ivf and the politics of gender

July 27, 2007

This post has been floating around my head for a few days now, and I’d like to get it “down,” though I’m still not certain that it’s going to flow in the way that I’d like it too. You’ll just have to bear with me as I struggle with wading through some of my thoughts on this topic. 

First, I’ll start off with the easy update. So far the Lupron is treating me ok. I feel generally a bit warmer than usual, but it’s also warmer than usual here, so that could have something to do with it.  I wish I was better at self-injecting, because as is I can’t quite bring myself to actually “jab” the needle, even though I know it will be less painful, and also leave less bruises. I just can’t do it, yet. I’ll keep practicing though, and well, S comes home Sunday, and she can take over. She has no problems jabbing me with needles. Interesting. 

Now, back to the topic at hand.  As I’ve stated many many times before (here, in real life, etc) I don’t identify as butch, no matter how much I may look (or swagger) like whatever the stereotypical butch looks like.  I will cop to being a more masculine woman, and as far as labeling my own gender, right now genderqueer seems to suit me well.  Though I must say that I also feel as if my gender identity has taken a slight altering, or shift if you will, since we started trying to concieve.  With so much attention being paid to all aspects of my girl parts, its hard to not be aware of them to the extent that I am, which was not the case before we started the conception journey.

Before trying to make a baby, I think I had a different relationship with my body, especially my genitals. I mean really, outside of their function in sex, I hadn’t given much thought to them as hormone producing beings, capable (or not) of creating and sustaining life.  This process has certainly brought me closer to embracing and celebrating the most female aspects of myself, but has that acceptance made me more feminine? I don’t know. I don’t think so, but again, these are thoughts on which I am sitll ruminating.

Injecting hormones for IVF has been…interesting to say the least. As my friend E said yesterday, when we were talking about this very issue, and I said that I was writing about it (both here, and on paper) “I think you could write a story not just about how you don’t identify as butch but have a life surrounded by people who self-inject for gender reasons and you joined them sideways.” 

She’s totally on point with that. I’d say that over 50% of my friends are male identified, but of that 50%, perhaps only 5% were born biological male. I have a lot of gender-variant and transgender friends.  Most of them are on some journey of transition, whether that be via injecting testosterone, or surgery, or both, (and in some cases, neither,) and I’ve been lucky and honored enough to be privy to watching their journeys.  Sometimes I think that they are some of the most strong and courageous people I know, and other times I just think that they are just doing what’s necessary to live their lives the way they want to. 

Which brings me back to my feelings about IVF. Sometimes I feel like I’m being strong and courageous, but most times I just feel like I’m doing what’s necessary to live my life the way I want too.  Perhaps some may think that it’s callous compare the two struggles, but I don’t think so.  When I think about the tears shed, the rage, and the sadness that I’ve felt over the last few years, from the time I realized that the biggest thing I wanted to do was be a parent, and having two years of failed attempts at doing so, to where we are now, using medical intervention to (hopefully) get us there…well, I think that they can be similar in many ways

And lucky for me, I’m surrounded by so many people who can relate just a little bit, and who are so supportive of me, us, and our journey. It also helps that many of them are used to and handy with the big needles if I need some help a few weeks from now. 


  1. You’re shaping your body and your life to better fit your inner truth. I think “joining them sideways” is a great way to look at it.

  2. Damn, that’s an insightful angle on it — using the hormones as a means to realize an identity: a child-bearing, female mother — rather than as some kind of medicine to treat a condition.

  3. Great post. Wise thoughts. Thanks for letting us in on them.

  4. Interesting aspect!

    I’ve always found it hard to relate to the inner workings of organs, such as what they secrete and how those hormones act upon the tissues. It’s so abstract. I can’t really make any connection between fertility and genitals, though. But I will say, that pregnancy’s bodily changes made me do a LOT of thinking!

    I’m around a lot of diabetics so needles don’t really faze me.

    I really like your sideways analogy, though.

  5. A very insightful post. Thanks.

  6. I agree, this was a great post and really made me think about how doing IVF changed my relationship with my body. I wonder how adoption will?

  7. It’s all very mind boggling and I think I tend to sway each way but nothing to an extreme. Sometimes I wish it was all more clear.

    Very thought provoking…

  8. So interesting, and I really relate. I have a transgender friend and we’ve talked about my IF issues and how we both feel like our bodies have let us down and have failed us. And while he weeps every month over menstruation despite being on T, I weep every month over menstruation because TTC has failed again. Very interesting.

    The password for my blog btw is ************ should you want to read the protected posts.

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