpose. Again, thank you @restore_midwifery and your precious clients for being vulnerable and visible. __ Love, @katievigos