My husband is transitioning to female and we want to have kids: how can we make this work?

Updated Jul 25 2017
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My husband and I have always been happy to blur the gender lines, but he (current preferred pronoun!) recently told me that he identifies as transgender and wants to transition to presenting as female. (I'm a cisgendered lady-parts type.) I'm definitely not leaving — gender's not a dealbreaker for me, and this sure is going to be interesting! — but this does present a bit of a logistical problem.

We desperately want kids in a few years. Even if he doesn't get any surgery, hormones will probably make natural conception impossible, so we're looking into sperm banks before he starts anything. We've been looking for support online, but most couples with children where one partner is trans had them *before* transition.

Has anyone had children with their partner after transition? — Lea

Another queer person experiencing fertility issues here! *waves*

You might also be interested in this report about the experiences of trans folks and parenting — it includes experiences of trans parents who transitioned both before and after.

They also made a short film which will be made into a feature length as well:

Transforming FAMILY from LGBTQ Parenting Network on Vimeo.

I know of one couple (cis female and trans female) who had a biological child together. The trans woman banked sperm at some point to use.

My partner is a trans guy, and we're trying to have kids together. My eggs, donor sperm, but it's been a bit of a strugle. Five IUIs, one fresh IVF transfer, one frozen IVF transfer — and no resulting pregnancies yet. I'm almost 35, so no spring chicken but still young enough. So I guess all that to say, make sure you bank enough. You never really know how long it will take to conceive.

Anyhow, sorry this is all over the place. But it's rare to meet other partners of trans folks who are talking about having kids. And I'd love to hear more experiences…

  1. There are a lot of resources and cool folks out there who can offer tons of information and advice. We found a lot of information on babycenter.com. If you look up the lgbt groups there are some pretty active folks that know just about anything you'd want to know about conception. Good luck making babies! It's fun (sometimes frustrating) and so worth all the work.

  2. Have you thought of freezing embryos now? We're doing that to keep eggs young and because we need PGD. They can hold fertilized ones for decades.

  3. I was JUST reading a lengthy blog about this over the weekend. It was about an F-to-M father who gave birth to his own bio son — and breast fed him, too. There was a post about the ability of transgendered people to still procreate, even after hormone therapy etc… I'm gonna go scrounge through my browser history to see if I can find it again.

  4. Hello Lea,

    I'm going to share this post on my Facebook wall in the hopes that the couple I'm thinking of will respond to you directly. What I can say is that we're friends with a wonderful lesbian poly family where one partner in the primary relationship is trans MtF. Like yourselves they are also interested in having children in a few years, and it is possible.

    My partner and I are currently dealing with our own fertility challenges and have been lucky enough to have this family as a support. I'm not sure how much is covered by OHIP here in Ontario (Canada) however I can confirm we have at least one fertility clinic located in a major hospital that does have a program specifically for LGBTQ fertility.

    In the case of MTF transition sperm can be banked and IUI (intrauterine insemination) or IVF (in vitro fertilization) can be pursued at a later time.

    If you are considering IVF (which is more expensive, but has a higher success rate), you may want to consider doing IVF concurrently to the sperm banking since there is a higher rate of success with frozen embryos (fertilized eggs) than there is with frozen eggs.

  5. My last partner is transgender. We started dating while she was a he… and after 2 years of dating "him" she finally sat down and told me everything.
    Before she started hormones she went to a storage /clinic and made several deposits. She figured she'd want kids somewhere down the road.
    Anyway, a few months of hormones went by and I was taking a medication that could interfere with my birth control. I didn't know (it's more of an uncommon one, prednisone) and we didn't use backup method. We now have a 2 year old. When I got my first positive test, I was blown away. Everything in the communities we were finding online says it's not possible. We found nothing to say that it was possible at all… most articles we found said that usually within a month all fertility for MtF is lost.
    That ended up working out for us because she was not able to afford to keep the deposits. It can get really pricey: $250 for each deposit and then depending on how many you have made, a yearly storage fee for that. Hers was $300 a year, which doesn't seem like a lot, until because of a lot of issues with discrimination, she's not been able to get a job. We just couldn't wing it each year, so we let them go.

    I hope it all works out for you. Good luck!

  6. My friend doesn't want to sign up for a wordpress account (which seems to be required to post comments). She kindly shared this with me with permission to post:

    Banking: With my sperm bank, I had to stress several times that I wished to inseminate via interuterine insemination (IUI), as opposed to invitro fertilization (IVF, which costs 10-20 times as much). For this, you need a much higher sperm count in your samples (whereas with IVF sperm count and motility aren't as an extreme issue), and more samples (unlike IVF, which each straw can be used, IUI uses the full sample). Bank before starting HRT, as it can affect both sperm counts and motility. Also double check the health of the other parent, to make sure they are a candidate for IUI. The success rate I have been told for IUI is 20-25%, so here's the formula:

    x%=((1-(0.8^(y*((1-0.8^y)^(z-1)))))/z)*100

    x = chance of desired number of inseminations
    y = number of (healthy) samples
    z = number of desired inseminations (must be equal to or less than y)

    (I could be wrong here, but it tests well in my opinion)

    It helps to also have a backup plan. Whether that plan is to find donor sperm, enter a co-parenting arrangement, adopt, or not have children, it helps to have one of those in mind in case conceiving children on your own is not possible. It has been my experience that those attempting to have children have not always had things go smoothly.

    Since this is the stage I am in (luckily after 7 years of HRT, I am still fertile, and I am continuing to bank), I cannot give too much further advice. I am planning on nursing, to have a more active maternal role in my child's development (since I cannot carry), so that will be an interesting part of having kids for me.

  7. I'm getting some great replies on my facebook. This is from another friend who is MtF transexual.

    I've also heard more than a few anecdotal reports that infertility on HRT often isn't as permanent as doctors have led us to believe. I know of several women who were able to conceive after going off HRT for six month or so. I wouldn't count on regaining fertility if conceiving your own genetic children is very important to you, and not everyone may find themselves able to delay surgery and/or allow their testosterone return to male-typical levels for a prolonged period, but I feel it's an option that is frequently not considered because we've been told not to consider it. That said, anyone who wants to go that route should have a backup plan, because you DO have a higher chance of being infertile after being on HRT.

    • I've been seeing more and more reports of spontaneous pregnancies from MtF transpeeps on hormones! Those must be like, supersperm. In a nuclear bunker. Full of rainbows and red bull.

      But yeah, definitely not putting all my eggs (har har) in that basket.

  8. How set in stone is your (plural your) timeline?

    I'm sure you've thought about it, but you sound rather stressed at the thought of the technological route, and like you're really VERY certain about wanting kids.

    Maybe he could transition now all except for the hormones, and you could have kids naturally a little earlier than you otherwise would, and it could all just work out?

    • The only trouble is, from what I can tell, the earlier you transition, the better. While he's still pretty young, before he shows signs of aging, he wants to begin.

      Also, once you have made the decision to go forward, you want to start changing *right now* (he's already begun electrolysis on the face). I'm not going to hold him back any longer from the this – and that means banking sperm so that he can do everything he needs to ASAP.

  9. Hormone therapy may or may not make biological kids more difficult to conceive – I know trans woman who have produced babies years after starting hormone therapy, so I wouldn't say that option is completely off the table for your family. You might find some helpful information on this website:
    http://newtransfamilies.com/

    Not only is it a community for trans people and their partners who are creating families, but there is specific detailed information about banking genetic material for someone who is transitioning to female.

    Good luck! I hope you end up with the family you dream of. It's great that you and your partner can think this through early, when you have the most options. Preserving the fertility and families of trans people is an important, often-overlooked step.

    • Thank you for the website! I'm going to check it out as soon as I can – and pass it along to wife-person. =)

  10. Another Ontario-based queer person experiencing fertility issues here! *waves*

    Sherbourne Health Centre / Rainbow Health Ontario has some pamphlets about your options for having children.

    You might also be interested in this report about the experiences of trans folks and parenting- it includes experiences of trans parents who transitioned both before and after: http://www.lgbtqparentingconnection.ca/socialchange/TransformingFamilyReport.cfm

    They also made a short film which will be made into a feature length as well: http://www.lgbtqparentingconnection.ca/socialchange/TransformingFamiliesFilm.cfm

    I know of one couple (cis female & trans female) who had a biological child together. The trans woman banked sperm at some point to use..

    My partner is a trans guy, and we're trying to have kids together. My eggs, donor sperm, but it's been a bit of a strugle. 5 IUIs, 1 fresh IVF transfer, 1 frozen IVF transfer- and no resulting pregnancies yet. I'm almost 35, so no spring chicken but still young enough. So I guess all that to say, make sure you bank enough. You never really know how long it will take to conceive.

    Anyhow– sorry this is all over the place. But it's rare to meet other partners of trans folks who are talking about having kids!

    • I'm sorry to hear about your struggle. I hope all the best for you!

      And this is probably going to sound like a dumb question, but when you say 'make sure you bank enough sperm,' how much sperm is…. *enough* sperm? xD I am entirely serious – I have no idea how much is necessary for any given trial.

      • Thanks Lea– I really appreciate it!

        It's not a dumb question– not at all. The answer is though, it depends. You don't really know how long it will take to get pregnant, and then it depends how many pregnancies you're hoping to have. If you're doing IUIs- they'll use 1 or 2 samples (samples, meaning one ejaculate) per cycle. But then it could take 1 cycle to get pregnant, or 3 or 6 or 10 (each person's has a different threshold for how many they are willing to do) if you haven't gotten pregnant and need to do IVF- IVF only takes 1 sample for as many embryos as they can get but there are people that need to do IVF more than once. Does that make sense? I think the largest factor will be cost- beyond that it's how much are you comfortable banking. You always hope it won't take very many cycles at all (Many people do get pregnant in 3 cycles)- but if you're unlucky like me, it's good to be prepared if it's within your budget.

  11. if you do decide to freeze embryos – make sure to deal with a clinic that uses vitrification for freezing. It has much higher thawing success rates than the traditional methods. The technology is fairly new, quickly spreading around but still expensive for the clinics.

  12. You could do both at once. My (MTF) wife and I faced a similar dilemma. We decided to work on having kids and transition simultaneously. She began her transition – laser hair treatment, coming out to people, research, therapy, finding an endocrinologist – as we tried to conceive. She also banked sperm for kid #2. We were lucky and got pregnant after 3 months or so of trying. Once I entered the second trimester, she started hormones and began living as female outside the workplace. This had the advantages of it being easier to conceive, that our daughter didn't have to experience her mother's transition, and that we didn't have to put anything we wanted on the back burner. Also, my wife left her job to be a stay at home mom, so the timing of that meant she didn't have to transition at work. I worried that all the changes would be too stressful for us and our relationship, but it actually went fine. It helped that my wife didn't want a lot of attention on her during her transition, because people mostly wanted to talk about the pregnancy and baby. Our daughter is now 15 months old and we're all very happy.

  13. Oh my! I wish we had had this resource, I never could find anyone out there.

    My little baby is on my knee – she is two and a half months old. My partner was due to start her hormones the day we coincidentally got a positive pregnancy test. She had told me a few months before that she couldn't wait any longer, even though we had previously thought we could wait a few years. She rushed through doing her cryobanking, I had my IUD whipped out, and we tried for three cycles, getting pregnant just in the nick of time.

    I'd be so happy to talk to you about this sort of thing. We are pretty rare sorts of families – but you aren't alone. I can't think how to get you my email whilst still remaining anonymous, but I bet the OBF staff would help!

  14. Hi Everyone!

    A friend passed a link to this post on to me because she knows how passionate I am about helping LGBTQ families grow in the way that's right for them. To echo the crowd, it IS absolutely possible and there are SO many options! If anyone has questions I'm the Third Party LGBT Reproduction Coordinator for Fertility SOURCE Companies and would love to help!

    ~Traci

  15. My wife is a trans woman who saved sperm before transitioning. We conceived our daughter through IVF. She is a year old and a total delight. We know a few other couples who have conceived this way. I am not posting my email address publicly, but OBF staff are free to connect us, if you want to have a private conversation about this.

  16. Here's my experience: My wife is a transwoman, and we could not afford to bank sperm when she started to transition in early 2014. We started trying to conceive a year ago, and she planned to go off hormones for a short while to help her fertility, but wasn't able to tolerate how quickly things changed back (facial hair growth was the particular problem). We're open to using donor sperm, but at this point it's looking like it's going to be impossible for her to have any genetic children. However, she IS going to induce lactation when I do get pregnant, so I think that will be a great bonding experience for her AND help her dysphoria.

  17. I don't have firsthand experience in this, but as I work in healthcare and see a fertility specialist myself, I do know that more and more fertility specialists are making incredible strides LGBTQ+ families meet their family goals. They have extensive networks of both biological specialists and counselors of various forms (genetic, family, financial, etc.). It may be worth calling a provider in your area and setting up a consultation. It should be pretty clear from their website to what extent they strive to work with LGBTQ+ families. Good luck!

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