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Evan Hempel always had plans to get pregnant and carry a child, even while transitioning into a male.
While Hemple has been taking hormones since 2003 to physically become male he never lost his desire to give birth so, in April 2016, following several rounds of artificial insemination using donor sperm, the 35-year-old gave birth to his son.
In a recent piece for TIME called ‘My Brother’s Pregnancy and the Making of a New American Family,’ Evan’s sister Jessi talked to her sibling about his pregnancy and how it represent's modern families.
On getting pregnant the Boston man acknowledges in the interview he wasn’t sure exactly how it would all play out.
“It was a gamble,” Hempel told TIME. “I didn’t know how I’d feel, but it turns out I just feel like it’s really cool that my body can do this.”
Hempel also talked about going into the HR department at his work to tell them he was pregnant.
“It wasn’t that I expected her to have a negative reaction,” he said of breaking the news. “I just had no idea at all.”
But the father-to-be said the HR representative was delighted about the news and congratulated him by saying: “Well, this is unexpected, but that’s great!”
Both the interview and the imagery used to tell Evan’s story represent important messages of society's growing acceptance toward trans people becoming parents, with most people embracing the dad throughout his pregnancy.
But Jessi said that the positive reaction was “less surprising” when you consider that the pregnant dad didn’t tell a lot of people he was growing a baby inside. According to his sister Jessi, “he looked like a guy with a beer belly.”
Evan said while he might have avoided the judgement of strangers who took his swollen belly for something else, he did feel he missed out on the wistful doting that other pregnant people get.
“People talk about the attention you get when you’re pregnant, and for the most part that was absent for me,” he says.
“Mostly I liked that, because I don’t like body attention normally, but there’s also a loss.”
One ostensible negative for Evan’s unusual situation was the issues he had around his medical insurance, which wouldn’t cover pregnancy tests and other things, because he was registered as male.
“My sex is female, and my gender is male,” he explained it, but said he eventually had to change his gender to female on his medical insurance.
“When I get insurance letters, they don’t say ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am.’ They just say ‘Dear Evan Hempel,’ and that’s just fine,” he says. “At the end of the day, it was just frustrating to get denial after denial of services.”
Hempel – who is raising his baby with his female partner – is chest-feeding his son, what transgender men call breastfeeding. He says once the baby gets old enough he plans to start taking testosterone again and eventually his breasts will shrink down.
Evan and his family represent the beauty of modern families – while his pregnancy might challenge the binary notions of gender, his tender affection for his son demonstrate that parenting is ultimately about how you love a child, not how that child came into your life.
In the TIME piece his sister Jessi poignantly writes: “To outsiders, his [Evan] family will look like any other – a tossed-together group of kids and adults raising one another.”
You can read the full story here.