An Australian transgender man who postponed his physical transition to fall pregnant with a second child says he feels “blessed” to have grown his family.
After living as a man for three years, 41-year-old AJ Kearns delayed planned surgeries so he could carry a child for then-partner Zu White, ABC’s Australian Story reports
While Kearns and White already had one child together, complications during White's first pregnancy let to the decision.
“Even though I knew I was a man and was quite comfortable with the fact that I was transgendered, I had to put the physical transition on hold whilst I gave birth,” said Kearns.
“I understand my story may seem confusing. I see it as a simple thing. My body was blessed with the ability to provide life.”
Following consultations with a gender specialist to discuss hormone treatment and chest surgery in 2010, Kearns felt nervous about telling his psychiatrist plans to carry a child, while finding the pregnancy itself both physically and mentally tough.
“I was concerned that he [Kearn's psychiatrist] wouldn’t see me as a man or I guess maybe I wouldn’t be trans enough or it would be misconstrued as a desire to be a woman,” he said.
“Regardless of what clothes you wear or anything else they start seeing the quintessential female form.”
Although they are no longer in a relationship, White said Kearns was the perfect father who had drawn inner strength throughout the journey of the pregnancy.
“He is committed, he’s devoted, he’s very easy to work with,” she said.
And while Kearns sometimes worries about exposing his children to the ignorance of others, he said honesty has helped to broaden the perception of family among his community.
“As long as the child knows it’s deeply loved that’s what makes a family,” he said.
“So the fact that I have my own gender history I guess or story makes me no less a good parent. There’s nothing experimental about this, we’re just living our lives and being authentic and I think if you were going to raise a child that’s the least you give them is the sense that they should be themselves.”
Kearns, who has a Masters in Fine Arts, documented his pregnancy and transition during monthly photography shoots with Melbourne artist Alison Bennett over a two-year period
, resulting in a touring art exhibition known as Inverto.
Words by TROY NANKERVIS.