Trans Man Pregnant Spain
Instagram via @_belifving

First Pregnant Transmasculine Person in Spain Welcomes a Child

Stories

| LAST UPDATE 05/19/2021

By Kayla Black

Rubén Castro has made history in Spain as the country's first prominent transmasculine individual to carry a baby to term. From fertility to delivery, here's the "Seahorse Dad's" one-of-a-kind saga…

Meet Our 'Seahorse Dad'

Let's get started with Rubén Castro, a Spanish-native who, as we're writing, is in Madrid. Castro is finishing a degree in social education and has a background in child education. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

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Instagram via @_belifving

Ruben believes "in [a] diversity of bodies and identities" and recognizes himself as a transmasculine, non-binary individual. "I wasn't 'born a woman,' it was assigned to me," he articulated. His unique outlook allowed him to go on to achieve monumental goals and defy all skeptics.

He Yearned for Parenthood

Prior to getting into the nitty-gritty, let's get one thing straight: Rubén always wanted to experience carrying and delivering a child of his own. Though he never identified himself as a 'woman,' he wanted to share this experience that is often synonymous with womanhood.

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Instagram via @_belifving

How did he put it? "Ever since I could reason, since I was little, it was always very clear to me that I wanted to experience the process of carrying my baby," Castro shared. But this desire to experience pregnancy would be a lot more complicated than expected.

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A Fundamental Aspect of His Life

For Rubén, carrying a baby to term and raising the child was a dream from the get-go: "In my life plan, from when I was younger, I always planned to get pregnant when I was 22 or 23 years old maximum," he reflected. But now, at the age of 27, he understands that life had its own plan in store.

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Instagram via @_belifving

Unfortunately, his identity was at odds with the dream of fertility, making it far from simple. "You grow and realize that the world in which you live doesn't make it easy," Rubén confessed. To him, pregnancy was more important than anything. Though, so was honoring his gender identity. Could both dreams be attainable?

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Was Transitioning on the Table?

Prior to his struggle for fertility rights, Rubén fought another dream: getting Spain to accept his gender identity. Pictured here is Castro back when he was 23-years-old. He photographed this monumental moment upon receiving his state-issued ID card that reflected who he really was.

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Instagram via @_belifving

Castro couldn't have been more excited: "Today I begin existing legally," he gushed. "After 7 months of waiting, of paperwork, obstacles, unpleasant situations... but being even stronger thanks to everything I had to fight along the way." But his story was far from over, as Rubén continued to carve his way.

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His Dream of Pregnancy Impacted the Journey

Castro began hormonal treatments to better match his appearance to his gender identity. But he had to play it safe, since affecting his fertility was a major concern: "Because of that, I've always been very careful on the [transitioning] journey," Castro articulated.

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Instagram via @_belifving

As he elaborated, "I've always preserved my fertility, and any choice I've taken has been affected by this." As a result, Rubén adjusted his transition to mesh with his dream of having a child. What modifications did Castro carry out during this personal process?

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Bureaucratic Roadblocks

Arguably the number 1 priority for Castro prior to hormonal treatment was preserving his eggs. However, this came to be another roadblock for him: "It's an unnavigated topic bureaucratically," he admitted. However, unwavering in the face of adversity, Rubén soldiered on.

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Instagram via @papagestante

But the roadblocks just kept coming: "If I get pregnant and give birth, what labor maternity/paternity law will be applied to me?" Castro pondered. There was a never-ending list of what-ifs for him, but he was still determined to achieve his lifelong dream.

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His Eggs Were Frozen

His work finally paid off on the 27th of February of 2017: "I was the first trans person to access the freezing of eggs through Madrid's social security," Rubén celebrated. His achievement marked a huge advancement for the trans and non-binary community.

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Instagram via @_belifving

Throughout his transition, Castro left as many doors open as possible when considering parenthood. He chose against breast removal, something he otherwise would have gone for. "I want to live the experience of lactating, which is very important for me," he shared. This was just the start of his fertility journey.

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He Was Constantly Rejected

Sure enough, after preserving his eggs and beginning his hormonal journey, Castro began looking for sperm donors. And though his government had legally ensured access to fertility health for all trans people, Rubén was met with a fair share of refusals.

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Facebook via Rubén CT

What happened? "In some places, they had no idea [about the new law], they told me that they couldn't help me," he explained. In others? They'd send him in another direction. "'Go look at this hospital...' and so that's what I did until I finally found a doctor," Castro shared. The journey was far from over.

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Gaining Approval From an Ethics Board

The bureaucratic roadblocks and constant fight for acceptance were arguably the most challenging aspects of Castro's journey to parenthood. "There's a lot of lack of knowledge in many areas. Starting with the health aspect," he once commented. After finally finding a hospital, he had to appear in front of an ethics panel.

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Instagram via @_belifving

As he explained, "I had to pass through an ethics committee in a public hospital for them to decide if I can access reproductive assistance." With his fertility fate in the hands of the board, Castro wondered if his pregnancy dreams and gender identity would ever be accepted.

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Getting the Green Light

Finally, with the egg freezing and hormone treatment long behind him, Castro achieved the right to fertility help. He eventually got the approval of doctors and continued with his journey. "This is the treatment they gave me for [artificial insemination]," he commented of the following picture.

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Instagram via @papagestante

Unfortunately, it wasn't easy: "It may seem like something simple, but it involves sacrifice and a lot of emotional and mental strength," Ruben reflected. "I look at this photo, and I get goosebumps." With the medical help he deserved finally given to him, he never imagined what came next.

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He Continued To Be Misgendered

Even after the years of government roadblocks and refusals, Castro had to continue fighting for his rights and educating health experts. He ran into a number of medical professionals who couldn't grasp his gender identity. Safe to say, the misgendering resulted in much discomfort during doctor's appointments.

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Instagram via @_belifving

Rubén was subjected to she/her pronouns despite articulating his gender identity and use of he/they identifiers. "When I had to show part of my body for an ultrasound if the treatment had been male at some point... it automatically became female," he lamented. It was very awkward for the expecting dad.

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Trial and a Lot of Error

The constant fight for acceptance was only half of the emotional and taxing journey. Each false pregnancy test caused pain for Castro. "This path has not been easy because there have been [pregnancy] attempts that have failed," Rubén reflected of the treatment trials.

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Instagram via @_belifving

Castro understood the unfavorable stats. As reported by the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, over the age of 35, artificial insemination results in pregnancy for only 15.8% of people. And each unsuccessful trial brought unimaginable heartbreak.

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Pregnant At Last

His long run of pregnancy attempts melted away one fateful day. Finally, after years of dreaming, Castro's hard work paid off. He was expecting! Those 2 thin stripes on the pregnancy test felt surreal for the parent-to-be. Rubén could finally start planning for the next chapter of his life.

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YouTube via Papá Gestante: el documental

"I couldn't believe it; I could only cry," Rubén reflected of that fateful day. "I felt a lot of uncertainty. I was scared that anything that I'd do, like eat or think, could cause me to lose the baby." The initial joy was soon joined by the wondrous thrills that the first trimester has to offer.

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Morning Sickness and More

It's no secret that being pregnant comes with its ups and downs. "It's been a rollercoaster. There are good days and less good days," Castro reflected on his early pregnancy days. Rubén experienced the spectrum of indicators of the first trimester, including nausea and extreme fatigue.

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Facebook via Rubén CT

As Rubén shared, "I've had to deal with nausea and morning sickness in the beginning." He went from sleeping all the time to "not sleeping more than three or four hours in a row." Despite the trying symptoms, Castro loved the journey and even coined a cute name to commemorate the experience.

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Becoming "Seahorse Dad"

Over the years, Castro came to idealize seahorses as the perfect representation of his fertility desires. He identified with their natural abilities and sought comfort in them when society lacked understanding of his dream… But what abilities was he referring to?

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Facebook via Rubén CT

As stated by National Geographic, male seahorses have the ability to carry their eggs to term. They house 2,000 seahorse fetuses during a 25 day gestation period. So, not exactly the same as Castro, but nevertheless, he nicknamed himself the "Seahorse Dad. To the point where he even got it inked onto his skin.

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He Felt Like He Was Breaking Rules

The joy Castro experienced from the pregnancy was undeniable, but he continued to feel out of place. He shared with followers that from the early years, the notion of his gender-queerness and yearning for childbearing seemed like an enigma. Even as a mature and committed grownup, the dream still felt rebellious to a degree.

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Facebook via Rubén CT

How did he see it? "Me going through this process… goes against all written law in this country," Rubén reflected. "There's nothing to regulate legally that there's someone registered civilly as a man and that goes through with this process." While legally now, Castro was a man, the spectrum of gender remained important to him.

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Trans People Are All Unique

Castro articulated the reason why he was met by so much confusion from medical professionals regarding his transition. "People have a hard time understanding it... because of everything that's believed about trans people," he shared. "There's a collective imagination... that thinks we hate our bodies."

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Instagram via @_belifving

Rubén further shared, "Or our bodies are wrong when it's not like that at all. There are a lot of trans people, and each one lives their transition how they want." In his case, the pregnancy came before any bodily modifications. Luckily, he finally met a community of folks who shared his beliefs.

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Creating a Medical Family

The barrage of misgendering and looks of confusion from the medical community impacted the expecting parent. "The truth is that I have been struggling throughout my pregnancy," Castro confessed. In the end, he opted for private medical care to uplift his voice and control regarding patient care.

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Instagram via @papagestante

After becoming pregnant, Castro opted to go private. "I have found an incredible team that is committed to diversity," he gushed. "They treat me great, they understand that language is very important, they listen to me." Private care was "completely different [from before]. That's how [he] dreamed of living it."

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Many Disapproved

Unfortunately, one glance at Castro's public platforms reveals there were a number of commenters who disapproved of his gender queerness and choice to be pregnant. "With that, [he] demonstrates [he's] a woman, always was, always is," a social media user stated of Rubén's choices.

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Facebook via Rubén CT

"If you've changed your gender, why have you wanted to do something that only corresponds to a woman? Because carrying and birthing a child only women do," a different user commented. Clearly, many thought his gender and pregnancy desires were at odds. But what did the "Seahorse Dad" have to say?

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Not a "Regression" in His Eyes

The way Rubén saw it, his existence was all about breaking the mold. He fought for the belief that no individual should fit inside a neat box. And he also broke the stereotypes and assumptions surrounding his life. Castro continued to educate others about his choices through the use of his social media platforms.

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Instagram via @_belifving

In his eyes, his gender identity and fertility went hand in hand. "Despite what a lot of people might think, that this means a regression in my transition, for me, it's all an advance because it's where I've always wanted to be," he said. Despite his self-confidence, did the criticism ultimately get to the expecting dad?

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It Was Worthwhile Overall

Safe to say, Rubén experienced his share of adversities over the years: From his transition to his journey with pregnancy, the road was never easy. "It's been a process in which I've had to face a lot of closed doors," Castro shared of his medical and social concerns.

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Instagram via @_belifving

Rubén added, "Spaces where this isn't contemplated or this lifestyle is degraded or directly denied. I knew it would be difficult, but when you want something, there's nothing that can mess with it." Sure enough, he kept his eyes on the prize: delivering his child.

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Never-Ending Joy

But even with the endless obstacles, struggle with fertility, and many frustrations, in Rubén's eyes, the experience was overall "incredible." And Castro kept it real when a follower inquired how the journey to parenthood was progressing for him. He laid it all on the table with his answer.

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Instagram via @_belifving

His joy was well earned, as he got to see his body change each and every day. "Despite all of the difficulties on the way, for me, seeing myself like this, which is how I always wanted to see myself, has been incredible." But the approaching due date brought more what-ifs.

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His Post-Birth Concerns

In no way was Castro's journey to pregnancy easy, and being a trans father wouldn't be a walk in the park. "When my baby is born, I'll have to register them. And obviously, since I have my legal documentation changed, I should be listed as a father," he shared. But each decision came with its own concerns.

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Instagram via @papagestante

Unfortunately, he'll have to wait until his baby is born to fight those battles. "In the bureaucratic aspect, there's a lot of lack of knowledge and nothing that legislates a person who's not a mother, but is a father, that has given birth to their baby," he explained.

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Prepping for the Due Date

Despite the what-ifs, Rubén's joy was unbridled. He put all his attention into making sure everything was in order for the due date: baby room, supplies, toys, you name it. And when it came to parenting his future baby? Castro wasn't sweating it - He had an extensive background.

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Instagram via @papagestante

He was a child educator and spent all of his life around children. "The vision I have, at least now, is that it's going to be simple," Castro shared. "It's not the same to see it as it is to live it, but I don't imagine it's going to be something worrisome in my life - all the contrary."

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His Vision for the Big Day

Prior to putting all that experience to the test, Rubén first had to get through the delivery. But to the surprise of few, Castro also had a plan for his "ideal birth." When sharing about his chosen facility, he said, "I've chosen this site because they have a birthing program in water, and I would like for it to be like that."

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Instagram via @_belifving

Rubén added that he wanted a conscious birth that ended in water. He also envisioned avoiding any painkillers. "That's the intention, but what I'll end up needing or whatever ends up happening will be okay," he clarified. And before he knew it, the big day arrived!

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Little Luar Arrives

May 1st, 2021, was one for the books. Castro finally met his little miracle named Luar. As we're writing, Rubén has not revealed the sex or medically designated gender of the baby. But the pictures tell us more than we need to know. Luar is as cute as they come: Complete with rosy cheeks and tiny hands.

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Instagram via @papagestante

"Luar has arrived," Castro gushed to followers. "[Luar] finally decided that May 1st was a good day to come out... It has been the most difficult and desired thing I've experienced until now. The adventure is only just beginning." And we were happy to tag along for the ride...

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He Brought His Camera Along

Castro recorded every detail of this incredible journey. The footage was compiled into a movie called Papá Gestante, which translates to "Pregnant Father." "From the very first moment, I wanted to have it documented because I think there's a lot of... knowledge missing, and so we're recording it," Rubén explained.

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Instagram via @papagestante

As he elaborated, "We'd also like for it to serve… people who work with other people." In other words? "If they meet a trans person, they'll have a base and know what's important in these cases. It's about paving the way for the rest and make it known in society." Many hoped the film would do him justice.

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Sharing His Unique Story

As the movie's crowdsourcing website phrases it, the documentary would certainly deploy a unique take. Without the help of big companies, the film wouldn't "have any censorship or directive at the time of telling the story," the creative minds proudly shared.

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Instagram via @papagestante

And in Castro's eyes, the doc is an opportunity to bring his story to the forefront. "We support the protagonists in being much more than that and in forming part of their own narration," the official website continued. And though many figured the film would be the first of its kind in Spain, Rubén disagreed.

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Castro Said There Are Plenty of Others Like Him

Though groundbreaking in his own unique way, Castro made it clear he is not Spain's first trans child-bearer. "It's actually not the first case. I feel that in terms of visibility, the other people I know haven't made themselves visible because of everything that comes along with being more visible," he articulated.

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Instagram via @_belifving

Rubén added, "In the end, we face a lot of hate, from a lot of parts, and putting yourself in social networks and media is complicated." But at the end of the day, after all the hate and obstacles, does he have any regrets? Did the ends justify the means?

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Could It Happen Again?

The bureaucracy (that sees Castro as a man) has brought an endless spew of obstacles for the new parent. From transition to fertility, it's been an uphill battle. He faced closed doors, endless refusals, and misgendering. However, all that matters is his baby in his arms. Could another pregnancy be on the horizon?

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Instagram via @_belifving

"I don't know," Rubén confessed. "I have no idea; I wouldn't be able to answer that. I'll leave it in the air… at this moment, I'm focused on this experience." Nothing but love for this adorable duo! But their story is far from over. Check out the "Seahorse Dad" on his Insta, @papagestante, for more...

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