Being a pregnant man comes with its unique challenges, including what Jesse Fluetsch calls “being hyper-visible and invisible.”
Fluetsch, who was the guest speaker at the pride week Taboo Talk Tuesday in Gore Auditorium, is a trans man who went off testosterone — a hormone often taken by transmasculine people to masculinize their appearance — to get pregnant.
The Taboo Talk kicked off pride week at Westminster College and Hanna Bartnicki, a sophomore technical theatre major who lead the event, said she hopes it helps people understand the diversity in the LGBTQA+ community.
“Something else that happens when you’re pregnant and don’t identify as a woman is you have three basic needs and none of them can get met at the same time,” Fluetsch said.
These needs include having gender identity affirmed, having the experience of pregnancy affirmed and feeling safe.
“In my day-to-day life with people who didn’t know me I wasn’t recognized as pregnant which kept me safe and my gender identity was being affirmed,” Fluetsch said. “But nobody was giving up their seat or holding doors for me or giving me special allowances because I was nauseous.”
Fluetsch said people often assumed he was fat when he was pregnant and don’t realize he is chestfeeding in public. Fluetsch said he once had to chestfeed — which is a more gender-inclusive term for breastfeeding — five feet away from someone in a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat.
“The guy doesn’t even notice,” Fluetsch said. “It’s funny how when you don’t believe someone exists you don’t see them even when they are five feet away from you.”
Fluetsch said that being invisible like this can restrict access to resources, but being hyper-visible can put him in harm’s way.
Fluetsch said he knew he wanted to get pregnant when he witnessed the birth of his nephew and that this process helped him become grateful for his body.
“It’s hard to be me in this body sometimes,” Fluetsch said. “I got to use my body to build my family and to create this beautiful baby. It felt redemptive.”
Sophia Gener (she/he/they), a first-year undeclared major attending the University of Utah, said they had vaguely heard about men getting pregnant before, but had not considered the reality of it until the talk.
Fluetsch laughed at the idea of a Taboo Talk being about pregnancy.
“We all come from pregnancy,” Fluetsch said. “So there’s been billions of people who have been pregnant […] but mine stands out because I am a man.”