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My review of 'Seahorse' documentary about Freddie McConnell's pregnancy.

This was a BBC funded film and the announcer described it as exploring Freddie's 'practical decision' to have a baby.

First imagery is close up shots of facial hair and chest hair of Freddie to
establish manliness credentials. Freddie speaks about how the Bond movie franchise made her realise she wanted to be a man and how the first injection of testosterone made her feel 'invincible'. Now aged 30, Freddie is broody and having her own baby is the 'simplest option'
The last injection of T is taken just before several rounds of donor insemination begin. Freddie briefly describes what happens after coming off T (no physical changes but expects to become more emotional).

The effect that the residual T might have on a baby aren't spoken
about.

Freddie takes the label off her folic acid tablets because it mentions pregnancy.

Freddie's mum is introduced. They have a very very close relationship. Mum says 'everyone should try pregnancy, especially men' and that it isn't true that transmen become infertile
after treatment with T. The documentary maker does not challenge this assertion and in fact it is very well documented that T irreversibly changes fertility status.

Freddie reveals that she is a 'gay' and only fancies men. We are introduced to CJ, another trans-identified
female, who Freddie is in a platonic relationship with. They decide hastily to co-parent with each other and as CJ is from Trinidad, Freddie has elected to receive African-Carribbean sperm donations so that the baby looks a bit like CJ.
At the private Harley Street fertility clinic, a doctor explains to Freddie that her womb will be 'flooded with sperm', which both Freddie and CJ both giggle at.

Freddie doesn't like being off T and feels 'deficient' off it (withdrawal).

It is made clear that CJ and Freddie
aren't having a physical relationship with each other, but that they are supporting each other. Freddie's periods recommence and she starts to track her ovulation so that she can time the insemination to happen at the height of fertility.

We see Freddie having an ultrasound
which looks at the follicles around her ovaries as the egg prepares to break out.

We see Freddie inject something into her abdomen.

No reflections have been made at all in the film as to what the health implications are for the unborn child, nor what the implications will be
for the baby being born fatherless.

Yet it is this point at which lip service is paid and Freddie asks whether she can take ibuprofen during pregnancy.

Cue some heavy handed spring imagery and cloying bittersweet music - we are 30 mins in.
Freddie talks about 'imagined cinematic scenarios' and that she doesn't want to be mistaken for a woman.

CJ and Freddie's fragile relationship breaks up. Freddie admits they didn't know each other well enough and has decided not to use African-Carribbean sperm donations.
The sperm donor she most wanted had 'sold out' so has to chose the next one off the list.

More seasonal imagery - autumn this time - and Freddie gets a positive pregnancy result.

Cue seahorse and water imagery.

Freddie reflects that she 'feels like a man who is doing
something very odd'.

Freddie shares insights that she could have read in any good book about pregnancy (or even a bad book) like that morning sickness doesn't just take place in the morning.

Filling out her first midwife form Freddie strikes out the words 'woman' and 'she/
her' wherever it appears and we began to get the first inkling exactly when the case which eventually ended up in court (though not referred to at all in this documentary) may have started to come to fruition.

First ultrasound mum is on hand to support and we learn that
Freddie's parents split up when she was 8.

Freddie talks about her relationship with her dad and that dad has not been supportive. Freddie reads out the email she is sending to her dad, in which the riot act is read out to dad that no negative comments will be tolerated.
Freddie isn't prepared to discuss 'negative perspectives' of her pregnancy (hence the complete absence of even one question about the effect T might have on the baby in the entire documentary).

Freddie says she's considering cutting dad off if she doesn't get the right response
Bird flying imagery to show how difficult it all is.

Freddie goes to the barbers and wonders whether her 'cis guy' friends will see her as less of a man for being pregnant.

At which point the audience feels really tested.

A bit more boo-hoo poor me. More water imagery -
Freddie swimming - she is now the Seahorse (they don't just throw these things together you know) and mournful music.

Mum buys a house in Spain. Freddie continues to inarticulate her feelings, every other word is 'fucking hell' or 'fuck me'. Difficult to maintain interest.
Freddie and mum discuss who should know her secret. Freddie doesn't want it to become a 'big story' (in that case why invite a documentary film maker to chronicle the experience).

Freddie says that 'cis mums' make her feel bad.
Cue an awful scene, in which Freddie's mum's friends are made out to be the baddies for talking about pregnancy and childbirth. Freddie sits at the head of the table almost literally rolling his eyes at everything they say and despite these women doing their best to encourage
Freddie, they are ultimately portrayed as insensitive and crass fish wives, and ask Freddie a terrible question of whether she will refer to herself as 'dad' or not.

One particularly 'nasty' lady recommends he goes to H&M to buy some big pants from their maternity section.
The seahorse is back on screen again and this time Freddie reflects that she may be doing something selfish - although I couldn't quite elucidate what that was - it certainly wasn't to do with the fact that the baby's health was going to be compromised in any way by T usage.
The birds flying across the dark sky come back again and we now see Freddie heavily pregnant. Contact has been remade with CJ, but they are just friends and CJ has her nephew in tow. Freddie has made up with dad (it sounds as if he has been broken).

Then Freddie's labour
starts. And this was the bit which really got me. I have no children and I have never been pregnant. Obviously being pregnant does not make a woman, but here Freddie was having an experience only a female can have and yet we are asked to consider that she is male. So a trans
man can actually experience birth and still be considered to be more of a man, than a woman who has never given birth.

The logic of gender identity - well it doesn't have any! Nothing makes sense.

We see the moment of birth and it is observed that the baby is a boy.
Final scene is Freddie with her son. A book on the shelf is called "I love my daddy" and we get an inkling that this baby is not going to be allowed to view his mother as a female. At all.

Freddie reflects that she just wants to get on with being 'a normal dad' and the
documentary ends there.

So that was it, no deeper questioning of what it really means to be a man, or why Freddie had ended up with gender dysphoria. It was obvious that she and her mother had an extremely intense relationship and that Freddie was dissociated from her dad.
But moreover, absolutely no reflections at all on how this would effect the baby, being born without the benefit of knowing his biological father and having no person to play the role of mother either.

The clinics don't care, they will just sell their products to anyone who
can afford to pay. I wonder in 20 years' time whether there will be some evidence that children exposed to male hormones in the womb are going end up with some developmental issues.

We will have wait and see, but one thing is clear, the BBC won't be funding *that* documentary
One final word:
Even if the T is stopped during the pregnancy, the ovaries and eggs will have been subjected to a sustained attack from high dose testosterone, sometimes for many years.

Normally this renders women infertile or seriously reduces fertility but what happens
otherwise to the integrity of the ova?

This opens up the possibility that there is intergenerational transmission of development defects, as the ova of any female babies develop during pregnancy.
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