Maddie's personal experience preserving her reproductive options with a sperm bank before transitioning.
If you transition you will lose the ability to have children. Even if you change your mind and stop hormones, there may be irrecovable damage to your reproductive ability. If you're a childless MtF transsexual you might want to consider a sperm bank. Other transgendered people may also want to look into their reproductive options.
I'm a MtF transsexual in my twenties. Right now I'm 'full-time', pursuing a Ph.D. and in a committed relationship with a women. We'd like to have children someday. But we'd like to wait until after we establish our careers. I felt the perfect solution would be for me to store sperm at a sperm bank. I thought this would be relatively easy to figure out how to do. Instead it became the hardest practical step in my transition!
I asked a transgenderist doctor what to do. S/he recommended a doctor at the hospital s/he was affiliated with. So I telephoned and left phone messages but I never got a response. When I left messages I said, "Dr. ___ recommended I contact you about ..." By giving the doctors name I was essentially saying I'm a transsexual. I'm not sure if that's why their office never called me back.
I asked the gender psychological clinic I go to. My counselor never thought about this option. He said he'd bring the question to the entire staff, but they never gave me any help finding a place.
I tried posting to internet discussion groups. I got a few supportive messages like "I wish I had had as much forthsight as you when I was younger." But I also got a few mean-ish e-mails about things like "You can't be a real transsexual if you want to retain this aspect of manhood'" and "Doesn't the world have enough babies as it is; we shouldn't reproduce."
Some people gave me vague tips on how to find a sperm bank. I also found my way to Andrea's RoadMap to transitioning. I tried their suggestions but was never successful. I called doctor referral lines, sent e-mail to the nearest city hospital, and asked in person at the local hospital. These paths only lead to no replies, "we don't do that here", or polite empty responses like "I can't help you."
But Andrea's web page listed several sperm bank web pages. I contacted one and asked if they could recommend a place near me. They gave me a phone number. I tried calling for several weeks, left messages, but never spoke to a person. When I finally spoke to a person I professionally told her who referred me and asked if their facility could provide for long-term cryopreservation. She hung up on me!
It was all so incredibly frustrating! I had been delaying my start on hormones for months. I felt like this effort was entirely hopeless. In desperation, I decided on a new tactic. Since I'm in a psychology department, I decided to act as though I'm trying to get a nationwide list for clients. I sent e-mail to a health-related government agencies. They said, "we don't have that information." I also sent postal mail to a medical association. But they hadn't replied in the next two months.
I was crying constantly about this! I had no idea what to do! Doctors weren't helping me. Psychologists weren't helping me. And my appeals to the transsexual community didn't help! Finally, I contacted one of the cryo-banks listed on Andrea's web site. It's a five hour drive from where I live.
By that point I was terrified they'd say "no" to helping me if I revealed my transsexual status. So I made up a cover story about going to work in a nuclear facility. I don't think the doctor believed me since he 'quizzed' me on related things. Then when my answers were competent (I have a B.S. in Physics and did an internship in nuclear physics), he said he asked because he did some work in nuclear medicine. I feel very guilty about having lied. And I recommend to others to just be honest. I think they would have helped me anyway. But by this point, I just wasn't very rational about the issue. I took vacations every weekend for a month to drive back and forth. Finally, I successfully preserved my reproductive options!
After I finished, I got a reply from the medical association. They sent me a full list of human semen cryobanks in the United States and Canada! It turns out there are places in every state!
I still don't fully understand why it took so much effort to do this. My best guess is that my requests seemed like a 'crack-pot' calling. Most people who use cryopreservation are referred by cancer doctor before they start chemotherapy. When somebody calls without a referral from the local doctors treating cancer, that person is probably viewed very suspiciously.
I'm posting this list to make it easier for others to preserve their reproductive options. Please be honest with these cryobanks. If more transsexuals start using this option, doctors will start to understand the legitimate reasons we have for contacting them. By being honest you'll help open the path for the next generation of transsexuals. I would also appreciate if you let your local gender therapists, gender clinics, and medical doctors who treat transsexuals know about this web page. Perhaps if they form relationships directly with cryobanks, then reproductive options will be more often presented to those considering transtitioning.