A transgender man’s journey from pregnancy to parenthood

By Thanh Nga   April 10, 2024 | 05:27 am PT
Almost two months after childbirth, Ngo Quyen is still in awe of his own journey: he carried a child for 9 months and 10 days, and then became a mother.

Ngo Quyen, now 35 years old, was born a girl named Ngo Thi Xuan Huyen. From a very young age, he always felt different from his peers, and this led him to resent his feminine appearance and voice during high school.

Five years ago, Huyen embarked on a gender transition journey, undergoing hormone therapy and breast reduction surgery, and changed his name to Quyen. Post-transition, Quyen identifies as a homosexual man.

However, after marrying Nguyen Hong Son, a 25-year-old gay man, Quyen was determined to have his own biological child with his partner.

Ngo Quyen (dressed in black) and Hong Son during their wedding photoshoot in March 2023. Photo courtesy of Quyen

Ngo Quyen (dressed in black) and Hong Son during their wedding photoshoot in March 2023. Photo courtesy of Quyen

On their wedding day, March 26, 2023, Quyen, dressed in a white suit, and Son in a pink suit, as they exchanged vows in front of hundreds of guests.

"Even though I was not born a man, I’m the happiest man now that I get to marry the love of my life. I will do everything for you and our family," he told the gathering.

Given his capability and willingness to bear children, Quyen was ready to do whatever it took to start a family.

After settling into married life, Quyen paused his hormone therapy, which led to the resumption of his menstrual cycle. Medical check-ups confirmed his fertility, and by the end of May 2023, the couple was thrilled to discover they were expecting a child.

During the first trimester, Quyen experienced changes in his body and voice, which unnerved him. He had to adopt a strict diet, refrain from strenuous exercises, and even listen to music daily for the baby’s optimal development.

"My husband was having mood swings and severe morning sickness. Even my body smell irritated him," said Son.

Quyen put on more than 20kg throughout pregnancy, leaving his body heavy and his mood vulnerable. Seeing his husband’s struggles, Son stepped up to support Quyen as best as he could.

Son learned to cook for his husband despite never cooking before. He was there for Quyen during every prenatal visit. Every night, Son would spend time talking with the baby and applying stretch mark cream on Quyen’s baby bump.

The couple also felt societal pressure and judgment from other people every time they went out. Strangers would give them looks, expressing disgust at a pregnant man. The increasing stress led to frequent arguments between the newlywed couple, which escalated to the point at which Quyen ran away from home. However, having their growing baby in mind, the couple quickly reconciled and encouraged each other to move forward.

In the final trimester, Quyen learned that the baby was at risk of low birth weight, weighing only 2kg at the time. His mother began preparing many nutritious meals for him.

"I had to eat so much that I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t recognize myself in the mirror due to the weight gain," Quyen recalled.

Ngo Quyen in the final trimester in December 2023. Photo courtesy of Quyen

Ngo Quyen in the final trimester in December 2023. Photo courtesy of Quyen

On the first day of Lunar New Year 2024, when the whole family was gathered together, Quyen suddenly showed signs of labor a few days ahead of the due date.

Son immediately packed some clothes for the baby, and the couple rushed to the hospital for a C-section delivery.

Being with his husband on the delivery table, Son was in tears and choking, closing his eyes and praying for the best.

About 15 minutes later, a healthy baby boy - Nguyen Ngo Tuan Tu - was born, weighing 2.9kg. Son breathed a sign of relief knowing the delivery was successful.

"After the surgery, I woke up to find my baby boy, some fresh flowers, and a watch that I had been wanting. It was so surreal; I couldn’t believe I just gave birth to a baby," Quyen said.

Quyen had become only the fourth Vietnamese transgender man in history to complete a childbirth.

Three days after childbirth, the couple returned home and began learning about childcare. Despite the pain from the C-section, Quyen helped with household chores and cared for their infant son.

The couple struggled to adapt to their new responsibilities, like feeding the baby and getting him to sleep. Due to the rigorous nursing schedule and Son having to work all day, Quyen barely got enough sleep. At times, the stressed-out new parent would rest his head on Son’s shoulder, asking to be pampered like a small child.

"Seeing Quyen no longer masculine like before made me love him even more," said Son.

Quyen’s mother, Doan Thi Anh, expressed her joy at the birth of her grandchild. She said there has been so much more laughter in the family ever since the baby was born.

Quyen also started to open up more to his mother after getting married; whenever the couple had any problems, they would come to her for advice.

Ngo Quyen and Hong Son sharing baby care duties, February 2024. Photo courtesy of Quyen

Ngo Quyen and Hong Son sharing baby care duties, February 2024. Photo courtesy of Quyen

The story of Quyen and Son has captivated millions of people, from how they met to their wedding, as well as the pregnancy journey. Early on, the couple often had to explain how Quyen could get pregnant despite looking like a man.

Photos and videos of Quyen as a chubby pregnant man touched the hearts of many social media users. One user wrote: "So many miracles are around us. The love you two share is really admirable."

The baby boy is now two months old, and both Quyen and Son have learned to embrace their new roles as parents. They work hard to juggle their online business and childcare.

"I miss my little boy every time I am not home. He is a great blessing to us," Quyen said.

"When my son grows up, I hope he will find a lot of happiness, just as we have."

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