If you’ve seen the 1974 movie “Chinatown,” you may recall that great scene, where the detective, Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson), confronts Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) about the identity of the woman he believes is Evelyn’s father’s mistress.
It is a famous scene with Jake shouting at Evelyn, “who is she” with Evelyn responding, “She’s my daughter.” Gittes slaps her. “She’s my sister.” Gittes slaps her again. “She’s my daughter and my sister.”
Spoiler alert: Mulwray was raped by her father when she was 15. The young woman, Katherine, is, in fact, not Evelyn’s father’s mistress, but she is both Evelyn’s daughter and her sister. It can be confusing to unpack this scene.
Fast forward to today, to real life, not a Hollywood film or make believe, with the very confusing news story of a transwoman physician, Dr. Jesnoor Dayara, in Gujarat, India who has frozen his sperm so that when he undergoes sex-reassignment surgery sometime later this year, the child he hopes to give birth to as a woman will be biologically his. It can be confusing to unpack this story too!
Dayara’s claim is, while he was born male, he has always felt like a woman. He feels he was “born in the wrong body.”
Let us be clear on a few fundamental points on human biology and human sexual reproduction:
- Men have testes which produce sperm and women have ovaries which produce eggs.
- There are no “her sperm” and “his eggs.” There is only his sperm and her eggs.
- Women have babies and men do not, nor can they.
- You cannot be born in the wrong body, you are born in the body you get at birth.
- Sex must not be conflated with gender. Being a man or being a woman is connected to biological sex.
- Liking feminine or masculine things has nothing to do with our XX or XY chromosomes.
I recently wrote about a new study done showing that the majority of transwomen will want uterine transplants so that they can more fully express their feminine characteristics, like menstruating, getting pregnant, and giving birth.
The new wave of the “modern family” with men having babies, which is a movement of gay men actually not having babies, but rather buying eggs from one woman and renting the womb of another woman, so that they can delude themselves into thinking that they had the baby.
In fact, one case concerning a “throuple” of dad’s is making news as the judge has allowed the three dads to be listed on their son’s birth certificate. Of course, we know three men can’t make a baby, but this little boy was born via assisted reproduction using the eggs from one woman and the womb from another.
No mention of the genetic mother or the birth mother on this birth certificate, #WomenErased again and another child without a sliver of an identity or idea of where he or she came from.
And now, we are looking at a world where we will be told to live with Dr. Dayara’s fantasy of transwomen having babies lest we are called transphobes and become cancelled.
But what about the children born with all these strange new ways and into this new version of what family looks like? Are the kids all right like Hollywood and the media want us to believe? The sad answer is, probably not.
I like to say this is one of the largest social experiments of our time with our learning as we go. What studies we do have shown that the children are not necessarily all right, and they are searching for and finding, thanks to DNA testing, their biological parents and half-siblings. Adults are getting what they want with little consideration of the best interests of the children.
And if and when Dr. Dayara is able to give birth using his sperm, using a uterine transplant, with estrogen rushing through his male body (he will still have XY chromosomes and will be biologically male in every cell of his body), what effect will this all have on any children produced this way?
And how will this child explain his odd relationship with his mother, or should I say, his father? Like Faye Dunaway in “Chinatown,” when asked, who is this person, the child will respond, “He’s my father. He’s my mother. He’s my father and he’s my mother.”
- Jennifer Lahl, MA, BSN, RN, is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.