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I'm transgender and have decided I don't want children. Instead, I'm prioritizing my physical and mental health.

L Brinks   

I'm transgender and have decided I don't want children. Instead, I'm prioritizing my physical and mental health.
  • When I was younger, I realized pregnancy and birth scared me.
  • As I grew up, I learned that fear was a symptom of my gender dysphoria. I transitioned at 19.

When I was 7 years old, I would play in the backyard of my family's Wisconsin home with my "Power Rangers" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" toys. Meanwhile, my sisters played house and pretended to have babies.

I liked to imagine myself as a superpowered green turtle living in the sewers of New York City. My siblings would imagine a family in which they were mothers.

As I grew up, I watched as people around me continued to daydream about their own nuclear families and then went on to have children. But my disinterest in raising a child only grew. When I finally transitioned, I accepted the fact that I did not want to be a parent. I'm simply not passionate about having a child because I see how difficult it can be. I also don't want to carry a child because of my gender dysphoria.

From a young age, I knew a lot about giving birth, and it scared me

When I was 5, I took a special interest in birth and babies because my two middle siblings were born in rapid succession — less than 18 months apart. There were complications with both their births, and I navigated that stress by reading and looking at real-life pictures in our family's copy of "A Child Is Born" by Lennart Nilsson. I was fascinated by pictures of sperm cells meeting eggs or in-depth diagrams of the female reproductive system.

Many of the images were overwhelming to me, but arming myself with information helped me feel safe. My mother would further ease my fears by answering my questions about reproduction, conception, and pregnancy. She would also pepper in anecdotes of her own experiences.

At 10, I learned about my body. I realized I had the same pieces and parts I found in "A Child Is Born" and that they could feed and create another human being.

When I was 13, my friends in Sunday school began to talk about being moms and wanting to have a big family one day. After years of research, I knew what that would entail, and I didn't want any part of it. My friends and I loved talking about horses and painting our nails, but I did not understand their wishes to become parents.

Turns out, my disinterest in being a mother stemmed from my gender dysphoria

From the day I was born, I was told I was a girl. I had a uterus, so that meant I would make babies and be a mother after I got married to a man. But when puberty started, I was horrified. My breasts grew, and I became self-conscious. I became hyperaware that I wanted my chest to be flat. I remember starting each day with a mountain of anxiety as I tried to figure out how to hide my breasts in my clothing. I had to decide whether to bind my chest.

I felt insecure and unsafe in my body, and all this was a sign of my gender dysphoria. It was like I had been handed the wrong instructions for the body I had.

Eventually, I realized I was never a girl. I began my transition at 19 and received top surgery.

As my gender dysphoria slightly eased, and I slowly became more comfortable with who I truly am, I finally accepted that I not only did not want to be a mother but also didn't want to be a parent.

When I transitioned, I realized not having children benefited my physical and mental health

Being pregnant is something I have nightmares about. Even though my body physically can become pregnant, the thought makes my skin crawl and my stomachache. In some cases, the idea of getting pregnant has caused me a panic attack.

These are the same reactions I had when I struggled with my chest. This is all related to my gender dysphoria. I have no desire to inflict these stresses on myself again by getting pregnant.

I've decided I don't want to be a parent so that I can take care of my own well-being — both physically and emotionally.

If I ever doubt my decision, I turn to my friends to see how sure they are

When I look at my friends who are raising children, I see their intense desire to carry a baby, become parents, and raise a family. I live in a mostly queer and transgender social circle now, and the path toward family planning is a steep and difficult one for most of them. Their certainty for a family is the only thing that keeps them sane throughout the process. I know I don't have that same driving force.

It is their certainty that affirms my decision not to have children.

I instead take advantage of the opportunity to be a greater friend, partner, and support system to the people I love — especially to those who have beautiful families with brilliant children.

I know being a parent is not something I want in this life, and by honoring that decision, I'm caring for my mental well-being as well as my physical health.