The dad who gave birth: 'I didn't know I could still get pregnant'

Watch: Trans man gives birth to baby boy after surprise pregnancy

A man has given birth to a baby boy after finding out he was pregnant just over two months into his gender transition.

Ryan Sanderson, 24, a drama student from Rochdale, Manchester was nine weeks into his female to male transition when he discovered he was expecting a baby.

“I didn’t believe I could get pregnant when on testosterone, until I found out that I was," he explains.

“My ex-partner was also under the impression that he was infertile, but that obviously wasn’t the case."

Read more: Transgender women could soon be able to get pregnant and give birth, experts say

Jake Sanderson pictured with his son Hendrick, now two. (Caters)
Trans man Jake Sanderson pictured with his son Hendrick, now two. (Caters)

After discovering he was expecting, Sanderson immediately paused hormone treatment in order to continue with the pregnancy, and was eventually thrilled to give birth to son, Hendrick, now two.

"I think more trans-men need to understand that it is still possible to get pregnant," he says.

While he had struggled with his gender identity since childhood, Sanderson says he knew he was male from the age of seven and came out to his friends and family at 19.

Sanderson came out as transgender when he was 19. (Caters)
Sanderson came out as transgender when he was 19. (Caters)

“Since coming out as Ryan, I’ve felt this freedom that I never felt as a girl," he says. "I do things for me instead of what society deems certain genders should do."

During a routine visit to the doctors nine weeks after beginning his testosterone treatment, Sanderson discovered he was actually 10 weeks pregnant.

Hendrick shortly after his birth. (Caters)
Hendrick shortly after his birth. (Caters)

Despite knowing instantly he wanted to continue with the pregnancy, the dad-to-be was concerned about the impact it might have on the body dysmorphia he had been struggling with.

“It was a huge shock to the system," he explains. "But even though I was worried about what coming off testosterone may do to my body dysmorphia, I knew instantly that I wanted to have the baby.

“I believed it to be fate," he continues. "I’ve never been a devout follower of religion, but I felt like it was a sign to have a child before I was in too deep into the testosterone treatment.

“When I found out I was pregnant, Hendrick truly became my everything.”

Read more: Transgender activists Hannah and Jake Graf welcome first baby via surrogate: 'We're in love'

Sanderson before his transition from female to male. (Caters)
Sanderson before his female to male transition. (Caters)

Despite suffering some difficulties with his body dysmorphia, Sanderson says he was fully supported through his pregnancy journey by friends and family.

“My GP was slightly worried about complications, but the course of my pregnancy ran pretty smoothly," he says.

“Thankfully, I had a wonderful team of midwives who would address me with the appropriate pronouns, and if they made mistakes they would always apologise.

“Sometimes they’d have questions, and it felt great to be able to answer them without them trying to offend me in anyway.”

Sanderson's baby bump while pregnant. (Caters)
Sanderson's baby bump while pregnant. (Caters)

He is also grateful for the support of his mum, Janette, 57, who has been there through his entire journey to parenthood.

“Without her, I’d be lost, she does so much for both Hendrick and I, and acts like a super-hero co-parent.

“She’s read all of the books and understands the way I’d like him to be bought up.

“My ex-partner doesn’t want to be in the picture, but I’ve got the full support of the rest of my family and friends.”

Read more: Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones praises son's courage for coming out as transgender

Sanderson suffered from body dysmorphia during pregnancy. (Caters)
Trans man Sanderson suffered from body dysmorphia during pregnancy. (Caters)

Sanderson is now embracing being a dad to his son and relishing some special father/son moments.

“I got to chest feed Hendrick when he was born, as I knew it was the healthiest and best way to help him in his growth," he explains.

“In 2021, I had top surgery to remove my breasts which felt amazing, although I am sad at the thought of not being able to chest feed any of my future children.

“I’d love to have a bigger family in the future, so I’m holding off on anymore surgeries for now until there are more options that I am comfortable with."

For now, however, he's concentrating on being a proud dad-of-one.

“Being a dad just feels right to me," he says.

“I’ve had so many people stop me when I’ve been out and about with him, commenting on me being a good dad, it just feels incredible.

“I’m finally the person I want to be, and I’ve got a mini-me to share that journey with.”

Leading expert Jane Hamlin, president of the Beaumont Society, the UK's largest support group for the trans community, says Sanderson's story is not unheard of.

"Transition, whether male to female or female to male is a process which takes time. It is not an instant change.

"Therefore, it is quite possible for a trans man to become pregnant during transition – particularly during the early period.

"Gender Identity Clinics usually advise people of this, but perhaps in Sanderson's case they didn't.

"Unfortunately, all the gender clinics are stretched trying to deal with a huge backlog of patients. It was bad before the COVID pandemic – three years or more for a first appointment – and now it is even worse.

"The clinics are doing their best, but they are underfunded and under-resourced. The government has promised to provide extra resources, but there is no evidence of them fulfilling this yet."

Above all, there is one message Hamlin wants people to remember: "Being trans is perfectly natural," she says. "It is not a life-style choice as some people seem to imagine, and being pregnant, as we all know, is perfectly natural too."

Additional reporting Caters.