Those born with male assigned sex organs cannot conceive children biologically; however, this may soon change, at least according to one fertility expert.
Transgender women—those who were assigned male at birth—could give birth as early as “tomorrow,” Richard Paulson, an obstetrician-gynecologist and the president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said, according to The Telegraph.
Thanks to advances in transgender medicine, donated wombs may be able to help transgender women conceive on their own, Paulson said during the society’s annual conference in San Antonio, Texas.
“There would be additional challenges, but I don’t see any obvious problem that would preclude it... I personally suspect there are going to be trans women who are going to want to have a uterus and will likely get the transplant,” he said.
Since at least 1999, transgender men have successfully given birth to healthy children, The Washington Post reports. More recently, Trystan Reese, a transgender man and his partner Biff Chaplow, gave birth to a healthy child last August. Despite their successes, the process is much more complex for transgender women. Primarily because a man’s pelvis is a different shape than a woman’s, making the birth much more complicated. Still, Paulson insists that it’s possible, but notes the birth must be conducted via cesarean section.
“There would be additional challenges, but I don’t see any obvious problem that would preclude it,” Paulson said. “I personally suspect there are going to be trans women who are going to want to have a uterus and will likely get the transplant.”
Despite the estimated 1.4 million adults in the United States who identify as transgender, very few male-to-female patients inquiring about transplants, Marci Bowers, a transgender woman and gynecological surgeon in northern California, told Scientific American. Bowers welcomes the idea, but notes that there are many potential risks to a fetus and mother due to the biological environment of the womb.
“I respect reproduction and I don’t think we will ever see this in my lifetime in a transgender woman,” she told Scientific American. “That’s what I tell my patients.”
Another barrier? Cost. If a uterus transplant were to become possible for trans women, very few will be able to afford it.
“It’s a class issue; you’ll only have wealthy people able to do this,” Christine McGinn, who performs gender reassignment surgeries in eastern Pennsylvania, told Yahoo.
Still, many remain hopeful. Although it may not actually happen "tomorrow," as Paulson said, other experts have sights on the near future.
“My guess is five, 10 years away, maybe sooner,” Karine Chung, director of the fertility preservation program at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, told Yahoo in 2015.