There’s a beaming new dad living in the north of Iceland who is experiencing all aspects of parenthood, having given birth to his own daughter, and even breastfeeding her.
“I love it, I come from a big family with lots of babies, my daughter is my mother’s tenth grandchild and for as long as I remember, I’ve wanted to have children,” says Henrý Steinn, a 19-year-old new-dad.
However, his fatherhood has come about slightly differently than most others’ – as he carried and delivered his daughter himself on April 13th. “I had to be induced and then I was 26 hours in labour before I had a C-section. So I was well tired in the end but it all went well and we’re both doing great.”
Henrý Steinn is a trans man and had only recently started his gender transition when he discovered he was pregnant. “I was well into the consultation and was living as a man but was about one or two months away from starting the hormone treatment when I found out I was pregnant. It would probably have been less likely for me to fall pregnant after that, but not impossible, so everybody’s saying I was meant to have her!”
“I’m the first trans man in Iceland to have a baby during a gender transition process.”
As Henrý was concentrating on and preparing to have his gender reassigned, becoming pregnant at this time was certainly not part of the plan. “It was a bit of a shock when I started suspecting it, but very soon I started seeing it as an opportunity to have my own baby. I had been in contact on Facebook with a trans man who’s had a baby so I knew it was possible, but I hadn’t made
any decisions about future possibilities. I felt a little bit nervous about telling my consultants about the pregnancy but they were very supportive, in fact, my psychiatrist had encouraged me to start thinking about whether I wanted to have a family, and how.”
He admits having felt a slight increase in female hormones at the beginning of the pregnancy but that otherwise, his perspective of himself hasn’t changed and he’s still determined to go through with the process. “I’ve never felt 100 percent male anyways but I feel so much better on this side of the spectrum that I’m going to continue with the treatment as soon as I can.”
Henrý has been in a relationship with his child’s father Doddi, or Þórir Leó Pétursson, since Valentine’s Day of last year, after being acquainted with him for some years. They now live together in the small hamlet of Ársskógssandur, where Doddi’s family is from and Henrý’s family is dispersed between Dalvík and Akureyri so the location couldn’t be better and they both have their families close by. But as everywhere in rural regions, everyone in the area is aware of Henrý’s situation.
“As far as I’ve noticed, people have a laissez-faire attitude. I’m pretty laid back and open about these things but to be honest, I haven’t experienced any prejudice so far,” Henrý says and adds that health care staff has been wonderful to him.
“I explained everything in my hospital report and my mum, who was present at the delivery, did a good job reminding everybody that I am a man, so it wasn’t an issue.”
“My midwife was very understanding and supportive. I think she might have used the wrong pronoun about once and then there was the odd awkward word in between because the whole lingo is obviously aimed at women. But she was great.
Then I explained everything in my hospital report and my mum, who was present at the delivery, did a good job reminding everybody that I am a man, so it wasn’t an issue. I do realise that it’s almost always women who give birth; I’m the first trans man in Iceland to have a baby during a gender transition process.”
Henrý announced to his family in October 2014 that he was going have his gender reassigned and would start living as a man from then on. He says they received the news quite well and that his mother has been supportive from the beginning but that his dad felt a little weird about it to begin with. No wonder he got even more confused when Henrý announced a few months later that he was having a baby, yet still a man. “Yeah, dad was a little confused to start with but now he’s over the moon to have a new granddaughter.”
Despite having started living as a man before, the obvious change in Henrý’s body during the pregnancy made it a bit challenging to dress as a man. “I just tried to wear big, baggy T-shirts, it’s a good thing my boyfriend is bigger than me so I just borrowed his clothes. I did wear pregnancy pants although I found their cut a bit too feminine for my taste, but I never wore those pregnancy dresses or tunicas.”
Henrý and Doddi plan on having their baby girl named on Whitsunday but the name is a secret till then. Ahead is a summer of relaxation for the little family as the parents enjoy
their paternity leave. “She’s very good, she had some tummy problems at first but now it’s over and she just takes turns sleeping and drinking,” Henrý explains. “I’m breastfeeding and will do so until she and I have had enough, but I expect to resume the consultation for the transition as soon as possible.”
Have they wondered whether they should assume their daughter’s gender identity and how to bring her up, considering that Henrý was brought up as a girl to start with? “We’ve talked about not emphasising anything gender specific during her first years, not to focus on the colour pink and such. And then, when she starts having her own opinion on what to wear and stuff, she’ll be free to choose whatever she wants. I myself was given much freedom once I started to have an opinion on what to wear; I wore mostly sports clothes because I found them comfortable and was very happy to have the freedom to make my own choices,” Henrý concludes.