Why I feel for the kids of ego-trippers

ROSEMARY MCLEOD: The matter of getting pregnant has become rather strange.
ROSEMARY MCLEOD: The matter of getting pregnant has become rather strange.

Maybe having kids is egotistical. You think you'll somehow live on forever through your amazingly gifted and beautiful descendants.

 All I know is the whole thing was always a lottery, and despite the pill and the abortion rate, the matter of getting pregnant has become rather strange.

Britain's Beaumont Society, adviser to men who've changed sex, has announced an apparent miracle birth in England, where an apparent man has given birth to a real baby.

This news has been trumped by a report of another "man" who has given birth three times in - and this seems inevitable - California.

The transgender community, says the Californian, has set upon him/her nastily for what it may feel is disloyalty. He/she is photographed sitting up in bed with the new number three, looking like a rather plain woman, which in fact let's not beat about the bush is what he/she is.

Thomas Beatie was born a woman, had sex reassignment surgery and legally changed his/her identity in Hawaii to male. He/she is now married to a woman, had all along kept his/her ovaries and stuff, and never opted for a surgically created penis thingy.

This, to my mind, makes him/her a woman who may shave in the morning and have short hair and a deep voice, as may many women with a hormonal imbalance. But if you called him/her a gay woman you'd hurt his feelings. I'm a bit lost here.

Why should I care? Because if it's happening today in California, it'll be happening here next week. We pick up on all extreme trends, and then defend them heatedly as if we invented them.

It's the kids I worry about. It would be all very well if their mother/father had kept his/her unusual situation private, but he/she has boasted about it publicly, and that stands a good chance of rebounding against the kids, which hardly seems fair.

He/she can give birth to live goldfish for all I care, but I dislike ego trippers bent on being famous, especially at other people's expense.

That brings me to the second big ego-tripper of the week, another Californian. Trent Arsenault is a proud 36-year-old virgin who has so far fathered 15 children via an age-old but usually uncelebrated manual art.

He's a software engineer and is European, which probably makes him ideal for the purpose if you're racially prejudiced, but he does look goofy. That makes you wonder if the women who've hatched his offspring paused, in their eagerness to be fertilised, to wonder about the genes that create personality.

Arsenault made a vow 20 years ago to devote his life to science, to be celibate, and never to marry.

He later added that he would not drink alcohol, and is keen on an organic diet which, he assures prospective womb-people of whichever gender, assures organic sperm production. Arsenault has a cat. That's nice. He never made a vow about cats.

The American Food and Drug Administration is checking him out, and will decide whether the service he provides breaches health and safety regulations - a problem a bit like our sausage sizzles, I suppose.

He makes 15 donations a month, free of charge, and spends the rest of the time either greeting his many visitors, or consulting for a big computer company.

There are many ways to become famous, but few aspirants provide such detailed background information. Arsenault's website notes, for example, that Silicon Valley has one of the highest rates of autism in the world, but not via his sperm, which he guards jealously by avoiding "ionizing radiations'' and bad chemicals.

Pick-up time for his donation is between 8pm and 10pm, including holidays, when it's prepared for "immediate insertion''. Get in line.

To think we once relied on Asti Spumante and the back seat of a Ford Cortina. But that was when reproduction was - it seems so silly now - sexy.

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