Ben Jones, a surgeon at Imperial and member of the Womb Transplant UK organisation is planning the first operations this year
Dr Richard Paulson former president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said, in an interview in “The Mirror”, he could think of no anatomical reason why a womb could not be successfully implanted into a transgender woman. He added: ‘You could do it tomorrow. There would be additional challenges, but I don’t see any obvious problem that would preclude it. ‘I personally suspect there are going to be trans women who are going to want to have a uterus and will likely get the transplant.’ (February 10, 2019)
Also a leading British plastic surgeon, Christopher Inglefield has called for transgender women to receive life changing womb transplants so they can have their own children. It follows the delivery of the world’s first baby from a womb transplant, see our Report.
These statemets are after a documentary series with a a brand new three-part which follows the extraordinary transformations of men and women from all over the UK, ‘Transformation Street’ TV Series – Jan 2018 Transformation Street, which follows the extraordinary transformations of womwn and men who believe they were born into the wrong body, as they approach and undergo the highs and lows of life-changing transgender surgery. In a episode Lucas starts to transition from female to male and undergoes surgery to have his breasts removed. Also Wendy, a railway worker, who has been counting down the days until her gender confirmation surgery. And 34-year-old Danni is at the beginning of the physical transition from male to female but doesn’t want to start dressing as a woman until she’s had surgery to make her face look more feminine.
Surgeon Christopher Inglefield believes transgender women deserve a uterus implant.
Currently there are no regulations in place to prevent trans women from receiving IVF if they do receive a transplant. Dr Inglefield says ‘harvesting’ the womb from the donor is tricky, as surgeons must ensure they do not damage arteries and veins to the uterus. However he claims the ‘plumbing in’ is a straight forward procedure, as vessels are connected to veins which are the same in both males and females. He said births would most likely be delivered by cesarean section in order to safeguard the child.
A recent article go further (The Daily Mail, Febraury 15, 2019) with the title British surgeons could be the first in the world to transplant a womb into a transgender woman who was born male. “Experts investigating whether the procedure is possible for those who have switched sex to female are convinced it is not only medically feasible but ethically justified.
Womb transplants, which cost £50,000 per operation, were developed to allow women to carry a baby if they were born without a womb or have had it removed through illness. Roughly 15,000 women in the UK could benefit.
Trans females have a narrower pelvis than women but there would still be room to carry a child
Writing in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the scientists said it would be perfectly possible to put a womb into a male body so that they could carry a baby to full-term. And they say it may be ‘legally and ethically impermissible’ not to consider performing the procedure. Read the study HERE.
Planning the first operations this year!
Ben Jones, a surgeon at Imperial and member of the Womb Transplant UK organisation which is planning the first operations this year, said a questionnaire of transgender women will help to determine ‘whether or not there is a desire to undergo this process’.
Several transgender men – those who were born women and then switched – have already given birth in the UK.
But in those circumstances it was merely a case of retaining the female reproductive organs after they transitioned, rather than having to implant female organs into a male body.
They write in the journal: ‘There is no overwhelming clinical argument against performing a womb transplant as part of gender reassignment surgery.”
Feminist and transgender activists have opposing opinions
Campaigners argue transgender women should have the same right to carry a child as a woman born female. But not everyone shares their view.
Feminist campaigner Julie Bindel has previously argued against the idea of motherhood for transgender women, saying: ‘This is not about transgender rights, it’s about a twisted notion as to what constitutes a “real woman”.’
Legal experts warn a legislative change would be needed because under current laws surgeons could face ten years in jail if they perform the operation. Writing in the same journal, Natasha Hammond-Browning, a law lecturer at the University of Gloucestershire, said: ‘Since the announcement of the first live birth following uterine transplantation, there has been considerable interest from the trans community (Daily Mail, Februauy 15, 2019).
A study published in Obstetrics and Gynaecology concluded that “Despite a number of anatomical, hormonal, fertility, and obstetric considerations that require consideration, there is no overwhelming clinical argument against performing UTx [uterine transplantation] as part of GRS [gender reassignment surgery]. However, the increased radicality associated with the retrieval operation, including a longer vaginal cuff and more extensive ligamentous dissection, potentially necessitates the use of deceased donors.”
Transplanting a womb into a male body. Ethical considerations
This operation involves huge ethical questions and medical risks. In this regard, we cite Richard Kennedy, president of the International Federation of Fertility Societies, who commented that “Uterine transplantation is a novel technique and should be regarded as experimental. Before a uterus could be successfully transplanted in a transgender woman, there are many difficulties that need to be resolved. In addition to the anatomical (including different circulatory systems), hormonal, fertility and obstetric issues that require special consideration, the increased radicality of this surgery associated with anatomical aspects such as the projected retrieval operation, including a longer vaginal cuff and more extensive ligamentous dissection, must also be studied”.