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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 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/13/opinion/the-next-frontier-in-fertility-treatment.html?—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?

Update

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

(34)

JackAaah

Jan-14-14 8:03 AM

seems Andrea says a lot of things to raise the readers ire.....but if we raise your ire, Andrea, why so quick with the delete button? Try to have a little open-mindedness for others as you have for yourself?

JackAaah

Jan-14-14 8:00 AM

I see Andrea deleted the letter....why? Credit was given to the Williston Herald...

A quote from Andrea..."Eventually, Inkster found a clinic willing to do the treatment. Inkster conceived a daughter ..."

'to do the treatment'. Some would say that doing a 'treatment' is trying to fix a 'sick' condition....and many might agree...many. Some others would say AI-ing a person with a mental condition really is not a 'treatment'...

EarlyBird

Jan-14-14 7:31 AM

WEIRD: Because Normal Isn't Working

EarlyBird

Jan-14-14 7:21 AM

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

JackAaah

Jan-13-14 7:23 PM

There's a letter to the editor in the Williston paper....I c/p it to Andrea's 'legalization of gay marriage in ND" blog ....very interesting and funny...

redneck

Jan-13-14 5:56 PM

i hope nobody actualy wastes time on this case

AndreaJohnson

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.

landslide14

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..

jbinminot

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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