Bennett Kaspar-Williams and Malik Kaspar-Williams became first-time parents in 2020.
This is an adapted excerpt from “Not Another Parenthood Guide,” a limited-edition book from Coterie’s Becoming Parents campaign, with 100% of sales going to BabyQuest.
The book has personal stories from the Coterie community about their paths to parenthood.
Before I transitioned at 30, I had a significant amount of adult experience as outwardly female. I was super genderqueer, but an outwardly female-identifying person. As a not yet self-realized trans person, I never connected to womanhood or motherhood or stories of that sort of thing, because they always felt attached to a gender that I didn’t identify with.
As I went through my gender evolution in terms of how I understood myself, I started thinking more and more about my body and what it does less in terms of gender and more in terms of function.
One thing that my body can do is carry a baby. And then I started thinking about all the cisgender men who are with other cisgender men who can’t carry children, and how lucky that makes me. I think about all the trans women who were assigned male at birth, who can’t carry children, and how lucky that makes me.
I can both experience my transness and be part of having a child in this way. I realized, “Oh, this is actually really kind of radical and very cool.”
I didn’t know what to expect coming off hormones
Malik and I talked about wanting kids early on, but we never talked about how it was going to happen or any specifics. Eight months after we met, I had an appointment with a specialist about possibly getting a hysterectomy because I had been on hormones long enough that I was starting to have some issues. When I told Malik what I was doing, he was visibly disappointed. He didn’t try to talk me out of it, but he said, “Oh, well that’s unfortunate because I thought we might have kids someday.”
I went through with the appointment and the issues ended up going away on their own. So I tabled the conversation because I figured it was no longer a problem. And then we got engaged and married. And right around the time we got married, I went off hormones.
Knowing I was coming off five years on hormones, I didn’t know what I could expect. So there were a lot of unknowns.
I was turning 37, and all of those things together made us think that this journey could take us a year or more. It took about five months after going off hormones for everything to come back with any regularity. I didn’t even want to try before all of that got sorted out.
I think the first time we actually tried to get pregnant was in January 2020, and it didn’t work. The second time we tried was in February – and it worked. It was really fast.
Malik came home with one of those digital pregnancy tests. I peed on this stick, and I swear, by the time I stood up and walked out the bathroom, it said pregnant.
Being pregnant during the pandemic had its benefits
I spent an entire year bunkered in a townhouse in the valley, being pregnant and riding out a global pandemic. Quarantine was a blessing and a curse. I feel like from a safety standpoint it protected me from potential outside violence as a gender-nonconforming person who is visibly pregnant.
It protected me from having a lot of coming-out conversations about my pregnancy in person, which I think allowed people to process it. Especially at work, because of the way I chose to do it, I gave people resources so if they had any questions or discomfort they had someplace to go that wasn’t me. All of that was really great.
Getting to be in a caftan all day long when I was eight months pregnant was amazing. Being able to lie down and take a nap in the middle of the day when I was totally exhausted was such a blessing. There were so many things about it that were really wonderful.
The bad thing was that my husband did not get to participate in a lot of the pregnancy, because anything that happened outside of the house – sonograms, doctor’s appointments – he was not allowed to come to. Even in the hospital he wasn’t allowed to come until I was actually in labor.
Pregnancy should not be attached to being a woman
I want this kind of story to be more normalized so that people stop seeing pregnancy as something that is just attached to womanhood, because that oppresses a lot of people.
It oppresses women who can’t have children. It oppresses people who were assigned male at birth, whether they’re cisgender or not, who can’t have children. It oppresses gender-nonconforming cis women who just don’t buy into the overly feminized version of mothering that we show in our culture.
There’s no uniform experience of motherhood, and that motherhood is not in and of itself an identity.
For me, parenthood is something that I’ve always seen myself doing, but I have found a very unique and special way that I think changes my journey in a way that’s really cool. And although it is a lot harder in a lot of other ways, obviously I am who I am, and I wouldn’t change the authenticity of doing it this way for anything.
“Not Another Parenthood Guide,” to be published on November 3, 2021, by Coterie. Copyright 2021.
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