Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth @ Outfest

Everyone’s path to parenthood is different. But some are more different than most. Freddy is a transgender man who, along with his partner C.J., has decided to carry his own child. Now within the film world the idea of a man having a baby has been fodder for comedy. Think of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Junior. While Seahorse (an interesting and loaded title as male seahorses carry the eggs not the female) will make you smile on occasion due to its British style dry humour, it most certainly is a serious film.

This is a film which looks at an idea that will be new to many and issues facing the transgender community when they decide to start a family. Life decisions tend to be trickier for them. There is the going against everything your brain is telling you about who you truly are. Add to that the prejudice and judging by others.

Freddy sees his choice as a means to an end. The most efficient way for he and C.J. to have a child. Like many big choices we make in life things emmerge as we go along that we might not have expected. For instance, once Freddy stops taking testosterone it brings about unexpected issues such as his view of masculinity and all that means.

After one round of fertilization, Freddy and C.J. come to the realization that they want different things, so they break up. Freddy decides to continue going forward in the attempt to get pregnant. He is supported in this by his mother

The more the pregnancy advances the more Freddy feels like he is losing control of his body and is not liking the way it feels and looks. On top of the strain of having a child on his own, Freddy has to deal with the cost of the clinic bills, micro-aggressions from people in his life and strain within his own family.

Throughout all of this Freddy’s desire to have a child is never in doubt. He knows it is not going to be easy, but does not question his decision. It is a rare thing to be able hear a person’s experience in their own words. This film gives us that. We begin to understand that despite how strong the desire it is for Freddy to have a child; it is an occurence which causes him to lose himself. We begin to understand how Freddy is just like us and yet very different.

The screening at the Tribeca Film Festival is the film’s world premiere. Directed by Jeanie Finlay, it is a film with oodles of empathy for its subject and what he has to go through to have his own child. You see how hard it is for Freddy. Things that are relatively simple for women who are pregnant are arduous and complex for him.

He has to explain everything to everyone. Has to justify his choice. An especially hard and eye opening scene is one where a family member attacks him for his choice. Freddy has to get up and walk away. It is heartbreaking.

Even today a man having a baby is unusual. What this film tries to show is that we do not have to think of it as abnormal.