MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Most healthy 18-year-olds don't have to make major decisions about their fertility, but Youth Radio's Cole Carman did. Cole was born a girl. And at the start of the transgender process to become a man, his doctor asked him a tough question - did he want to have children? Cole shares his story as one of the first trans male teens in the country to freeze his eggs pre-transition.
COLE CARMAN, BYLINE: Earlier this year, I was supposed to get my first testosterone shot, but instead, I ended up taking female hormones. I'm 18, and I'm transgender. After months of preparation, I was finally meeting up with my doctor to begin my transition and start taking male hormones. But I was thrown off when my doctor handed me a pamphlet about planning for my future fertility. She asked if I was interested in freezing my eggs before I started taking male hormones. The idea of taking female hormones - a requirement for freezing my eggs - felt like a huge step backwards. But I did want to have biological kids someday, which was possible if I was willing to take some of my past self with me.
For transgender people like me, it's tempting to think of your life in terms of before and after your transition. Last year, when I discovered the term transgender, I was like, yes, that's me. It was a great moment, but also scary because I suddenly felt like I had to distance myself from the last 17 years of my life. At first, I just wanted to hurry my transition to male, forget I was ever female and lose the transgender label altogether.
In the trans community, it's called living stealth, but when I chose to take female hormones so I could freeze my eggs, I was forced to confront all that. It delayed my transition more than a month. My ovaries swelled, and I endured multiple ultrasounds. It forced me to be real with myself - really examine what it meant to be a man. I found myself becoming proud of my identity as a transgender man. I no longer daydreamed about living stealth or pretending I had been born biologically male. I was a different type of man, and having lived as a woman was a part of that. Some men are born, and some men are made.
MARTIN: That's 18-year-old Cole Carman. He's from Pittsburgh, Calif. His commentary was produced by outLoud, a project of Youth Radio.
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