Chris E. Vargas
Courtesy the artist.
Extraordinary Pregnancies engages with the story of Thomas Beatie, best known as “the pregnant man.” Beatie’s story first appeared in 2008 in the LGBT magazine The Advocate, where his first-person article describes the discrimination him and his wife Nancy faced when trying to build a family. His story was picked up by big media outlets, appearing on interview shows with Oprah and Barbara Walters. A wave of negative attention ensued from both outside and within LGBT communities.
Thomas’ experience was not one I identified with, not only because of my own aversion to bearing children, but also his heteronormative expression of masculinity, though I recognize he might’ve been overstating this for a straight audience. Despite my critiques I experienced compassion for him. He seemed ill-prepared for the public’s dismissiveness and hate.
In this video I embody the role of Thomas, with my friend Siobhan playing Nancy, rescripting their vulnerable yet guarded 2008 interview with Walters. I start by enacting my own critique of Thomas and his story, then progress into a compassionate performance of wish-fulfillment. By the end of the video, I, as Thomas, assert an emotional strength and confrontational conviction in defending my, Thomas, and Nancy’s vision for their lives, gender, and family formation.