Organ transplants have a long history and as surgical technologies and skills have developed, the list of organs able to be transplanted has grown accordingly. But one procedure still seemingly beyond the reach of modern surgery is the uterus transplant, although recent news reports suggest that the first successful human womb transplant could take place within two years (BBC News). It’s unclear how long after then that such procedures would be available to recipients.
The news reports also say that such transplants are likely to be temporary, to avoid the patient having to take immunosuppressant drugs for life, in order to avoid rejection of the womb. But a woman recipient might be given two to three years to conceive and carry a baby or babies before the womb was removed (Times Online). The report adds that, in order to become pregnant, recipients would have to undergo in vitro fertilisation treatment. Birth would be by Caesarean section.
Being both transsexual and infertile, this news resonates with me in ways I find hard to verbalise. I would have loved to have had children when I was younger, but I wanted to be a mother, not a father. That option wasn’t available to me then, so I let the opportunity to be a parent pass me by. And if the option was, somehow, available to me now by means of a uterus transplant – leaving aside the questions of (a) whether my testosterone-damaged biology would permit it; (b) whether my age and health would mitigate against it and (c) whether I’d even be at the front of the queue anyway (an estimated 15,000 women of childbearing age in Britain were born without a uterus or had it damaged or removed after illnesses [Times Online]) – I have to ask myself whether I would actually want it. Or be able to afford it.
Plus, of course, y’know… I mean, can you imagine the public outcry there would be if a trans woman received a uterus transplant? Even if all the other conditions were to be met, against such long odds. Pregnant (trans) woman is pregnant? When you remember the media circus around Thomas Beattie, and the trend towards linking enforced sterilisation to the issuing of legal documentation, and all the other bullshit oppression and violence we face on a daily basis, well, the cissexist idea of trans women “stealing cis women’s uteruses” (as has been so charmingly put by certain would-be feminist cis women) seems little more than a dream.
“They’re like huge seed pods!”
– Becky Driscoll, Invasion of the Body Snatchers
I need some music. Something loud and bouncy and improbable.