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

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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.

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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.