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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Seal Press to publish no-longer-pregnant man Thomas Beatie's memoir in October

"Pregnant man" Thomas Beatie gave birth to a baby girl on July 4th.

His book deal had been announced thusly on May 22, 2008 on Publishers Marketplace (no, he was not the first pregnant man, but Publishers Marketplace, I believe, lists whatever they get sent, there is no fact-checking):

Featured on Oprah and in People magazine, Thomas Beatie's LOVE MAKES A FAMILY: A Memoir of Hardship, Healing and an Extraordinary Pregnancy, the story of the world's first pregnant man, following his transformation from a girl scout and beauty queen to a legal and recognized man with a black belt in marital arts and a loving wife -- and their controversial decision to have Thomas -- who underwent gender reassignment surgery but kept his female reproductive organs -- get pregnant and carry their child, to Kathy Huck at St. Martin's, for publication 0n September 30, 2008, by Andrea Barzvi at ICM (NA).

Not sure what happened to give St. Martin's second thoughts (the massive avalanche of press coverage?), though I'd be curious what made them balk. Maybe the story was not tidy enough? But now Seal Press is publishing it, an interesting though logical move for a feminist press with an emphasis on parenting titles, that has published a prior FTM memoir (Max Wolf Valerio's The Testosterone Files), as well as other books dealing with transgender issues. Editor Brooke Warner write at the Seal Press blog:

Thomas's whole story will be told in his memoir, and it's a fascinating and moving story about family and identity and love, and ultimately about wanting to have a baby with his wife. I think it's true that the notion of family is ever-changing, and that having loving parents, no matter what those parents look like, or how they express their gender, is what matters. Thomas is a trailblazer because he's willing to share his story and he's not shying away from his truth. Why should he have to? He could have done this all in silence, like some trans men before him, but it seems to me that his willingness to be public with his choices can't do anything but help the trans community. Thomas also defines as a man, and he's legally a male, and a husband. If the trans community does in fact want visibility and equal rights then Thomas is doing his part. He's comfortable in his skin, as a man, and proud of his wife and family. He's an honest guy who wanted to have a family and who's opting to tell his story publicly. And who has brought a wanted and loved child into this world.

And the new title is
Labor of Love: The True Story of One Man's Extraordinary Pregnancy.
Selfishly, this means it'll be easier for me to get my hands on a copy. I can't wait to read it. And I hope there are baby pictures. There was a NYT Styles piece by Guy Trebay, "He's Pregnant. You're Speechless." At Salon, various transgender activists speculate about what his story means and why he's become so famous, now. The Guardian also has an interesting piece. But even a cursory glance at the press coverage (the first sentence of the first story I'm seeing come up on Google says, "If Thomas Beatie had been born a male and given birth, that would be something to crow about.") tells you why we need his book. I think the combination of his beauty queen pass, and his choice to relinquish that, as well as the motherhood angle are what made this story so captivating. I think it's also interesting to note that this all started with Beatie's essay in The Advocate in April, in an issue devoted to transgender issues.

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