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J Midwifery Womens Health. 2015 Jan-Feb;60(1):62-9. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12213. Epub 2014 Sep 5.

Conception, pregnancy, and birth experiences of male and gender variant gestational parents: it's how we could have a family.



Like members of any other population, transgender and gender variant people--individuals whose gender identity varies from the traditional norm or from the sex they were assigned at birth--often seek parenthood. Little is known about the decision making and experiences of these individuals, including male-identified and gender-variant natal females who wish to achieve parenthood by carrying a pregnancy. This pilot qualitative study used grounded theory methodology to explore the conception, pregnancy, and birth experiences of this population of parents.


A grounded theory methodology was used to guide data collection and analysis. Eight male-identified or gender-variant gestational parents participated in the study. Data collection included individual 60-minute to 90-minute interviews conducted by recorded online video calls, as well as a self-administered online demographic survey. Data were collected from September 2011 through May 2012. Data saturation was achieved at 6 interviews, after which 2 more interviews were conducted. The interviews were transcribed verbatim, and a constant comparative method was used to analyze the interview transcripts.


Loneliness was the overarching theme that permeated participants' experiences, social interactions, and emotional responses during every stage of achieving biologic parenthood. Within this context of loneliness, participants described complex internal and external processes of navigating identity. Navigating identity encapsulated 2 subthemes: undergoing internal struggles and engaging with the external world. The preconception period was identified as participants' time of greatest distress and least involvement with health care.


The findings of this study suggest that culturally-sensitive preconception counseling could be beneficial for transgender and gender-variant individuals. The grounded theory produced by this pilot investigation also provides insights that will be useful to health care providers and others working with male-identified and gender-variant prospective parents.


cultural competency; gender identity; parenting; preconception care; testosterone; transgender; vulnerable populations

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