A transgender man who has given birth to two children has opened up about his 'traumatic' experiences during pregnancy, and has stressed the need for better education on trans pregnancy among the medical community and the greater public.
Kayden Coleman, 34, has a seven-year-old named Azaelia and a 10-month old named Jurnee with his partner, and while he is clearly a proud father, he describes both of his pregnancies as 'very tumultuous.'
Speaking to the Today show, the Houston-based advocate and educator has detailed how he was misgendered, turned away from care, and even offered an abortion by misguided medical professionals.
Candid: Kayden Coleman, 34, has opened up about what it's like to be pregnant as a transgender man
Baby time! Last year, he welcomed his now ten-month-old daughter, Jurnee
Surprise! He also has a seven-year-old daughter, Azaelia, who was conceived in 2014 when he temporarily stopped taking testosterone
Kayden began transitioning from female to male in 2009, but has not had genital construction surgery, and has kept his female reproductive organs.
In March of 2013, he had a mastectomy to remove his breasts, and had to temporarily stop taking testosterone.
He was soon shocked to discover he was five months pregnant with his first child, whom he gave birth to in 2014.
Last January, he was again stunned to learn that he was pregnant again, expecting a child with his boyfriend, Dominique, 30.
Kayden proudly shows off photos of both of his children on Instagram, but he is still struck by how particularly difficult both of his pregnancies were.
'There was a lot of trauma,' he said. 'Most of that came from inside the birthing world, with medical professionals. There was a lot of questioning about my identity, a lot of misgendering. Being told I shouldn't be in spaces I was seeking care from because they were considered women's spaces.
'I was offered an abortion a ridiculous amount of times,' he added.
Mechanics: Kayden began transitioning from female to male in 2009, but has not had genital construction surgery, and has kept his female reproductive organs
Another one! Last January, he was again stunned to learn that he was pregnant again, expecting a child with his boyfriend, Dominique, 30
Tough: Kayden proudly shows off photos of both of his children on Instagram, but he is still struck by how particularly difficult both of his pregnancies were
Since most people assumed his stomach was just fat, he also missed out on some of the 'perks' of pregnancy, like people making him feel special.
But he admits that it was actually better that they didn't know the truth.
'I didn't have to walk around in fear, worrying that people wanted to inflict violence on me,' he said. 'They thought I had a beer belly.'
But with the wisdom of his own experiences, he is now working to educate people about being trans and pregnant, and even hosts workshops on the subject.
'Being trans inclusive involves more than simply knowing the terminology. It’s more than having a few trans friends. And it is certainly more than having the mere desire to be an ally,' he said on Instagram. 'It is work. Constant education. Understanding your privilege.'
'It’s not about whether or not you quote-unquote agree with us. We don’t care about your acceptance or agreement. We just want equity and safe, inclusive care,' he added.
Not OK: Kayden says he has been misgendered, turned away from care, and even offered an abortion
Learn more! He called his pregnancies 'very tumultuous' and is educating others on how to care for trans pregnant people
Struggle: Kayden said he suffered from postpartum depression and 'very real suicidal thoughts' after the birth of his first child
That can mean a lot of things, including offering more literature and resources for pregnant trans people, using more inclusive language, and offering better protection for trans people when they seek medical care.
Today cites a National Transgender Discrimination Survey that found that 28 per cent of respondents reported being harassed in medical settings. Two per cent even said they were victims of violence in a doctor’s office.
In fact, 22 per cent of transgender and non-binary people have home births instead of hospital births — compared to 1 per cent in the general population — which puts them at greater risk.
Postnatal care is important, too. Kayden said he suffered from postpartum depression and 'very real suicidal thoughts' after the birth of his first child.
'When I found out I was pregnant again, the first thing I thought to myself was, I don't want to have another situation like that,' he said on Instagram.
'I've never been scared of backlash because at the end of the day until these people are paying my bills or putting food on my table their opinions are just that,' he said
Learn more! He hosts workshops on trans fertility and birth
Still, pregnancy hasn't been all bad: 'I do enjoy parts of being pregnant like the fact it makes my beard thicker.'
Kayden previously opened up about his decision to transition.
'Even growing up as a girl I hated my chest, I never wanted to wear a bra and I knew that even if I didn't transition I would have had a reduction,' he said.
'But I never had bottom surgery because it's expensive, there are often a lot of complications with it and it can numb things sexually,' he added.
'I've never been scared of backlash because at the end of the day until these people are paying my bills or putting food on my table their opinions are just that.'
'I knew I wanted to transition in 2007 but at that time there weren't very many resources and a female to male transition wasn't very common,' he continued.
Kayden, pictured as a young girl, began transitioning from female to male in 2009
'We don't really have any issues when we're out with Azaelia,' he added. 'People just see two men and a baby because it's not outwardly apparent that I carried her in my womb'
'If you went on Google and searched for testosterone you would get some sketchy website based in India and it was hard to find binders for your chest.
'I identified as a lesbian at the time, and my girlfriend was not okay with me transitioning and tried to talk me out of it, so it wasn't until 2009 that I started the process.
'I had to stop taking testosterone six weeks prior to the surgery and a month after I had it, I conceived my first child,' he recalled. 'I thought I was just gaining weight but actually I was growing a baby.'
He continued: 'When Azaelia was born, there were a lot of people who said they felt sorry for her and that she would grow up and be confused.
'They said that she should be taken away and called me a monster. But it's important for people to understand that we have full autonomy over our bodies and we should do with it as we please.
'We don't really have any issues when we're out with Azaelia,' he added. 'People just see two men and a baby because it's not outwardly apparent that I carried her in my womb.
'When Azaelia was born, there were a lot of people who said they felt sorry for her and that she would grow up and be confused,' he said
'I think a lot of people just think that we had sex with a woman or adopted her and when she says she has to dads nobody questions her because we have taught her to be proud of who she is and where she came from.
'But there's been a lot of objection to my pregnancies in terms of the medical side of things. I've been told I don't belong in certain places because I'm not a woman and I've been offered an abortion more times than any woman would have been offered by medical staff.
'When I had Azaelia, I had to switch my health insurance back from male but female and had to deal with them calling me Mrs. Coleman when I was in the waiting room.
'I think it's important that people understand that there are a plethora of trans-identities we are not all one and the same. Just because I went from female to male doesn't mean I have a desire to date women or be hyper masculine or even be cis-gender.
'I don't have to hate my body or object parts of it to be considered a real man,' he said.
'I'm lucky enough to have a working uterus and reproductive system that allows me to carry a child and create life so why should I have to reject that part of me just because I'm trans?'