The New Girl: Rhyannon Styles On The Prospect Of Motherhood

ELLE's transgender columnist on why she's thinking about starting a family and what that means after years of transitioning

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As a transgender female, I will never be able to have a biological birth.

Just to be clear, I wasn't born with a womb. So, like many other women, natural fertility is never going to be an option for me.

It's very rare that I'm asked if I've ever wanted a womb, or if in the future I want to raise my own children.

And while I've never wished I could go back in time and be born as a girl in order to facilitate getting pregnant, I have recently been thinking about motherhood as a trans woman and one day raising a child.

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Recently, a lot of my friends have started to have children. As thirty somethings, in stable relationships, some married, babies have inevitably entered into our conversations and into my life.

There have been points in my life when I could've had my own children too. Although for the last ten years I've only dated men, during my late teens, and living as Ryan, I had many sexual relationships with women.

Calm before the storm #openingnight

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Since I began my transition in 2012, I've had to sacrifice my own fertility in order to become Rhyannon.

While much of what you read in the media focuses on clothes, beauty and bathroom regulations regarding transgender women, the side effects of the medication taken by people transitioning are rarely discussed.

Medically transitioning is a huge step. I knew that feeling comfortable within myself and being supported by my friends was really important before I began to take any hormones, and I'd been living as Rhyannon for two years before I made that vital next step.

Let me explain.

When transitioning from male to female as I have, it's expected that you will slowly become infertile. I take two prescribed medications to aid the feminisation process, these have dramatically changed my body - both physically and chemically.

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One of these medications is a steroid called estradiol - the primary female sex hormone.

Estradiol increases breast tissue, softens skin and redistributes fat around the body – mainly your bum and thighs.

Just to be clear, I wasn't born with a womb. So, like many other women, natural fertility is never going to be an option for me

This helps to create a feminine appearance, often sought by many trans women. I take 10mg a day via an oral tablet, which over three years has completely reshaped my physical body, transforming a skinny straight line into a slightly curvier silhouette.

To accompany the estradiol, I'm also prescribed Decapeptyl. This is an injection I have in my backside every twelve weeks. Decapeptyl reduces your testosterone levels and brings them into alignment with a genetic female – if not lower.

Once I began my injections, I quickly noticed a change in my emotions as a result of having less testosterone in my body. With my testosterone levels at an all-time low, I lost the sexual edge and aggression I so often felt. The best way to describe it is – I chilled out.

A doctor at the Gender Identity Clinic explained to me that once I began these injections I would slowly stop producing sperm. He also notified me of other side effects, which included a decrease in libido, loss of penile erections and genital shrinkage.

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We briefly discussed how I felt about this, but the logic seemed very simple to me.

I was so desperate to eradicate the testosterone in my body that my genitalia wasn't my primary concern anymore. If I was taking the steps towards making my body look female, then I didn't need my existing genitalia to be fully functioning. Or so I thought.

I knew that I wanted to move forward with my transition, but I had to admit, the doctor's words sounded very daunting and very final. I felt anxious, but took reassurance in knowing that every transgender women who takes these medications has to make the same decision.

Looking back, this was a huge moment in my life, although I didn't fully comprehend that at the time. Here I was, aged 33 and having to decide if I was willing to become chemically castrated to move forward towards my goal of becoming a woman and loose the possibility of ever having my own children.

I was advised to consider freezing my sperm. If I decided in the future that I would like to become a biological parent then, aside from stopping all my medication and reversing my transition, this would be the most reliable way to become a parent. At the time I didn't have the financial resources available to bank my sperm and within six injections, my testosterone levels became so low, my sperm was gone.

It's not a decision that I reflect on very often, however, it is one that I regret. Looking back, I wish I had frozen my sperm to potentially raise and nurture my own children one day.

On twitter last week, I was told by one of the anti-trans trolls to 'stay away from children' after I'd retweeted a post from Gender Intelligence advertising a youth camp for trans kids. While I think there are many positive benefits for younger trans people to come together and share their experiences, the troll thought differently.

I have no time for this prejudice. Telling a trans woman to stay away from children is absolutely ridiculous.

Making contact with a young child is not going to turn them transgender. Being transgender isn't passed on like a common cold and cannot be caught through a hug. Secondly, we are not sexual predators, if anything - as I've explained - sex couldn't be further off the agenda.

I know many transgender people who have children. Their children don't question or scrutinise their parenting skills, they don't consider it weird, abnormal or amoral that their mum happens to be a transgender woman.

On twitter last week, I was told by one of the anti-trans trolls to 'stay away from children'

As I see it, their kids are devoted to them. It's exactly the same as my other friend's children. Having a trans dad isn't going to make their little girls want to be boys or vice versa, it really doesn't work like that.

I've been in a relationship with my partner Ryan for just over two years, and although starting a family anytime soon isn't on the agenda, we've had discussions about our future together and the possibility of children within that.

I believe the commitment, maturity and responsibility I've developed in this relationship would easily cross over into becoming a wonderful mum.

What matters is that I can provide care and responsibility for another life, to nurture and help raise a young person with an awareness of the world and a sense of open mindedness, in much the same way as I do.

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