Books / Culture / News & Politics

Children of the Future

http://dnasab.net/project/video-art-14/ This is a tag-team post by j (her “voice” in italics) and Trista.

neurontin 300 mg gabapentin When I was a teenager, just beginning to come out to myself, I bought a book of lesbian short stories.  In the collection was the story “When it Changed” by Joanna Russ.  This story blew me away.  It encapsulated every amorphous feeling that I was having about the possibilities of creating a life with a woman.  Here, in this story, it was normal.  Natural.  It wasn’t that men were absent, it was that loving women and creating a life with one was normalized.  The women were stong and capable and they loved passionately.  There was possibility made manifest in a way that made me ache for the reality.  And then the story forcloses on that possibility, because we see that society only at the moment that everything changes, and suddenly that imperfect, hard place is revealed as a utopia disrupted.

I cried after reading that story the first time.  Not only because of the loss of that fictional utopia, but out of joy for seeing that life with a woman partner could be fulfilling and not the story of alienation and loss that had so often been thrust at me.  Over the years I’ve thought of that story with longing more than once.  Not for the post-apocalyptic lifestyle, or the separatist society it portrays, but because the women in that story had access to a technological process that allowed them to have children who were biologically the offspring of both women.

In If These Walls Could Talk 2, Ellen DeGeneres’ character exclaims in frustration and sadness how she wishes she could get her partner pregnant herself, without the tank and some unrelated person’s sperm.  Or something to that effect (it’s been a while since I’ve seen the show).  And oh how I’ve often felt that.  As much as Kristin and I love our known donor, how would our lives be if it were possible to impregnate each other with our own genetic material?  If Julia was biologically both of ours and no one could take her away from either of us just because we’re not her “real” mother? 

S and I have shed numerous tears during our ttc journey, and often times one of us will say “I wish I could/you could just get you/me pregnant.”  Perhaps knowing that this is not an option is part of the reason we keep saying it. I mean, plenty of straight infertiles have male factor as part of their issues, and I’m sure that in moments of a multitude of emotions, those same words are uttered.  In addition, I will admit some feelings of loss knowing that our children won’t look like S, and she has so many wonderful features, that I’d love to have combined with my genetics.

It seemed a possibility destined to remain on the scifi shelf at the library.

But now researchers have created immature sperm cells from bone marrow.

Scientists say they have successfully made immature sperm cells from human bone marrow samples.

If these can be grown into fully developed sperm, which the researchers hope to do within five years, they may be useful in fertility treatments.

The article talks about how the treatment would be used to help men who’ve been rendered sterile by disease or defect.  But I can see lesbians and transmen clamoring for this technology, too.  If they can make sperm from a male’s stem cells, why not a female’s?  The generation of lesbians right behind us, or at most my daughter’s generation, might be able to have children this way.  Transmen would be able to impregnate their partners with their own sperm.

I echo Trista’s wonderment about the possibility of creating sperm from female stem cells.  That’s not to say that this is something that I fully endorse, but I’m more curious about the male/governmental (worldwide) reactions to this science which could render them…obsolete.

Also, creating sperm from females would make the offspring guaranteed girls, and that just adds more complication and implications to the stew….

There are so many things to be “thought” about this discovery – it seems like a step beyond anything we’ve imagined could happen!  But is that such a great thing?

Discuss.

4 Comments

  1. & you know what is sort of crazy/nuts? My first thought was, “hey! Maybe I can knock myself up!”

    you take the girl out of Alabama…

    p.s. Yay! just saw that I am a “friend of the family” on this amazing site. Any chance I could have my link updated?

  2. Lo and I have often bemoaned the fact that we can’t just make egg salad… mix the two of us up and get a baby.

    Like you two, I am not ready to endorse this or ignore the potential complications. But the possibilities are certainly intriguing, for any number of reasons.

  3. Like everyone else in the lesbian ttcverse, we celebrated the iguana story a few months ago with glee. I’m both intrigued and excited by this. We’ve contemplated IVF with Vanessa’s eggs and my body. Thus far money and timing have stopped us, but it’s still on the table for a future child. The idea of a child who is biologically related to both of us fills me with longing.

    Vanessa’s initial response to this story, though: geez– another thing we’d have to pay for. Getting knocked up with science is so freakin’ expensive, and lesbian couples do not tend to be flushed with cash.

  4. I betcha anything they could use cloning technology to “fertilize” an egg with an egg, actually. I think they don’t, because they don’t see a profit in it.

    I’m cynical like that!

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