ABC's Cuomo: How Do You Avoid Complications in Transgender Pregnancy?

"Good Morning America" co-host Chris Cuomo offered "practical" advice on how a man, who used to be a woman and is now pregnant, could safely bring a pregnancy to term. After recounting the story of Thomas Beatie, formally Tracy LaGondino, the medical procedures he's undergone and his artificial insemination, Cuomo segued into an interview with obstetrician Lisa Masterson.

The GMA co-host asked, "All right, so, let's go from the bizarre to the practical here." In a story that could be filed under "news you can't use," Cuomo asked about the risks that hormone therapy could pose to such an individual. This "practical" discussion led to medical warnings unusual for morning television:

LISA MASTERSON: Well, a lot of times, the transgenders will take testosterone injections and especially since Thomas has a female baby right now, that can cause male type characteristics in the female fetus' sexual organs. So, the clitoris can get larger. Actually, the vaginal folds can come in and sort of mimic the scrotum or the male genitalia. So, it's really important that he doesn't take any testosterone, especially early on in the pregnancy, but even later on in the pregnancy when it can cause the clitoris to enlarge.

Prior to this segment, reporter Neal Karlinsky explained the background of Beatie, who has written an article on the subject for the "The Advocate." Of course, Karlinsky never identified the gay magazine's liberal political outlook.

And although Cuomo did ask about the psychological implications to a child who had a mother that was also his or her father, Dr. Masterson quickly told him that love was the most important part of any child/parent relationship. Realizing that he had just strayed into an area that could be considered judgmental, Cuomo quickly backtracked: "It's a good point to make, doctor. Oddity aside, biology aside, it is all about love of this child and as long as that's present, everything else is really going to be normal."

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:07am on March 26, follows:

CHRIS CUOMO: Let's talk about the picture making headlines around the world. Take a look. This person is legally a man. And he claims to be pregnant, but that's impossible, you say. Experts say not necessarily. It all depends on this man's unusual past. Neal Karlinsky, please explain.

NEAL KARLINSKY: The web page certainly grabs your attention, but could it be real? Could it be that this man, Thomas Beatie is actually pregnant?

RON SCHLIEPER (Neighbor): Quite frankly, I think it's a hoax. I saw him a few days ago, he didn't look like that.

KARLINSKY: Neighbors in otherwise quiet Bend, Oregon may not believe it, but Beatie writes in the online magazine the Advocate that there is an explanation. He's transgender, was born a woman and has had surgery to outwardly appear to be a man. In fact, this was Beatie eight years ago in Hawaii when he was still known as Tracy LaGondino. Since then, a lot has changed. He said he kept his reproductive organs, and after artificial insemination is now expecting a baby girl along with his wife Nancy. The couple won't agree to talk just yet, though the Advocate's editors say they have a reason to believe the story.

ANNE STOCKWELL (Editor-in-chief, The Advocate): We asked Thomas to provide us the name of his doctor. We called her and she confirmed with us that Thomas is pregnant and that his pregnancy is proceeding as it should.

KARLINSKY: Beatie writes in the article, "Our situation sparks legal, political and social unknowns." He goes on to address one of the burning practical questions: "To Nancy, I am her husband carrying our child. I will be my daughter's father and Nancy will be her mother. We will be a family. Doctors say it is possible."

DR. MARIA NEW (Professor, Pediatrics and Genetics, Mt. Sinai): It is possible for a man, like Thomas Beatie to be pregnant because he has a uterus.

KARLINSKY: The pair's neighbors remain skeptical.

JOSH LOVE (Bend, Oregon resident): I couldn't say that he looks pregnant. I mean, I could stick my stomach out like that.

KARLINSKY: They say the due date is July 3rd. And if it does work out and this man does give birth, the fireworks may just come early this year. For "Good Morning America," Neal Karlinsky, ABC News, Seattle.

CUOMO: All right. So, let's bring in an obstetrician here and get a little bit more information about what's going on. We're joined now from Los Angeles by Dr. Lisa Masterson of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, one of the country's leading obstetricians and you're going to help us get to the bottom of this. So, stunning photo. But what is the bottom line, doctor? A transgender man can be pregnant, yes? Why?

DR. LISA MASTERSON (Obstetrician, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center): Yes, absolutely. A transgender man can be pregnant because he has the same organs as a woman. He has a uterus. He has ovaries and he has the same hormones. So those were never changed in his gender reassignment. So, as long as those are all the same and functioning correctly, he has no problem with having a baby.

CUOMO: So, I guess the answer to the question is a man can be pregnant when he's actually a woman, biologically, that's the answer to the question, right?

MASTERSON: Absolutely. Biologically, a man can be pregnant as a woman.

CUOMO: Now, if this claim is true and this man is in fact pregnant, is this the first birth by someone that's legally a man?

MASTERSON: No, actually the literature shows that there has been another transgender male that has had a delivery so it's not actually the first.

CUOMO: All right, so, let's go from the bizarre to the practical here. Risks with this pregnancy. On the health side, any particular risks because of all the hormone therapy?

LISA MASTERSON: Well, a lot of times, the transgenders will take testosterone injections and especially since Thomas has a female baby right now, that can cause male type characteristics in the female fetus' sexual organs. So, the clitoris can get larger. Actually, the vaginal folds can come in and sort of mimic the scrotum or the male genitalia. So, it's really important that he doesn't take any testosterone, especially early on in the pregnancy, but even later on in the pregnancy when it can cause the clitoris to enlarge.

CUOMO: So, it's an interesting dilemma for him. In order to manage the health of this baby, this man should stop taking the hormones that made him a man and go back as much as possible to being a woman, which is what he was before he became the man. So, it's somewhat of a health issue, as well as an ethical issue here. Let me ask you something else. You're an obstetrician, medical doctor, of course. But, psychologically speaking, implications for this child to know that the mother is also the father?

MASTERSON: Well, as an OB-GYN and as a mother, basically, really, what I feel is the most important in raising a child is love. So that's the most important, and as long as this, this couple, you know, decides their roles. Which, he's taken on the male role, she's taken on the female role and they love this child, nobody is given a license to have a baby. So, if they love this child, then it should be fine.

CUOMO: It's a good point to make, doctor. Oddity aside, biology aside, it is all about love of this child and as long as that's present, everything else is really going to be normal.

MASTERSON: Absolutely.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org