Trans Bodies, Trans Choices: Having a Baby – IG Live Replay

On March 17th, 2022, at 7PM ET, the @translashmedia Instagram hosted a special #TransBodiesTransChoices film series IG Live: Having a Baby, featuring Kayden Coleman @kaydenxofficial. Watch Having a Baby below and access the full transcript, along with more resources. Imara Jones was joined by Kayden Coleman @kaydenxofficial for a conversation you don’t want to miss.

Black and brown transgender and gender non-conforming people have been giving birth for decades, however the media tends to focus on white transgender pregnancies and report on them in a way that doesn’t acknowledge how white privilege (or lack of) impacts that experience.

Transgender Parents Deserve Trans-Affirming Care

A 2019 LGBTQ Family Building Survey conducted by Family Equality found that 63 percent of queer and trans people between the ages of 18 and 35 were thinking about expanding their families. And while we know Black and brown trans and gender non-conforming people are giving birth, we will never know the true number; for safety reasons, some Black and brown trans people are not out as trans during their pregnancy and/or will never come out as trans.

Lack of representation in the media doesn’t mean that Black and brown transgender pregnant people don’t exist; Kayden and others are proof of that. But we still have a long way to go.

“Pregnancy literature is geared towards white, heterosexual, cisgender people,” said Ray Rachlin, a certified professional midwife and founder of Refuge Midwifery in Philadelphia, in a TODAY interview. “That’s who all the images are geared towards and the resources geared towards. From the get-go, they’re having to hack a system that wasn’t set up for their needs.”

Just as bad: treating trans people in medical settings still isn’t taught in most medical school or midwifery schools. Trystan Reese, a white transgender man, transitioned in his early 20s and the endocrinologist managing his testosterone therapy informed him that he would become infertile and never be able to carry a child — that the testosterone would render his uterus “uninhabitable.” In his 30s, Reese carried and birthed a healthy baby in 2017.

Transgender Pregnancy: Affirming Representation Matters

Even when reporting on BIPOC transgender pregnant people, the media tends to bandwagon with similar coverage whenever a trans person carries a pregnancy in the public eye, treating that individual like a circus freak. Thomas Trace Beatie, a mixed race trans man, is currently the top Google search result for “pregnant man” because of this problematic style of news coverage. And while media brands today are attempting to do more to frame transgender pregnancy in a positive light, the damage has already been done: exploitative, sensational news articles that dehumanize pregnant trans people for views and clicks continue to bury useful information in search results that would help transgender people seeking answers.

The only way this will change is if news organizations and media outlets intentionally transform the ways they report on pregnant transgender people, and through the creation of more pregnancy resources online designed specifically for trans people.

In that spirit, we at TransLash hosted our Having a Baby IG Live and created this resource to help answer these questions:

  • What are the similarities — and the differences — between white and non-white transgender people who experience pregnancy?
  • What what does it mean to navigate the world as one of the few Black transgender men to carry and give birth to two children, in a very public way?
  • What can we learn from Black trans men who experience pregnancy?

Kayden Coleman Bio

Kayden Coleman is a 35-year-old Black transgender man who has carried and given birth to two daughters. He is one of very few Black transgender men who have done so publicly. Kayden gained public attention when his 1st pregnancy story went viral in 2015, following an article published in a popular UK based newspaper. He then gained attention again when a political figure used his images/videos as a pillar of hate towards the trans community – two days after giving birth to his 2nd daughter. Since then, Kayden has dedicated his life to advocating for transgender people in medical spaces. He hopes that through education he can assist in erasing the trauma and disparities that trans people face when seeking medical care.

ICYMI: Watch the first film in our Trans Bodies, Trans Choices series, My Abortion Saved My Life, and explore our guide for trans dads and TGNC parents

Trans Bodies, Trans Choices: Having a Baby Transcript

Imara Jones: Hey, how are you? 

Kayden Coleman: Hey, I’m good, how are you? 

Imara Jones:  Look at us, look at us, being Black people right on time one time right. Um, I’m having a little failure here, I’ll be right back. Whoa, okay, that’s quite a way to begin. How are you? 

Kayden Coleman: I’m tired. 

Imara Jones: You’re tired, that that’s a very honest place to start. Why are you tired? 

Kayden Coleman: Um, I’ve been up since early running around getting stuff done, just got back in the house from picking up and dropping off my kid and my partner, and so now I had to run here I still got to cook dinner and I still have a whole night after this, so, yeah, I’m tired.

Imara Jones: What are you cooking for dinner? 

Kayden Coleman: Um, shrimp and sausage alfredo… Italian sausage.

Imara Jones: Oh, okay, well, 

Kayden Coleman: yeah – Cajun, Cajun, let me fix that: it’s Cajun so it’s a different thing.

Imara Jones: It’s Cajun, it’s it’s Cajun. 

It sounds, it sounds good – I’m, you know I’m I’m open to an invitation so, um,

Kayden Coleman: You’ve got one! 

Imara Jones: Sounds good, sounds good to me. 

Um, thank you so much for joining tonight, um, and thank you for first of all just all the work that you do, I’m sure that everyone who is joining knows that you are an educator and an advocate for reproductive justice for trans people, um, specifically when it comes to fertility and having a baby and expanding conversations and choices around trans men and trans masculinity, and none of that is easy work.

Um, and you have not had an easy time of it — you’ve been targeted by the right wing, you have been misgendered, belittled, um, you know even had uncomfortable, um moments in our own community.

So I just wanted to start out by by thanking you for your work and everything

Kayden Coleman: I appreciate that

Imara Jones: that you do. 

Kayden Coleman: Thank you very much, I appreciate that. 

Imara Jones: Definitely, definitely. 

Um, so this conversation is a part of the conversation that we’re doing all month at TransLash called #TransBodiesTransChoices, um and basically trying to spotlight the fact that reproductive justice is really important to our community, um grounded in these films that we’re doing around abortion, but it’s so much larger than that for us.

It is about um you know trans women wanting to have um and preserve uh fertility and reproductive choices same thing with people who are trans men, and then trying to navigate a system that is often hostile to our very existence as we create life — which you now know not once, but twice, um and just trying to get people who know us and know our bodies. And so I thought that was you know there’s no better person to talk to about those things um than you but before we get into all that heavy stuff I do want to start out with one light thing that i saw from your Instagram — another person who had a baby that you were recently very close to was Cardi B

Kayden Coleman: YES!

Imara Jones: and yeah I just wanted to know, like, I don’t understand how you maintained your composure,

Kayden Coleman: I don’t, I don’t know

Imara Jones: How did you not run up to her and shout?

Kayden Coleman: Um, so um, we were in TSA and, honestly, at first I didn’t know it was her. 

I had an attitude because I was like because they we were in TSA and of course they were in their own little VIP line, I’m like who the hell are they and then my partner goes “Is that Cardi B,” and I was like “It is,” and so we’re both standing there in shock and she looked me clean in the eyes, and I was like “did that just happen,” but I was like first of all my daughter was having her own moment — she didn’t care about Cardi B, um, but I, like, part of me – I wanted to wave in retrospect — I look at it, I look back and I’m like “I failed, I really should have at least like waved or something,” but I didn’t I just picked up I took out my camera and took some discreet pictures because you could tell that she wasn’t interested in like having a bunch of attention. Like, she didn’t even want to pull down like she pulled out her mask for TSA and was like really quick about it.

And I was like I’m not about to do that because there was a lot of people there, and I know if it was me, I would be like “Why would you now why would you do that,” so people noticed. There were people around like there was like a couple of people that noticed but we all just kind of like [exhales]

It was hard, though, because it was like it’s Cardi B and mind you, just FYI, she’s tiny. She’s so small — she doesn’t look she doesn’t look like that, right, in her videos, no she is tiny, like, five two or she was really and she had on like plat- anyway, I can go on all night about that.

But, yes, I don’t know how I maintained my composure is where I’m at, and we talk every time she comes on the radio my partner and I are like “She’s just so tiny,” we can’t believe it. We’ll probably get over it. Maybe not, but, whatever.

Imara Jones: I would have never been able to maintain my composure around Cardi B. Um, but then she probably would, you know, like, she she she can throw hands

Kayden Coleman: Yeah, exactly!

Imara Jones: so it probably was better, you know, right, it was probably better. 

Kayden Coleman: I didn’t feel like getting cursed out. 

Imara Jones: Exactly, yeah. 

Um, so you have you have had kids as a trans masculine person not once, but twice, um, and you had a second child despite all of the attention and knots that you got from conservative media, and just backlash overall, and I’m just wondering how you had the the courage to be able to do that, um, despite knowing what you were up against in terms of the world and even the medical establishment. Like, because I think that often like what drives us as human beings are hope and other really positive things that we don’t get a chance to talk about, so I just wanted to start out with that conversation first.

Kayden Coleman: Um, to be, if I’m being a thousand percent transparent, when I did find out that I was pregnant again, um, my first thought was to go to the abortion clinic… I’m not gonna lie to you, because I, my first thing was that I did not want to go through that again. Um, my biggest fear was having the severe um postpartum depression and ptsd and anxiety that I went through. Um, I really didn’t want to do that. But, I also had to consider my partner in the in the situation like, I, I, you know had to, um, consider the fact that this is not just my child. I didn’t, like, immaculately conceive this child.

Um, so I sat him down and we had a whole conversation about it, and I let him know what I would need as far as support — um, this was right before covid — so, like, for me my whole thing was I need to get a haircut every week so that I can feel cute, I was like when the summer hits I need to be on somebody’s beach, and, um, I need a doula. Those are my three things.

Um, I got none of those because covid said “PSYCH!” um but that’s kind of what helped me to know that I had that, um, at least he was willing to give that support or make that happen.

Um, I mean, we did we made do. Um, I had a lot of doula support, um, virtually, um, and we did end up on a beach, uh, in New York City, which is is it really a beach?

Imara Jones: Um, yes. 

Kayden Coleman: But, I mean, uh, it was beach-ish. Um, and New York City and Atlantic City both have those beach flies that bite, which takes away the joy, um, but it was still a beach, so I was happy about that, and I got to, you know, hone in my practice on cutting my own hair, uh, during the pandemic.

Um, other than that, like, as far as like the public and the right wingers and all those people, um, from my first “viral” situation, um, I just grew really thick skin and learned how to just ignore things.

Like I realized that like the most detrimental thing you can do is go into the comment sections or look for those comments, so I don’t look for them, I don’t welcome them, and I put things in place to make sure that if you want to be hateful towards me you’re going to have to jump through hoops to get here.

Um, so I just put certain protections in place and, you know, from the community, I just learned to accept that that was going to happen. Um, I can’t control anybody. I can’t control anybody and I’m not here to control anybody, and I say this all the time: my biggest motto in life is “I didn’t step outside of a box just to step into another one,” so I’m not about to hide myself or anything like that. I mean I respect anybody who wants to, or feels the need to, for their own safety purposes, but, for me, I like to share my joyous events and, I mean, it’s creating life, so I feel like that was something that I wanted to share again.

Imara Jones: Lots of people don’t understand and, excuse me, what I’m wondering if you can talk about this, is that the fact that, like, masculinity doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to certain sexual organs,

Kayden Coleman: Right, exactly,

Imara Jones:  and that there’s a even amongst trans men there’s a wide array of things that make you feel dysphoric, like, not everyone gets triggered and dysphoria in the same way, and that for certain people and it seems for you that, like being pregnant is not a part of your — doesn’t seem to under — to take away from your sense of being a man or trigger you in a way that is dysphoric, and I’m wondering if we can talk about that, because so many times we get caught in a one-size-fits-all approach to our bodies, and our identities, um which you clearly don’t have.

Kayden Coleman: Um, I don’t um, I – the only I – I’ve never I didn’t experience, like, extreme dysphoria, uh, body dysphoria like a lot of people do. Um, and um, only real dysphoria I had was around my chest. Once I had top surgery I didn’t have any more plans to get any surgeries except for a BBL which is still on the way. But, um, I, uh, honestly for me, when I came out as gay, and, well let’s backtrack just a smidge — when I first started transitioning, I’ll never forget — my best friend, we were standing in Wal-mart, and I had my hands on my hips, and he was like “Take your hands off your hips. Nobody will ever respect you as a man,” and I was like “Okay. I’m not going — I didn’t subscribe to the idea that because now I’m on hormones and because now I’m passing that I had to be someone different, when I know for a fact that feminine men exist. Gay men, cisgender gay men are feminine, and nobody’s like “Hm, is that a woman?” No! Their manhood is not centered — that — nobody questions their manhood because they’re feminine. Um, I’ve always felt very comfortable in my manhood.

Um, I had dabbled with the idea of having bottom surgery, and I realized that bottom surgery for me was more about fulfilling a societal, um, expectation rather than what I actually wanted as far as what is there aesthetically and, you know, that that that would please me, uh, sexually, being honest. Um, and you know, I came full circle with my identity and decided that I can be whatever kind of man that I want to be. Um, and that’s just that like I will not allow anyone to try to tell me that I’m not a man because I don’t want surgery or because I have sex a certain type of way or because I’ve had kids… because every day I walk into — outside as a man. Every night I go to sleep as a man. Every morning I wake up as a man. My kids call me “dad” and “daddy” and my pronouns are he/him so if you want to fight we can but… you don’t so let’s just move on. That’s just, right, that’s how I feel about it, like it’s not up for debate. Um, it took me a long time to get here, though. I don’t want people to think that I just, I just woke up and I was like “I’m just so comfortable,” it took a lot. I went through a lot. I was bullied, I cried, I felt unsafe, I felt isolated, um it just was a lot of building up that tough skin for me.

Imara Jones: Yeah, no, I think it’s important because, like, the journey between, like, what feels right for our identities and what feels right for our bodies — it’s not the same for everyone, and it is going to be a journey, and I think it’s just really important for people to think about that because that’s one of the things that people even in our own community can get hung up on is that our bodies have to be a certain thing.

And, yeah, you know there are lots of, I mean, the whole point of being trans is about an expansion of identity and an expansion of choices, right, why are we trying to be the same as cis people? Like, that doesn’t make any sense, like we didn’t get free just to be like them, or at least I didn’t. I don’t know –

Kayden Coleman: Exactly, that’s that’s why — I did not step out of one box to step into another. I refuse, like, I refuse and I think a lot of what the pushback comes from is that there’s these people within the community that feel that if you are not subscribing to societal norms or to the binary idea of what a man is, you’re somehow taking away from the identity of trans masculine people or trans feminine people. Um, and that is one, like, what? That’s such a crab in the barrel mentality, I never understood. Um, but it, it literally makes no sense because at the end of the day, one thing we can all know is that society as a whole will always view us as abnormal, as an or an anomaly. We will always be an other until we’re not, so trying to condemn or force, um, somebody else to fit into societal norms because it might help you somehow be more accepted by cis people is just strange to me. Like, it’s a weird flex. I don’t know.

Imara Jones: Yeah, yeah. It doesn’t — it’s, it’s it’s a lot. 

Kayden Coleman: Yeah. 

Imara Jones: So, you all made this decision together, you’re going to have your second child, whose name, I believe, is Journey.

Kayden Coleman: Yes. 

Imara Jones: You’re going to move forward, um, in that way, and you have all this support, and then you have to go into a medical establishment that’s literally not ready for you, right, that’s not ready for who you are as a person at the intersections of gender identity and race and as a person who is caring and going to give birth.

And I’m wondering if you can just talk a little bit about some of the experiences that you stand out and were kind of the most shocking for you in terms of dealing with the medical establishment and, and, trying to navigate that as a trans masculine person.

Kayden Coleman: Um, sure. Like, I can’t say that anything was necessarily shocking the second go around. Um, I went in expecting. I went in armed. I went in prepared to defend myself I knew I would have to. Um, what made it a little frustrating for me though was that I vetted, you know, this time I had a little bit more time, right, so I vetted different OB-GYNs trying to find one that was at least slightly trans-competent, and I thought I found one… Come to find out the only person in the establishment that was actually trans-competent wasn’t even the provider — she was the the administrator, you know the person who does the scheduling and things of that nature. She was the only one that understood which was strange as hell to me, um, but it was, that she was like my little comfort in in the storm if that makes sense. Um, one of the things that did stick out to me that did not happen with my first pregnancy was, um, I was in the hospital because, for two weeks, actually, because my blood pressure was so high, um, and they were trying to get it down, um, because it was too early for me to have my daughter. She came early anyway, but it was too early at that point, um, and there was this older Asian lady that needed to come in and take my blood, you know, they did blood work regularly, and, um, she walks in and when she walked in she kind of like hesitated, you know, like, when you walk into a room and you’re like “wait is this the room I’m supposed to be in,” she did that, right, but she kept walking, and she came over to the bedside and went to go, like, do the tourniquet, and her hands were, like, violently shaking like she was nervous, and I’m sitting here and I’m looking at her and I’m like “okay” and she’s like “I can’t find a vein,” and I have a very, like, you can see the vein. Gonna have to excuse my French, I calmly, I was like hold on one second, I pushed the button, they were like “Yes, Mr. Coleman,” I said “You need to get this lady the fuck out of here,” and they were like “What’s going on,” I was like “If my presence makes her this uncomfortable she can go,” um, I think for her it was very strange to be on the labor delivery unit and see a man laying in the bed, but I think more so what made it even worse for her was that there was a Black man laying in the bed.

I have a strange feeling that if I was white she probably wouldn’t have been so nervous, but she just didn’t know what to do with herself. And that one caught me off guard, like it that was one of the things that caught me off guard, umm, the only other thing that I recall that really was like what was when I went to, um, I was in a high risk perinatal doctor and my first time going there after being referred, um, I walked in and I’m like “Hey, my name’s Kayden, um, I have an appointment at two o’clock, you do my information,” and she’s like “Sir, uh, are you here for blood work, for employment,” and I was like “No,” she was like “Is your wife here,” and I’m like “no,” I’m like “my appointment’s at two do you need my information,” and she was like “Sir, um, there’s no way you have an appointment here because this is the women’s only facility,” and I was like “okay, but do you need my information,” and she took my information and was, like, and just, like, signed me in and never apologized for telling me I didn’t belong there or anything like that. She straight up told me, like, “You can’t be here,” um, there was a lot of that, um, throughout my pregnancy. Covid made it really strange because things were changing so often I didn’t really get to see the same people over and over again so nobody really got a chance to get used to me.

Imara Jones: Yeah and I think that, you know, one really key thing in all of this is how, like, being trans is on top of all of these other things that we know that are going on in the medical establishment — so we know that, like, doctors don’t listen to Black people at all, right, and we know that, like, especially in birthing when it comes to like cis Black women, cis Black women die at these amazing rates because of racism, and then on top of that to them be trans right it must feel like it must feel like you’re running through an obstacle course just to make sure that you you’re safe and that your baby can be safe.

Kayden Coleman: Yes, um, it was it was difficult and they would always be like why is your blood pressure so high. “I don’t know, you tell me, because I, I, have to come in here and I have to worry about being misgendered and I have to come in here and you tell me that I’m high risk but you can’t tell me why and really the only reason why I’m high risk is because I’m trans, and you don’t know what to do with me. Um, and you’re, you know, you’re looking at me your default is to call me mom and mommy.” Um, I had one ultrasound tech calling me “mom” and “mommy” and I was so exhausted that day I just kind of let her. I was just like “whatever” but then my partner came in with me and this was covid so it was, like, special because he only got to come in with me because we had to do some genetic counseling because I had the sickle cell trait and, um, I got him, I was like “Please let him come in,” and I told the lady, I was like “Hey, listen, umm last time you were here, I was here, you were using these pronouns I just want you to know I’m trans, my pronouns are he/him and can we refrain from using ‘mom’ and ‘mommy’ terms,” and that lady looked at me and said “Well how about we just don’t say anything at all,” and said did the whole ultrasound in silence. And you wonder why my blood pressure’s high… like, those are the things that I had to, that I had to go through. Um, beyond being offered abortions at just about every visit like, it was frustrating. It was really frustrating.

Imara Jones: So, you go to, so, you go to, you would go to get, like, ultrasounds, and you go to doctors, and they may be like “Don’t you want an abortion?”

Kayden Coleman: Yeah, any any any and for any reason. 

So, for example, me having a sickle cell trait — this was, we were six months in — way too late to get an abortion. So when they had me come in I was like “Well, this isn’t my first child, and I had the sickle cell trait then,” so I’m confused as to why we needed… like it seemed it felt like an intervention. I was like “Why, is there something new? I mean, what, it has been seven years is there something new that I didn’t know about,” and that man looked at me and said “Well, I just want you to know that abortion is an option,” and I was, like, at six months — it was so my my partner was so — he was like, “Okay, I’ve had enough of this. Why did they keep offering you abortions?” I was like “I have no clue,” and I had to that at that appointment I had to let him know, like, “Listen, I do not want an abortion. I never came in here and even alluded to the fact that I wanted an abortion, so I’m confused as to why you keep asking me you want me to get an abortion at the off chance that my child might have sickle cell anemia,” … what? But, we know that’s not the reason they just don’t want trans people to have kids.

Imara Jones: Yeah, so many people are commenting right now, and are totally blown away by that topic. And one person just said yeah they’re gonna try to couch it as concerned but they — the reality is that like, they just don’t, I mean you know, just trying to not get you to have your kid when that’s your your choice. Um someone just said — Amanda Dank — “anger and sadness, cumulative listening, thank you so much for sharing and I’m so sorry about this whole experience.” Um, one of the things you’ve done is to take all of that insanity, like, it’s literally insane what you’re describing, like, first of all, I don’t know how you didn’t go, I don’t know how you kept it together, because that’s a lot. Um, um, I mean, like, was Dominique, like, rubbing your feet at night and stuff — I don’t know, we need to like, get their secrets for supporting you or whatever.

Kayden Coleman: Um, he just he couldn’t be in there so except for that one time. So, beyond the one time, um, it was always like an after conversation. So, all he could really do was kind of, like, offer me support and be like, you know, what can we do, like, and that’s why, you know, he made sure he took me to the beach or he would cook, you know — I was HUNGRY — and you know you know taking care of the dog and the cat — we had three cats, or two cats, at the time, like, he would do stuff like that to kind of, just, like, help me keep the load, off, um, I mean, because it wasn’t much he could do in that vein, like, you know.

Imara Jones: One of the things that I am curious about is how you take you, you took all that and you actually turned it into a part of your mission and your life’s work where you go now and talk to medical providers — hopefully at a cost, hopefully you’re charging — um, like, to educate medical providers on how to provide trans-competent care, and I’m wondering one what do you tell them, like, what is what are some of the main things that you tell them, and, secondly, what are some of the things that, so far they just don’t get, like, when you go in and you’re like “Still,” like I, you know?

Kayden Coleman: Um, so what I honestly, what I do is I provide them with the education, right? So, I give them, um baseline education and the facts — the actual facts and not — because what I’ve learned working in this field is that, um, doctors treat trans people based off of what they’ve heard, and not what they know.

Imara Jones: Oh, wow. 

Kayden Coleman: I’ve learned that from a lot of different spaces, um, so I teach them the actual facts surrounding trans masculine, um, pregnancy, and I just basically teach them how to create safe equitable spaces for trans people, and why it’s important.

Um, I teach them to use the correct verbiage, I treat, I teach them how to be inclusive, um, what they don’t get is most of them don’t get anything, honestly. They don’t have a lot of — people do not have even the baseline education. I’m talking Trans 101 — when it comes to trans people, and that’s where you start, that’s where you have to start, so, what am I telling them I’m basically telling them that “Hey,” I really enjoy this part I really tell them that “Hey, you guys are really fucking up here — you’re dropping the ball. You’re causing trauma and you need to stop here’s where you have us messed up at, here’s how you fix it, and I don’t want you to just only take this one training — you need to be paying trans people constantly to remain educated so that we do not have to suffer at your hands.”

Imara Jones: That’s right. Yeah, exactly exactly exactly and, like, their number one rule as doctors or, part of their creed, is “do no harm,” and you just detailed ways in which you were repeatedly harmed by people in the establishment, um, in the medical establishment.

Um, you know, and it underscores why there’s a — there’s a friend of mine who is trans and they were like “I haven’t gone to an OB-GYN in 10 years and I don’t know when I’m gonna go because I cannot subject myself to this particular type of harm, like even the idea that I could be harmed and if it happens like I don’t know what I would be able to do,” and you’re just describing to us like how that happens.

Kayden Coleman: Yeah, it takes a special type of, I tell and that’s another thing, I tell them, I’m like “You guys have to understand that there’s a lot of us that would choose to be ill or have the possibility of be ill rather than come see you and your job is to care for us.”

Imara Jones: That’s right. 

That’s speaking volumes — that’s letting you know — I spend a lot of time making them feel bad about themselves. Why? Because I spent a lot of time feeling bad about myself every time I have to go in there because I go in, we go into these spaces expecting care and, I can go in and, for example, I went into urgent care, um, for UTI… scratch that I have a better one: I was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma in November.

Imara Jones: Oh my gosh. 

Kayden Coleman: Went into the, um, to the urologist and the man spent the entire the entire appointment asking me if I was going to get bottom surgery, and I’m just wondering what a penis has to do with my kidney? I don’t know.

We spend so much time talking about our transness in spaces that have nothing to do with our transness. We spend so much time at these appointments educating people or trying to advocate for ourselves, but not everybody’s me. That’s why I do this — because not everybody’s me. Not everybody’s gonna be like “all right, actually I’m gonna need for you to get this together.” A lot of people sit back and they’re just getting beat up and these verbally beat up in these appointments because they don’t have the wherewithal or they don’t feel confident enough, or a lot of people think these doctors are the authority — they are not — you are, but neither here nor there. Um, they feel like they’ll get in trouble or something to that effect for standing up for themselves. So, am I going to go into a space that’s going to make me feel that way I’m already stressed before I walk in the door for what?

Imara Jones: Yeah I mean I the only thing that I can think of that’s even equivalent for me — it’s not even equivalent — because, I mean, what you’re describing is just, like, beyond but, like how many times I’ve gone to, like, if I’ve gone to the emergency room, I’ve ever gone to doctors and I just had random pregnancy tests run on me without my permission, which is a violation in so many different ways, and it’s happened more than once, um, and, um, and all the times, like I’ll walk, yeah it’s it’s there’s a lot of insanity when it comes to our bodies and who we are in the in the medical establishment.

Kayden Coleman: And then on the flip side, as a trans masculine person, when I go into the doctor’s office and they know that I’m trans, they’re not giving me pregnancy tests, right, which is why I didn’t find out about my first pregnancy until I was five and a half months, and I was in the, I was in the doctor’s office because I knew something was wrong I knew something was wrong. I was in that doctor’s office every month, sometimes a couple times a week, and nobody, and I want to point out this is very, very important: I went to an LGBT clinic as my primary care and my doctor was a trans man.

Imara Jones: You know, and it just underscored that entire point that you just made. 

Underscores that, like, it’s not individual, right, it’s not about the individual people that are involved in the system — it’s literally about the way that people are educated and the way they come out thinking, right, they’re not programmed in a certain way, right, they’d literally come out and and you can be programmed to think a certain way regardless of who you are, right, because that’s not about that you didn’t go to a place that was LGBTQ hostile, or that you didn’t have a trans doctor or any of the things that you’re talking about — it’s just literally the fact that, like, if they’ve gone through medical school if they’ve gone through the medical establishment they’re programmed to think in a certain way and that certain way means that they’re going to be hostile to our bodies.

Kayden Coleman: Exactly. 

Imara Jones: That’s a this is this is very very real a lot of people are expressing appreciation for what you’re what you’re sharing, um, so as we wrap up, because you have to go make your dinner, you gotta go cook,

Kayden Coleman: I do… 

Imara Jones: I’m wondering two two things. Why do you think it’s really important for people to understand that, like, we deserve body autonomy, just like everybody else, and that our bodies matter? That’s the that’s the one, one question, like, why do why do why do our bodies matter, and why should people care, and then secondly, as you confront this latest health challenge that you just described to us, um, this this um, carcinoma, you know, with everything else that you’re talking about, this is another thing that you have to navigate in the system, and I’m just wondering how that’s weighing on you, and, of course I know we’re all sending you the best as you navigate that.

Kayden Coleman: Um, well it’s important, um, because it’s it’s it’s it’s life or death. It is it’s literally life or death. Um, um, a lot of the times, what a lot of the comments that I get, from, like, cisgender people, is that, well you know “Only x amount of people are trans so why do you guys expect everybody to,” and I’m like “That doesn’t make an ounce of sense. That doesn’t make an ounce of sense.” There’s only a certain group of people, there’s only a certain percentage of people that are afflicted with certain illnesses or whatever and doctors are still expected to be competent in those spaces they’re still trained in those spaces. Why? Because it’s necessary to be able to care for a person and their body in that space. A trans person also deserves that type of care, that type of training, because I should be able to walk into an office and not have to fight for equitable care when I’m already battling cancer or whatever illness I may have, you know what I mean? I should be able to walk into an office and feel confident that my doctor knows how to care for my body.

Imara Jones: That’s right. 

Kayden Coleman: It’s just as simple as that, um, for as far as this diagnosis and weighing on me, um, I have I have garnered the ability to just do it, like, I can’t even lie to you. I don’t have a secret. I don’t, um, I just take everything as I take it, so, with the doctor that I just, umm described to you guys, um, I called and I was like no not him anyone but him at this point.

Um, I decided that this was my journey, I’m gonna take it how I need to take it. Um, he was also one of those people that saw a Black person in front of them — saw a Black trans person in front of them — he talked to me like I was an idiot. Um, he didn’t even bother looking at like the MRI or anything like that — he asked me how I knew that I had cancer and I was like “I don’t fucking know you tell me, aren’t you the doctor? I’m confused. Isn’t that what I’m here for,” um, so you know, for me, I have, I, you know, this, this past year or so has just been, uh, um, a not so fun year for me health-wise, um, so at this point it’s just kind of like, routine. Like, I know that I need to go in, and I need I’m gonna need to tell 8,000 people that I’m trans, and but my pronouns are, I was I was assigned female at birth, but my pronouns are this, I you know I’ve had two kids but my pronouns are this, I’ve done this but this is what this is, and this is what this is, and you know, 20 minutes to an hour into the appointment now we can get to what we’re here for. I’m just used to that at this point… but I enjoy these moments because it helps me know which establishments need to pay me to be there.

Imara Jones: Well we hope that after tonight there’ll be more establishments that wish to pay you, um, because your experience, you’ve gone through it for a reason, it’s not only because of you, and I think this is why it’s so powerful what you do on Instagram, and what you and why your visibility and your voice and your stories are so powerful because people need to know and hear within our community that they’re not alone and people’s hearts and minds and the world need to be changed by hearing your experience and the way that, like, your fundamental humanity is challenged in a way that it should be for no one, and that that has to stop, and that’s essentially what you do through what you do, and I know that, um, I’m so incredibly grateful, and, um, your children are so lucky to have you as their dad.

Kayden Coleman: Aw, thank you. I think so I’m lucky to have them. They keep me grounded, um, they keep me sane, well I’m not sane, but they keep I’m here.

Imara Jones: You’re gonna be crazier because of them. 

Kayden Coleman: Yeah. I’m here and I’m broke, but I’m here. But, no, thank you. I really appreciate that.

That’s, um, very kind, um, I just for anyone who cares, um, I am working on, um, a training that can be self-led, self-guided training. I also offer hybrid trainings, um, if you follow me on Instagram, I always post when I have new trainings coming — I actually have one coming up in April, um, date to be determined because life is crazy right now, um, that I was offering — it was supposed to be in March, but, life has been crazy right now, so it is postponed, so if anybody wants to sign up they can, um, reach out to me on Instagram, um, I have posts on there and I will be sharing it again this upcoming week. Um, this is a very intensive comprehensive training — it is two days long, and we will not only be talking about transness and reproduction, we will also be talking about anti-racism, anti-Blackness, microaggressions, unconscious bias, etc etc etc.

Imara Jones: Amazing. So, when you when you launch that, make sure you tell us at TransLash and we’ll post it as well to make sure definitely that people can access it.

One last thing, you should let people know about, though, but maybe you’ve already raised the money for it, so you don’t need to, but aren’t you raising money for a children’s book, too?

Kayden Coleman: I actually raised — I, we actually over funded it. 

Imara Jones: Oh, okay so you don’t, it’s done!

Kayden Coleman: Yeah, it’s done, it’s the the kickstarter, is is um, done. Um, you know, if people still want to, because, I’m, my goal with this, the reason why I was raised so much, is to not have a middleman. Um, so it will be self-published — I will be printing it myself. Um, the bulk of that money actually is going towards the illustrator because illustrators are super expensive — who knew? Um, I didn’t! But, I found out!

Um, so, uh, I just did a baseline amount, um, but I do I’m not profiting from this book — that’s my point, I, my goal from this book was not to profit at all I really, just want the visibility out there. I will — I, there are no books that that, um, center Black trans masculine families, birthing people, there are no… anything that centers Black trans masculine — it’s just me! Hi, I’m here!

So, I think it’s important to have this type of book depicting young Black girls, um, Black men raising young girls, Black trans masculine person, me, um, and, so, yeah that’s you know it, uh, the goal is for it to be out by July. Um, I’m hearing a lot of things about covid, uh, delaying things tremendously, but I will keep everybody posted on my Instagram.

Imara Jones: Definitely, and one last point before we let you go, um, to feed your your your whole family, um, is that one person here, amandank said that they want to invite you to their university, um, and that it would be a paid gig, so can you just let people, before we sign off, let them, uh, let them know the best way to reach you?

Kayden Coleman: Um, Instagram, if you go to my Instagram, um, I have my linktree up there, that leads you to my website or you can just click the contact button — that’s gonna send you right to my email address. Please please please please do not DM me about anything business-wise — if I actually come across it, all I’m gonna do is tell you to email me, because my DMs are nuts and there’s no way there’s no way — I’m just now getting to DMs from, like, last year, so please do not DM, DM — me just email me, but all of my information is on my Instagram.

Imara Jones: Well, that’s the last word email — don’t DM. 

Kayden Coleman: Yes. 

Imara Jones: Um, and thank you so much. Sending you the best as you navigate the medical system with your latest diagnosis, 

Kayden Coleman: Yes, thank you

Imara Jones: um, and just, you gave us so many ways to be excited about your work and what’s coming and I know that we’re all excited for it, so have a great evening!

Kayden Coleman: Thank you, you too, thanks for having me. Bye everyone! 

Imara Jones: Thank you! Bye. Thank you all so much 

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