After months of headlines—and 40 hours of labor!—transgender male Thomas Beatie and wife Nancy welcome their daughter

By Champ Clark
August 04, 2008 12:00 PM

Thomas Beatie can’t help boasting. “She was already lifting her head on the first day!” he says, cradling his newborn daughter in his arms. “She’s going to be a black belt in karate like me!”

Beatie, better known to the world as The Pregnant Man, is in full proud-father mode: “She’s Daddy’s little princess!” he gushes. But when his baby daughter starts to cry, Beatie, 34, is suddenly aware that his role as father only goes so far. “Nancy, she’s still hungry,” he calls to his wife, after an attempt at a quieting baby bounce. “I’m coming, I’m coming,” Nancy says, taking the infant and preparing to feed her. “I’m just like any typical father,” admits Thomas, stroking his light beard. “All I can do is walk around and rock her.”

Well, not any typical father. Thomas and wife Nancy’s daughter Susan Juliette Beatie was born on June 29 at a healthy 9 lbs. 5 oz., measuring 21 3/4″ and crowned with a full head of dark brown hair. What baby Susan’s birth certificate doesn’t record is that she is perhaps the first, and certainly the most talked about, child born to a legally transgender male—in this case, a former beauty pageant finalist who now lives as a man while retaining female reproductive organs. After conceiving through artificial insemination with donor sperm, Thomas carried Susan for 40 weeks in his ever-expanding belly without, he says, ever questioning his manhood. “I did what I had to do to procreate with what I was given,” says Thomas. “But I’m always going to be Susan’s father and Nancy’s husband; giving birth didn’t change that at all.”

Despite the Beaties’ unique take on family planning, their child came into the world the same way babies have since the beginning of time. Thomas woke with mild contractions in the early morning of June 28, but on the advice of Nancy—who has two grown children but can no longer conceive after a hysterectomy—rode out the contractions for 24 hours before heading to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Ore. As his contractions increased in frequency and intensity, Nancy never left her husband’s side. “She wanted to take the pain away,” says Thomas. “She held my hand, she fed me ice chips, she brought jelly beans from home, she practically crawled into bed with me.”

At 8:55 p.m. Beatie’s midwife called out to him, “I can see her—just push, push!” Moments later, after 40 hours of labor, Susan arrived in the world. “When she finally came out, it was like in slow motion,” says Thomas. “And when they finally brought her to me, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I couldn’t believe Nancy and I created her together. We were finally the family we’d been dreaming of.”

Nancy prepared for Susan’s birth by getting ready to breast-feed through a process called induced lactation, using hormones and physical stimulation with a breast pump. Even before she began taking the pills, Nancy says, “My chest started changing. My brain was sending messages to my body saying, ‘Get ready, you’re breast-feeding.'” In the end she says her breasts have grown three sizes, and she is off the hormones now that the baby is here. “It’s just me and baby.”

Three weeks after her arrival, Susan’s nursery in the family’s five-bedroom house is filled with presents from well-wishers. Tyra Banks sent a silver rattle from Tiffany’s and Larry King gave stuffed animals from Africa. On a shelf is a picture of Thomas’ mother, who committed suicide when he was 12. “Susan was my mother’s first name and Juliette is Nancy’s middle name,” he says. “They’re the two most important women in my life.”

The latest woman to enter Thomas’ life spends most of the day in the Land of Nod; she’s more alert from 11 p.m. into early morning. “Every waking moment we are attending to her needs,” he says, “and when she’s sleeping, we’re hovering around her making sure she’s okay.”

Thomas says he already knows his daughter’s personality: easygoing, athletic and intelligent. He feels excited about the future—and a little nervous. “If Susan wants to pierce her nose, we’re going to have to have a little talk about that,” he says. “All we can do is equip her with knowledge and love, and hopefully she’ll make the right decisions.” As for the circumstances of Susan’s birth, the Beaties will opt for full disclosure. “It’s not going to be some big shock,” says Thomas. “She’s going to know.”

In the meantime Thomas awaits each new first in Susan’s life. “I can’t wait to be invited to her first tea party!” he says. “That’s what I’m really looking forward to.” A trace of shadow crosses Thomas’ face before he breaks into a wide smile. “That is, if boys are allowed.”