One of this year’s most travelled, and heart-warming, articles of GayIceland was the story of Henrý Steinn, a new dad in the North of Iceland, who happened to be the first Icelandic man to give birth during a gender transition process. The story was picked up by media all over the world, including UK’s Daily Mail, Independent and Metro as well as Turkey’s Cumhuriyet, the Indonesian Bangka Pos, Portugal’s 24Horas, Spain’s La Gaceta and Sweden’s Nyhether24.
Since the article was published in early May, the baby girl has been given the name Védís Bára Þórisdóttir – Bára after one of her grannies – and is thriving well, hates avocado intensely and gets around on her backside. Her dads are looking forward to celebrating her first Christmas and Henrý’s transition process is back on track.
So, how’s the little family doing now? “Really good. Although me and Doddi (Þórir Leó Pétursson, the baby’s other dad) have separated since but that was all on good terms and we share parenting. We now both live in Akureyri, I moved in with my mother and stepdad and Doddi’s recently found an apartment here so he’s close by.”
Are you busy preparing Christmas? “I’ve mostly been busy with exams – I took one term at the Akureyri Comprehensive College – so I’ve just been chilling for the past few days. I’ve decided not to continue with my studies next term, it’s a bit tricky with a baby, especially if we won’t get a child minder soon. My mum and stepdad and a couple of other family members looked after her while I attended classes and only one time I had to take her along. That was fine, she’s very easy, but I wouldn’t want to do that again.”
You were planning a big change in your life before falling pregnant, do you feel that becoming a parent is just as big a change or is it what you expected it to be? “Yes and no, it’s a slightly bigger deal than I thought, you can’t be prepared for everything. I’d say both becoming a parent and transitioning is equally big a change to anyone’s life.”
“I’d say both becoming a parent and transitioning is equally big a change to anyone’s life.”
Which dad does Védís take more after? “I think she’s very mixed. At first I didn’t see any of me in her but with time, when she stopped being wrinkled, she began looking more like me. Now, it just varies what others see in her, some say she looks like Doddi, some say she looks like me. I think she looks more like him whereas she takes more after me in character.”
And what sort of a character is she? “She’s a very chilled out baby, everybody comments on how relaxed she is, you hardly ever hear her complain. She’s very calm but still full of energy, not difficult at all to deal with. She “crawls” by shifting around on her backside, eats well – she’s tasted most things and likes it all except avocado, she finds it disgusting! I think it has something to do with the texture, she finds mango a bit weird as well.”
You’ve been trying to get a child minder for Védís, how’s that going? “I left it a bit too long because I was hesitant to call each and every one but I didn’t notice any weird reactions when I spoke to them; some of them had heard of me and our circumstances so it wasn’t a big deal. We’ve now found a few child minders that we like and are just waiting who’ll be the first to have available space for Védís.”
The interview in GayIceland went viral and your name and picture appeared on websites all over the world, what did you think of the response? “It was a little overwhelming; I wasn’t expecting that at all. It was fun to begin with, to see how far the story travelled but eventually I was just waiting for it to stop.
I received quite a few messages and that was fine, they were all positive and people just saying my story was interesting and wishing us well. But to get random friend requests on Facebook from strangers on the other side of the world, that was weird and I didn’t accept any of those. I did reply to the messages, just to say thank you.
The only negative response I noticed was in some of the comments sections and I just tried to ignore them; it’s perhaps a mistake reading them but I’m used to all sorts of reactions and know that ignorance is the root cause of all prejudice, so it doesn’t really bother me.”
Last week, you began your hormone treatment, after postponing it for just over a year because of the surprise pregnancy, how do you feel about it? “I’m glad to be back on track but the first time felt a little strange, mostly because I didn’t know it would take such a long time to inject the medicine; it’s a bit thick so you have to take your time emptying the syringe into the muscle. My blood pressure is fine and everything but now, after only a few days, I feel as if I’m about to get a sore throat but I’m told that’s a common symptom when the hormone starts affecting your voice. People don’t believe it happens this quickly but apparently your voice starts getting deeper pretty soon and your appetite increases so I’m prepared for that over Christmas!”
“Me and Védís will spend Christmas Eve here at my mum’s; Christmas Day we’ll spend at my dad’s and then go over to Doddi’s family … so she’ll probably be opening presents for three days in a row!”
What’s the family’s plan for Christmas? “Me and Védís will spend Christmas Eve here at my mum’s; Christmas Day we’ll spend at my dad’s and then go over to Doddi’s family in Árskógsströnd, where we used to live, after that. I want them to enjoy opening presents with Védís so she’ll probably be opening presents for three days in a row!”
And the outlook for 2017? “Is bright; two weeks in, my 20th birthday is up and it happens to fall on a Saturday so I think I’ll definitely celebrate. I’ve got a new boyfriend now so we’ll probably do something together. We’re taking things a bit slow; it’s different when you’ve got a baby, you really take your time getting to know each other but he and Védís have met and get along fine. So 2017 is full of prospect; my main goal regarding the gender transition is to have a top surgery sometime next year.”
Have you thought of having more babies? “Well, the first few months it was an absolute “No, no!” and I’m told that’s very normal for all new parents. But as time has gone by, the idea has become slightly appealing again. I’m not going to rule anything out at least and am in no hurry to have a hysterectomy.”
So would you be willing to carry and give birth to another baby? “I’m not quite sure, for now I think it’s a possibility but only time will tell,” says the happy dad who’s looking forward to celebrate Christmas with beautiful little Védís Bára.