From the Village: Nik Redman reflects on Trans Fathers 2B
November 5, 2023
Today is Trans Parent Day, celebrated every year on the first Sunday of November, so we caught up with Nik Redman to talk about a program he helped facilitate in 2007 and 2008 at The 519 called Trans Fathers 2B.
Around the same time, a story captured the public’s attention: Thomas Beattie, sometimes called the “Pregnant Man.” Covered by everyone from blogs and tabloids to the Oprah Winfrey show, the story was simple: a trans man was pregnant. This largely unremarkable occurrence had finally reached mainstream media.
“People were definitely learning something. A lot of people probably hadn’t considered that this was possible,” Redman says. “There was this picture that was really captivating for people where he and his wife were embracing. He has chest surgery scars and a pregnant belly. At the time there wasn’t a lot of media about trans guys at all. We were either invisible or on Maury Povich.”
When questions about fatherhood came up for Nik, he and others realized that not only was the information he needed not covered in other queer parenting courses, but it was also scarce online. “We didn’t know how long you would have to be off testosterone to be able to actually get pregnant,” he says. “The deeper you got into it, the more questions you had.”
Would insurers cover pregnancy care for someone whose ID says “male”? Could a man who gave birth get parental leave from work? What could a trans guy wear while pregnant that isn’t flowy maternity wear for women? Would it be unsafe for some trans guys to undergo a process like pregnancy that may publicly out them as trans? Nik and The 519 knew a program separate from the available Daddies and Papas 2B course was needed to help navigate these issues.
The program ran a successful cohort at The 519, and lessons learned eventually transferred to other less segregated family planning programs. “There was something to be said for having time alone as trans guys to explore that as a group, but I think as time has gone on, it’s actually better to learn about in mixed gender parenting groups,” Redman says. “Not every aspect of every class will be relevant to every person, but everyone’s knowledge can be expanded.”
Before the course started, Redman told Xtra! that he and his friends didn’t really know any trans guys who had given birth or adopted, which he says has improved since. “We have online forums for trans dads,” he says. “Once you become a parent, there’s a whole community of parents you become part of, then inside of that, there’s the community of queer and trans parents. You end up not as isolated as you thought.”
“I remember we worked with a fertility clinic, and it was so refreshing to get there and not to get puzzled looks. We actually created positive interactions for trans people with these medical professionals,” Redman says. “It really felt like we had done something to make things better.”
Today, most of The 519’s child and family programs are for families with kids, but we occasionally hold fertility workshops. EarlyON has upcoming seminars about child safety on November 9th and managing stress as a caregiver on November 23rd. More robust 2SLGBTQ+ family planning groups have moved mainly to Sherbourne Health. The 519 also offers a support group for trans guys.