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Transgender man sues fertility clinic for not helping him to get pregnant

January 13, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
Andy Inkster, a transgender man, is suing Baystate Reproductive Medicine in Springhurst, Mass., because it refused to help Inkster get pregnant using donor sperm and in vitro fertilization a few years back.

According to an op ed piece in The New York Times, which can be found at—r=0, Inkster objected to being asked to provide a statement from a therapist that Inkster was psychologically stable and ready to become a parent. Baystate apparently did not require the same thing of other patients. The state's civil rights agency found probable cause that Baystate had discriminated against Inkster. Now the two sides are moving into a "conciliation conference.

Inkster, who began taking testosterone and had breast removal surgery done at age 18, had always wanted to be a parent and still has ovaries and a uterus. Eventually, Inkster found a clinic willing to do the treatment. Inkster conceived a daughter using anonymous donor sperm and gave birth. The Times suggested that it might be disconcerting for people to see a seemingly pregnant man, though Inkster, who just contacted me, said no one was ever disconcerted.

The Times reports that, under Obamacare, it will no longer be legal to discriminate against people who are transgender when it comes to medical care. But will that also include fertility treatments?

The Times piece quotes a study done last year in Belgium that said that a little more than half of transgender men in Belgium wanted to become parents and 38 percent of them would have frozen their eggs if the technology had been available to them. However, there have been many stories in recent years about transgender children, some as young as toddlers, whose parents have allowed them to live as the opposite sex and have arranged for them to receive hormone therapy at very young ages so they never go through puberty. The treatment is supposed to make it easier for them to pass physically as the gender they identify with and make a sex change operation less complicated when they reach 18. But the treatment also destroys their fertility and any chance they have of becoming biological parents.

Inkster is still a biological female and gave birth and is actually the girl's biological mother. Her biological father is a sperm donor. While I don't necessarily object to psychologically healthy trangender, gay or straight people becoming parents in unconventional ways, I also don't know that I want taxpayers to foot the bill. And, given the huge number of transgender people who want to become biological parents, I think that parents and doctors should rethink practices that expose pre-pubescent children to hormonal treatments that will sterilize them before they are mature enough to fully understand what has been done to their bodies. That sort of treatment comes dangerously close to medical child abuse.

What do you think of Inkster's lawsuit?


Inkster has emailed me with some concerns about this piece and I have made some corrections accordingly. Inkster points out that Baystate Reproductive Medicine is located in Springfield, Mass., not Amherst.

Inkster also says it is inappropriate to speculate on what the child calls him and, on second thought, I agree that this was an unfair comment. The Times opinion column did note in general that a male transgender who has a child and had breasts removed as Inkster did might be unable to nurse and that some people might find it disconcerting to see a seemingly pregnant male. There was nothing said about how people reacted during Inkster's particular pregnancy.

Inkster also said in his email to me that toddlers are never given hormone therapy. This is true and the original comment in the blog may have been misleading. I was referring to stories about toddlers who identify as transgender and whose parents are allowing them to live as the opposite gender. In such cases, hormonal therapy generally begins before puberty.

My general opinion on this situation remains the same.

Update Two

Inkster further states in an e-mail that he is not aware of any provision under Obamacare that would require that fertility treatment be covered. His particular case didn't have anything to do with requiring insurance companies to pay for such fertility treatment, nor did I say it did. The New York Times op-ed did mention the general difficulties that transgender men and women have had getting medical treatment because of their unique circumstances and the options they might have for becoming parents.

I think the main argument against requiring insurance to cover fertility treatment is that it will drive up health care costs and that it is an optional, rather than a necessary, medical procedure. But I do think there's a real possibility that at some point in the future the law might require that such treatments be covered.


Article Comments



Jan-21-14 1:25 PM

I was just thinking that if the roles of gender were not so strictly defined by our society, there may not be a struggle of gender assignment in some cases. As far as a transgender person becoming pregnant, we have no right to judge their need to procreate. God gave them that ablility and they didn't remove it themselves so they are still following God's plan to procreate.


Jan-15-14 9:55 AM

Letting them decide is precisely what I would probably advocate doing in this situation, along with making sure they know that not all girls have to like pink or wear dresses or play with dolls or love babies, etc. for them to be girls and not all boys have to play sports or act tough in order to be a boy. There's too much pigeon holing of kids into stereotypical gender roles, beginning with the pink Disney princess clothes that most girls wear from infancy on.

There's a doctor in Toronto who treats kids with some of these issues who does use this approach. There was an article about him in a Canadian magazine last year. One mother had a girl who wanted to be a boy. The doctor advised the mom to find the girl friends she could relate to, so the mom signed her up for a hockey team and also encouraged her to think it's OK for women to be "tomboys." The girl no longer says she wants to be a boy. This doctor isn't particularly popular with the transgender movement.


Jan-15-14 2:10 AM

So,now we should brainwash kids into thinking they are gay? How about waiting until they are mature enough to decide


Jan-14-14 8:34 PM

The editor in charge determines whether a comment should be removed. I cannot physically remove comments. I have no problem with lively debate or people who disagree with me or others, but I do draw the line at attacks on other posters or foul language, among other things. Those are the comments that are most likely to make me hit the report abuse button.


Jan-14-14 6:56 PM

There is the occasional physical disability that makes it hard to determine whether a child is a girl or a boy and there are genuine hermaphrodites born with organs for both sexes. I think there is enough that we don't yet know about the brain that could explain transgender behavior. Some of these people may well have an unseen birth defect that gives a biological female a male brain and a biological male a female brain. But some of it is undoubtedly due to psychological problems. I would guess that some of these very little kids who are being raised as the opposite gender are actually gay and might be served better by encouraging them to be comfortable as the gender they were born.


Jan-14-14 4:36 PM

No gender identity is simple: if you have a penis you are a male, if you have a vagina you are a female, there isn't that simple, except for the nuts who believe otherwise


Jan-14-14 12:06 PM

vulnerable or the victom card i say the victom card


Jan-14-14 10:58 AM

in my opinion about 95 % of behavior like this is just a cry for attention. and the best action for people like this is not to give it to them.


Jan-14-14 10:03 AM

Jack, you can also ask the editor directly if you questions about why he deleted a certain comment. I don't know why. When I do hit the report abuse button, it's usually only if someone is using foul language or has made a personal attack against another poster. But even then it's up to the editor whether he deletes the comment or not.


Jan-14-14 10:00 AM

Those are also among the reasons why I think there's a possibility that insurance companies might at some point be required to pay for fertility treatment for transgender people. If it is considered a medical disability -- i.e., a male brain in a body that is biologically female -- and insurance companies are ever required to pay for the unique treatments for transgenders such as sex change operations, then fertility treatment to help such a person become a biological parent might be a reasonable extension of that right. I would argue that those requirements would drive up costs. There also are ethical considerations, particularly when we're talking about minors. There seem to be cases where people have hormone treatments or a sex change operation and bitterly regret it, because of the loss of fertility or because they later realize they didn't want to do such a thing after all.


Jan-14-14 9:53 AM

Just in general, people who are different in any way are vulnerable to being harassed or abused. Gay and transgender teenagers also have higher suicide rates and are more apt to be bullied. I don't know if that's the case with Inkster. I don't imagine human nature has changed much in 400 or 500 years. Some of the victims of the Salem witch trials were people who were disliked in the community or had property that someone else wanted or were considered a little too odd.


Jan-14-14 9:42 AM

So you are saying the human in the article is vulnerable? To what and whom?


Jan-14-14 9:31 AM

No, I did not ask him to remove the particular comment you're referring to. Anyone who reads the blog or news stories has the ability to click the "report abuse" button if they think a comment is offensive and that will lead the editors to look at the comment and decide if they think it should be removed. They also read the comments themselves. Editors make the decision to remove comments, not me.


Jan-14-14 8:56 AM

Yes, most of the victims in the Salem witch trials were women and children who were vulnerable in some way.


Jan-14-14 8:36 AM

As a matter of fact a couple hundred years ago he would have probably been burned on the stake for being a witch.


Jan-14-14 8:13 AM

I don't have the ability to delete comments. The editor makes those decisions.


Jan-14-14 7:31 AM

WEIRD: Because Normal Isn't Working


Jan-14-14 7:21 AM

To say the least I'm sure a pregnant man would get some looks.


Jan-13-14 5:56 PM

i hope nobody actualy wastes time on this case


Jan-13-14 4:22 PM

Actually, I referred to Inkster throughout and used "he" in the headline. Gender identity is complex and people like this usually do feel that something went awry and they are in the wrong gendered body. I imagine Inkster, born female, believes his/her brain is actually male. It may have something to do with exposure to hormones in the womb. If it's a birth defect like any other, providing treatment is appropriate. It may even be appropriate to help these people have children as Inkster did, since there is no real alternative if they want biological children. But I do question whether the taxpayer should be required to pay for it.


Jan-13-14 3:55 PM

And this is exactly what comes out of relationships that are termed legal by the liberal left..

You see Andrea you reap what you sow..

Thats what happens when people start to act like *****s, gays and idiots.. You get cross bred dignbats who will go on the Government dole for life..

More*******people are showing up everyday in this country..


Jan-13-14 1:28 PM

Why do you keep referring to Andy as "he"? Anyone who believes that they are the opposite sex is just a nutjob, no more sane than anyone who thinks they are Napoleon.


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