We know there are people who are born with genitalia from both sexes. We can all think of examples of both men and women who behave across the whole range of masculinity and femininity, regardless of their sex. We also know that there are people who have a male brain in a female body and viceversa. And as the freedom of gender and sexual orientation increases, the more common it is to hear people going into roles that were discouraged, even prohibited in the past.
If one is strict, there already is a somewhat blurry line between what is a male and what is a female body. Did you know that men can lactate? Did you know that the clitoris and the penis are different developments of what is embryologically the same organ? In other cultures and species, such as seahorses, modern human’s ideas of what is male and what is female do not strictly apply, not just behaviorally, but even biologically.
All people, conforming or non-conforming act on their body in order to match their desired identity and role (whether it is simply deciding how to cut one’s hair or what to wear, all the way up to hormonal and surgical measures). For millions of years, most options to physically alter one’s body and one’s mind were obviously unavailable. Even decades ago, so many of the current medical procedures were unthinkable. Is it crazy to believe that decades and centuries into the future, other unimaginable options might be possible?
In 2008 a transsexual female-to-male appeared on Oprah, pregnant. Performance artist Lee Mingway has set up a fictional website on being the first pregnant male ever. Imagine how unthinkable the Oprah case would sound only 20 years ago, when Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito and Emma Thompson starred in Junior, a movie on male pregnancy.
In 2012, molecular biologists in Japan experimenting on rats have been able to obtain both eggs and sperm from stem cells (obtained from their skin). In the future, this could mean infertility treatments and the possibility of purely lesbian pregnancies. Gay couples could also produce embryos, although carrying the embryo to birth would require further advances.
So what about male pregnancies?
There are a few facts which seem to suggest it could be possible. There are certain cases known as “abdominal pregnancies”, a type of ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo does not develop within the womb. While it does imply extra risks, often, these babies are born in usual healthy conditions as the placenta has attached to other internal organs. If a womb isn’t strictly necessary for pregnancy, then perhaps, men could go through abdominal pregnancies too. Or since there has already been a case of a woman who received a uterus transplant and gave birth to a child, that might also be a possibility for men in the future. Customizable artificial organs are always plausible too. We already know the hormonal part can be taken care of.
Also, consider the fact that there is increasing knowledge on how to save very premature babies outside of the mother and that there is work being done to create external artificial wombs (like those in the Matrix). This means that we are becoming increasingly capable of sustaining the life of babies outside of typical conditions, an ability which would certainly aid attempts to put babies in men.
Momentarily leaving aside the issue of whether these things are possible, should they be done?
Clearly, it is impossible to settle such a complex question in a one post. Odds are, there will be a lot of opposition to non-traditional forms of reproduction. Concerns might include deviance from nature (or God’s will), the well being of babies and/or parents, changes in demographics, etc. Blind trust in technology is a recipe for disaster because it is a tool that can be used for the right or wrong reasons.
However, most of the time, important technological innovations are felt as greater threats than they really are. Two hundred years ago, some demonized or destroyed the machines of the Industrial Revolution and now, we have moved far beyond that. Birth control pills caused a similar conflict. I wouldn’t discard however, that opponents have a regulating role in history, keeping societal changes from occurring at a faster rate than we can handle.
In my opinion, these options will eventually be normal. Lesbians are already adopting kids and implanting embryos, why not let their kids be theirs on a genetic level too? Or what about gay couples wanting to get pregnant? In straight couples, men could get to experience carrying a child and women could get to further their careers even more without giving up on being a parent. They could even take turns. Perhaps, the whole idea of being classified into men and women will become obsolete. Countries suffering problems of low birth rates, such as Spain and Japan, might even find it useful to increase the population which can deliver.
Whether these predictions will take place or not, time will tell. If possible, whether they should be carried out or not, is for you to decide.