She hopes it’ll help doctors develop a protocol for uterine transplants.
The mother of a transgender son says she’s donated her uterus to scientists at Baylor University in Texas, so that they can use it to help perfect a “uterine transplant” protocol that would allow male-to-female transgender individuals bear children.
Silvia Park told Cosmopolitan magazine that she received a “crash course” in gender when, at age 16, her son — then her daughter — told her he was suffering from gender dysphoria. “[W]atching and standing in solidarity with him through his transition made her realize her uterus might be able to help a transgender woman,” the Daily Mail reports.
She describes herself as a dedicated LGBTQ+ ally.
There has been only one successful uterine transplant, performed for a “cis-gender” woman born without a uterus of her own in 2014. The risk of infection with uterine transplants is high, and pregnancy can send those infection rates even higher. Uterine transplant recipients are also at high risk for cancer.
While male-to-female transgender individuals can and do receive gender reassignment surgeries, those are currently limited to breast and genitalia only; the uterine transplant is unavailable as part of gender reassignment (though female-to-male transgender individuals have been known to keep their uteruses, hence stories about “men” giving birth).
Park’s uterus was ultimately transplanted into a cis-gender woman, but she hopes that the Baylor researchers can use her uterus to study ways they might be able to help these transgender “women” have children in the future.
“I thought, maybe this kind of procedure could help transgender women—people who transition from a male birth assignment—carry their own children,” Park told Cosmopolitan magazine.
The medical need, however, is miniscule. According to a University of California, Los Angeles study, via the Daily Mail, only around 0.7% of U.S. teenagers are authentically transgender. Around 3% of 11th graders, according to a similar story, express some form of gender dysphoria, but could be either transgender or gender non-conforming.