Implicit assumptions about who can be pregnant

Remember, kids, everything is worse for trans people – earthquakes, racism, fleas, pandemics, misogyny, Starbucks, everything. Miscarriages? Worse for trans people, obviously.

A 32-year-old man with obesity, Sam, arrived at the emergency room to be treated for intermittent abdominal pain that had been going on for 8 hours, according to a case described in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2019.

We can see where this is going already.

A triage nurse chalked this up to his “untreated chronic hypertension” and designated his symptoms as “nonurgent.”

Sam told the nurse that he was transgender, had taken a pregnancy test that was positive, had not menstruated in years, and had “peed himself” earlier that day. Yet the nurse still “deployed implicit assumptions about who can be pregnant” because she had “no clear classificatory framework for making sense of a patient” like him.

Or to put it another way, Sam had fucked up her-his body so thoroughly that the nurse was confused. No doubt that does add complications to a miscarriage, but then maybe we need to recognize that fucking up your body that thoroughly has its downsides? Maybe the issue is more medical/physical than political? Maybe this isn’t a particularly good example of How Society Oppresses Trans People?

Essentially, because of deep-seated assumptions that only women can be pregnant, the fact that Sam could be pregnant just didn’t compute.

The deep-seated assumptions are correct though. It’s true that only women can be pregnant.

It took several hours for a physician to discover that Sam was actually pregnant and in labor. Tragically, Sam delivered a stillborn baby after no heartbeat could be found.

… Sadly, this outcome [might] have been able to be avoided if the nurse had not had the assumption that men can’t be pregnant.

It’s not an assumption, it’s reality. In the context of a medical emergency it can be dangerous to appear to be the sex you’re not.

Big emphatic subhead:

Pregnancy, and pregnancy loss, isn’t limited to women

Yes it is. That’s exactly what it’s limited to.

In reality, many people who are not women (nonbinary people, transgender men, and others) get pregnant. One 2019 Rutgers study suggested that up to 30 percent of transgender men have unplanned pregnancies.

I wonder who those “and others” are. Or not so much wonders as understands that that “many people” is just the typical hand-waving. The people are not all that “many” and in any case they are all women. By definition.

Naturally, those pregnancies can also be lost, just like cisgender women’s. The emotional toll of a miscarriage or stillbirth is devastating for anyone, regardless of gender, but there are additional factors weighing on transgender people’s recovery from this loss.

So you see, kids, you have to remember to always add “additional factors weighing on transgender people” to every bad thing that happens to anyone anywhere.

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