Transgender reproduction options

Trans people must think about their reproductive options before they start hormones or have surgery on their reproductive organs. Hormones and surgery can change their bodies so they can’t ever make children.

Some news stories about pregnant transgender people make it sound as if trans people can always have children after they start hormones. This is not true. Once you start hormones, you may not ever be able to make children even if you stop hormones.

WPATH’s Standards of Care version 7 states:

Because feminizing/masculinizing hormone therapy limits fertility, it is desirable for patients to make decisions concerning fertility before starting hormone therapy or undergoing surgery to remove/alter their reproductive organs. Cases are known of people who received hormone therapy and genital surgery and later regretted their inability to parent genetically related children. Health care professionals—including mental health professionals recommending hormone therapy or surgery, hormone-prescribing physicians, and surgeons—should discuss reproductive options with patients prior to initiation of these medical treatments for gender dysphoria. These discussions should occur even if patients are not interested in these issues at the time of treatment, which may be more common for younger patients.

International Journal of Transgenderism, 13(4), 165–232. doi:10.1080/15532739.2011.700873

You control your body

Your choice about having children that share your biology is a basic right. Only you can decide what is right for you. Whatever you choose, no one should use your choice to stop you from getting trans health services.


Pros and cons

Reasons to store genetic material:

  • If you might want biological children of your own in the future.
  • If your spouse or partner want biological children and is is worried about your taking hormones or getting surgery.
  • In the event of future scientific advances, such as ex vitro fertilization, gonadal transplants, etc.
  • If your partner may change over the course of your life.
  • To have fewer legal complications compared to adoption or surrogate parenting.

Potential problems:

  • Clinic visit fees and annual storage fees may not be worth it for you.
  • Some people’s genetic material is no longer viable after freezing. Some studies indicate this may affect one in ten people.
  • Your genetic material may not may be unable to reproduce, despite storing genetic material.

To find a clinic or cryobank

  • Ask your personal physician for a recommendation.
  • Ask your therapist for a recommendation.
  • Ask local support groups for a recommendation.
  • Most major hospitals (especially university hospitals) have an affiliated fertility clinic.

Not recommended: mail-in kits

Go to a local clinic. The home kits must be done exactly right in order not to kill the sperm. However, this might be an option for people who for whatever reason feel they cannot use a clinic.

Costs

If you have planned your transition carefully, and you find that this is a very important issue for you, it’s important to set aside that money and hold off on something else. After all, this is usually one of the irreversible parts of transition.

Usually there is a fee for each deposit, and it’s generally reported to be around $100-150. Mine was $120 for each of three sessions.

After your first session, they will be able to tell you how many doses they were able to extract from your sample, and many clinics will also do analysis to determine the viability and general health of the sample. After this, they will suggest a number of doses you will want to save for optimal results. For some, one trip will be enough, while for others, several may be required. Depending on how important this is to you, you may want to do more than they recommend to better your chances.

There is usually an annual storage fee as well, often around $200-400. Mine is $350. Costs can be considerably higher, though. A reader notes:

The bank I called recommended 5 deposits per perspective child (compared to ~3 for 2 children reported by another girl), and requested $700 lab fees + $300/deposit and $200/yr/deposit storage fee – so, for 5 deposits (their recommended value) it would be $2200 + $1000/yr. This was about 3x the cost others on your website reported, and as a student, I decided against it ultimately.

Tips and recommendations

  • The procedure is pretty straightforward: go into a room and masturbate into a sample cup. They often supply pornography, but I suppose you could bring your own arousal method.
  • They usually require no sexual activity for 24-72 hours. The longer you wait, the better.
  • Tight clothing and tucking can decrease sperm production. If possible, avoid tight clothing for a period of time prior to storage.
  • You are not allowed to use lube during the masturbation.
  • Notify a friend or relative that you’ve done this, and outline your wishes regarding stored sperm in a legally binding will.
  • Be sure to contact the storage facility after your legal name change to ensure your sample is not lost and you receive annual payment notifications.

See also

Transgender reproduction: first-hand reports

References

Desire to Have Children Among Transgender People in Germany: A Cross-Sectional Multi-Center Study https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.03.083

De Sutter, P., Verschoor, A., Hotimsky, A., & Kira, K. (2002). The desire to have children and the preservation of fertility in transsexual women: A survey. International Journal of Transgenderism, 6(3).

How do transsexual people cope with their wish for a child? by Paul De Sutter (2000) via GENDYS

Cryobank resources

For information only. No endorsements implied. Examples were selected for the quality of online information, not necessarily quality of service.

GenderPsychology (genderpsychology.org)

The Fairfax Cryobank (fairfaxcryobank.com)

  • Another typical private/commercial storage company.

International Cryogenics (internationalcryo.com)

  • Suggested by a reader.

London Women’s Clinic (londonwomensclinic.com)

  • UK clinic known for working with our community.