The Other Knot

Trans men are erased from discussions about abortion. Undoing that erasure left me stranded between selves.

Jude Ellison S. Doyle
11 min readMay 18, 2022

A list of words being cut in half. Look, you try illustrating this one.
My life was cut in half, like a… list of words, I guess? Sure, why not. Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash

I wrote my second book the year my daughter was born. We had no money for day care, and no desire to send our newborn to one; my husband worked from home several days a week, and while he sat in the kitchen, a sitter came over. If I was in the apartment, the baby needed me to hold her. She was my baby, and that’s how it works. I had to leave home to write.

I wrote in loud, crowded coffee shops; I wrote after my daughter’s late-night feeding, when I couldn’t sleep. Sometimes, as the baby got older and more independent, I wrote at the public library. This was quieter, but also riskier, because it involved a 10-minute subway ride, and someone might need me back at home.

I knew that having a baby would be hard. I had no idea how it would consume me. My whole life was suddenly restricted to the few blocks around my apartment; my time was no longer my own. It became difficult to schedule a shower or a trip to the corner store, let alone respond to a 3:00 PM email asking for a piece someone could run by 5:00 PM that day. I owe my career to being a work horse; I’m no great talent, but I hand in clean copy, on deadline, no matter what. That year was the first time I struggled to meet a deadline. It was the first time I had a piece killed. My identity was ripped down the middle; there was my home, and my baby, and then there was everything else I had ever been or done or wanted. Both lives needed my full attention, and neither got it. No matter where I was, only half of me showed up.

It’s an old story: I thought I was pro-abortion, until I became a parent, and then I knew I was pro-abortion. Having a baby is so hard that no-one should ever have to do it against their will. Yet there was something else going on, and it ran deeper than new-parent exhaustion. I had never been more feminine than I was that year. I was married to a man. I’d given birth. I had all kinds of titles, like wife and mother. Some part of me had even wanted those titles; they denoted accomplishment, success, normalcy. They were my reward for doing Woman — not brilliantly, but clean and on deadline, which is usually good enough.

Jude Ellison S. Doyle

Author of “Trainwreck” (Melville House, ‘16) and “Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers” (Melville House, ‘19). Columns published far and wide across the Internet.

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