Scientists Busy at Work Helping Transgender Men Make Babies in the Laboratory


    Evelyn Telfer, a reproductive biologist at the University of Edinburgh, is leading the effort to help biological women who are living as transgender men have children. The ongoing project was reported by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a school that focuses on technology and science, in their MIT Technology Review using the non-scientific argument that biological gender is an option. The MIT Technology Review reported on the issue, contending that transgender men were “assigned female at birth.”

    In the very first instance in history, scientists have said they've been able to extract eggs from the ovaries of transgender males and make them suitable for fertilization in a process outside the body. This achievement indicates that it is still possible to obtain viable eggs from transgender males regardless of the number of years of testosterone therapy, which may end the cycle of ovulation.

    This will allow transgender males who want children to not have to stop the gender-affirming treatment of their doctors and stay clear of vaginal probes, women's healthcare clinics, and treatments based on female hormones, all of which could be emotionally or physically distressing. Telfer presented her research findings, some of which have not yet been peer-reviewed, during an online presentation to members of the Society for Reproductive Investigation at its annual conference held in Denver, Colorado, last month.

    There are many choices for people who want trans treatment but would like to have biological kids one day. Adults are able to freeze their eggs, for example. This usually involves cutting off testosterone treatments and allowing menstrual cycles to resume, which could last for months. Hormone-based medications are used to stimulate female ovaries to release a number of mature eggs. These eggs are then collected during an operation that requires vaginal probes. The procedure is especially difficult for transgender men.

    “It's very exciting, very important work… and is going to be an important advancement that will potentially help a lot of patients,” observed Samir Babayev, an endocrinologist who specializes in reproductive medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who did not participate in the study; however, he attended the event in which Telfer presented her research.

    The MIT Technology Review article noted that this method could aid “young people” who undergo treatment prior to reaching puberty before they ovulate or menstruate.

    Telfer and her group have been successful in using eggs taken from women's ovaries. However, they were unsure if they could develop eggs taken from “people” who had undergone transgender-related treatment. Participants in this study were transgender men who were taking testosterone and undergoing procedures that involved removing their ovaries. They agreed to donate their ovaries to research, which were then compared to fragments of ovaries from women who had donated theirs following cesarean sections. Researchers were able to produce a tiny number of eggs that were mature enough to allow fertilization with sperm. However, the eggs didn't look exactly the same. Telfer's group will test the procedure on sheep before attempting it on human subjects.

    “I would like to have our culture system be more robust before attempting fertilization,” Telfer stated.

    However, people in the LGBT community are ecstatic. “The more options [to start a family] we have as trans people, the better,” D. Ojeda, who is the senior national coordinator of the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington, DC, said in the article.


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here