MEET Jake and Hannah Graf. They are the transgender couple who are about to become parents. Jake, 41, was born female and Hannah, 32, was born male.
In this age of enlightenment, when barely a day passes without another extraordinary human interest story being told, readers might think there is nothing exceptional in the Grafs’ arrangement. But there is. For when their child is born, they will be the first parents in Britain who are both transgender.
They gave an interview to the Daily Mail in which they revealed that their unborn daughter, being carried by a surrogate, is the product of eggs belonging to Jake. Apparently, Jake harvested these eggs six years ago at a cost of £17,000 – having stopped taking testosterone for six months.
People must make up their own minds about what effect, if any, this convoluted set of circumstances might have on the life of the Grafs’ daughter. Yet since they have shared their story with the public, they must accept that others will have a view and may well see things differently compared with them.
Personally, I am puzzled. Firstly, the Grafs are at pains to say they want the world to treat them normally, yet they have given media interviews on TV and in print in recent months in which it has been highlighted just how unusual they are as a couple. (Have they ever been paid for talking about themselves, I wonder?) Within such inherent contradictions does trouble fester.
Second, if they wanted to be parents so badly, why didn’t they adopt? By going down the fiendishly complicated surrogate route, only one of them (Jake) will have a genetic connection to the child. This imbalance seems rather sad. And what about the countless children who live in orphanages who do not know life at the centre of a warm family unit full of love, but really might like to?
Third, Jake froze the eggs which have enabled this imminent birth at a clinic aged 36 (before even meeting Hannah), thereby acknowledging that he was in fact still a she; for no man, obviously, could do such a thing. Talk about having your cake and eating it!
Without a trace of irony, Jake called this clinical procedure ‘emasculating’, but explained: ‘I’d been on testosterone for a good six years and I was very happy living as myself, but I didn’t want to miss out on kids and there was only one way I could be certain of being a father.’
This is the epitome of self-identification and for the public it is extremely hard to know whether we can, or should, ever regard Jake as the child’s mother or father, potentially leaving anyone who questions Jake’s status open to accusations of intolerance. Jake was happy to exploit ‘her’ eggs (so was at this point biologically female) but is to be classed as the ‘father’ (so in societal terms is male).
Yes, we should all live and let live. But Jake and Hannah have to realise this philosophy cuts both ways. If this couple – or anybody else – take exception to those who don’t agree with what they’ve done, or those who question the biological status of Jake, it is they who will be guilty of intolerance, not the other way round.
My overriding view is that even if your life is different in whatever way to what society still considers normal or average, that doesn’t mean the rest of us want to hear about it.