My age and the financial and emotional impacts of my partner’s Blackness and transness mean our options keep shrinking.

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Illustration by Alyssa Kiefer

For most of my life, I have viewed childbirth as a patriarchal rite of passage worth resisting. However, that journey took an unexpected detour since meeting the one man with whom I would want to raise children, given how his integrity and compassion would support the kind of parenting to which I aspire.

Unfortunately, I have yet to read an article on infertility that delves into how complicated this desire to have a child gets when one’s partner is Black, and trans, in light of the often traumatic experience of surviving this anti-Black, transphobic, bigoted society. While I would not trade a second with this human for any reason, experiencing this reality with him has been illuminating.

Especially as a brown woman, I have received unsolicited feedback for decades that I am getting older and should seriously think about starting a family. As the half of the couple who would attempt to carry what would now be considered a geriatric pregnancy to term, infertility increases as a worry with each passing day for me.

On one of our early dates, when it still felt as if nothing was out of reach for our dew-fresh love, I remember my thrill over our mutual interest and understandings of raising children. Alongside this was surprise that this discussion was already on our lips, as I cautioned myself against getting my hopes up about us.

In stark contrast to back then, I am now managing debt that exceeds the total of the student loans I had repaid, due to financially supporting my more marginalized partner. This alone makes a future that includes pregnancy feel impossible for me.

As a racialized woman, I am familiar with the reality of job insecurity. My experience and expertise often get erased by negative perceptions of me from white folx, whose mere discomfort usually has the power to deem me less than a good fit for their professional opportunities. My own worries about financial stability expanded over time, as I came to understand the additional barriers posed by being Black and trans in this society.

Before meeting my partner, I am ashamed to say that I had not thought nearly as critically about the expenses that are often associated with the trans experience.

The costs for such necessities as prosthetic packers, personal training for dysphoria, CBD for pain management and sleep, gender-affirming surgery, legal changes to personal identification, and culturally competent therapy are high, but they are essential to physical and mental wellness.

Unfortunately, thanks to the far reaches of systemic oppression, despite his best efforts, my partner has had difficulty obtaining and maintaining sustainable employment in the body he inhabits through no fault of his own.

Had the world that we were led to believe existed, when growing up as racialized children of immigrant parents who pushed us to work hard towards achieving professional success and financial stability, this would not be our reality.

Instead, I work multiple jobs that do not demand physical labor, while he navigates shift work that includes manual labor regularly.

In this way, as the partner with more privilege, I feel an ethical responsibility to bear the brunt of costs that he cannot manage, given how this very problematic status quo is why my better credit even affords me to qualify for such extensive debt.

Unfortunately, it never quite is the right time to explore the topic of what feels like my own ticking time bomb of a reproductive system.

It would not have been ideal when my dysphoric partner resorted to accruing thousands of dollars in credit card debt for the lifesaving decision to pursue top surgery in the past, as a direct consequence of inadequate trans care.

Nor does it feel like the time now, as he works towards going back to school to provide much needed culturally competent mental health support to folx who share his lived experience.

It certainly would not have been any more appropriate earlier when he finally managed to jump through enough hoops for his hysterectomy to finally be performed.

The time was not right even before that when he was mostly too depressed to work in a paid capacity and extremely distressed by unexpected physical touch triggering a trauma response.

My story may not be what comes to mind when folx think of infertility, but the Oxford Dictionary defines it as, the “inability to conceive children or young.” In this way, infertility undeniably applies to our narrative, when the costs of exploring pregnancy are prohibitive due to the unique barriers posed to an aging brown woman and her Black, trans partner.

Yet whenever I get asked why we have not already started a family, I have to bite my tongue. A reasonable explanation like what I have provided here would require me to out my trans partner, so instead I do my best to change the subject to any safer topic of discussion.

Instead, I hope for conversations that may not serve to question the very humanity of my partner with unsolicited, uninformed opinions. Instead, I sink into the submissive shell of personhood that has come to be expected of brown women, who smile and nod quietly, as if thankful for a much needed reminder of my ever decreasing odds of pregnancy while internally managing the reality of our daily survival of oppression.

The worst part of all this has been the growing realization that I am the most evolved I have ever been in my understanding of personhood given how critically I have had to think about factors such as gender and race in the context of my relationship. Experiencing these trials and tribulations with my partner has also increased my compassion for folx.

I recognize others may be facing challenges, of which I may lack any remote awareness. This bodes well for gentle parenting in a world that disproportionately harms some more than others.

In this twist of fate, I am finally prepared to be the least judgmental version of myself as a parent, yet my odds of doing so biologically manage to decrease with every passing day in partnership with the love of my life.

For this reason, I hope that readers regularly recall my story and it gives them pause. Ideally, it reminds them to refrain from asking deeply personal questions of others, with this understanding of how transparency may further jeopardize the already harsh realities of more marginalized loved ones.

Priya Nandoo is the pen name for a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous.