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Trans Motherhood is Here

Surrogacy presents an amalgamation of the biggest culture war battles.

Credit: maxim ibragimov

Last week, I published a long report on surrogacy at Compact. The article, which examined some of the ethical and legal contradictions of the baby-making industry, was well-received by both conservatives and sex-realist feminists as a necessarily critical look at a practice which has grown rapidly more common in the last half decade. Commercial surrogacy, or the practice of paying women to gestate children for other people, has been lauded by LGBT activists as a scientific breakthrough for a more equitable vision of the family, yet it has exploited women, caused lifelong trauma for the children born of these agreements, and resulted in our convoluted legal scheme for determining parentage which may be accurately described as a joke. 

Unfortunately, as the Heritage Foundation’s surrogacy expert Emma Waters reported at WORLD magazine Wednesday, this boatload of evidence has not been enough. The state of Michigan, one of only three remaining U.S. states where commercial surrogacy is still banned, is moving to change that, and legalize all commercial surrogacy agreements in the state. Michigan’s Democrat-led House of Representatives recently passed a bill to do just that, as the state seeks to capitalize on the lucrative market for paid childbearers. (Altruistic surrogacy, where the gestating mother is not paid, is already legal.) This bill was not only a Democratic maneuver; a handful of Republicans in the state house also voted in favor of the commercial surrogacy bill. That handful represents a challenge.


Five years ago, surrogacy was not on my radar. Some children’s rights advocates like Katy Faust, founder of Them Before Us, and law professor David M. Smolin, author of the “$100,000 Baby” paper, sounded the alarm early, but too many of the key pro-family voices, not to mention regular conservatives like myself, were not listening. Surrogacy belonged to the world of Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton. It was concerning and strange, but not the most pressing cultural issue for the average American. Even today it is not, since state-sanctioned infanticide and groomers in grade school hold more immediate concern, as they reasonably should. 

In 2023, however, the issue of surrogacy is no longer dismissible. Indeed, commercial surrogacy is being justified on precisely the same grounds that have allowed abortion and transgenderism to become not just acceptable, but glorified and worshiped. It is an extension of that creature whose tentacles are already so deep in our schools, our military, our businesses, our government, and our public life. For if children can be killed for their mothers’ therapeutic needs, they can be created, and killed, or left frozen indefinitely, for the same. If disturbed men can dress in negligees and dance provocatively in front of children for their own gratification, disturbed men can surely also become buyers of newborn children for that same gratification. And if men can become women, and biology does not matter, then men and women can also become parents with little or no biological connection to the children created at their behest. This, by the way, is exactly what is happening

The ideological slippery slope is just one reason why reigning in the commercial surrogacy industry must become a more central part of the conservative agenda in 2024: Like transgenderism, the normalization of womb-renting is another distortion of nature by tech-driven posthumanism. We might fairly call it trans motherhood, for it requires swapping one mother for another. The trans “mother,” like the trans “woman,” is a pitiful replacement for the real thing.

Yet as an extension of these other threats, surrogacy should also be an easy target for the conservative movement. Far from being just another culture war issue to divide dollars and votes, surrogacy is part and parcel of the same disease currently eating its way through America, and is already well on its way to being the next big culture war battle. Much research has been done into its harms already, though there is certainly more to be done as the children born of commercial surrogacy come of age, and the conclusions regarding child outcomes are incontrovertible. All that remains is for more local and federal legislators to pick up these batons and start running. 

In the last several weeks the topic of surrogacy has garnered a lot of airwaves. Both Fox News host Guy Benson and creepy YouTube manchild Shane Dawson have recently received children via commercial surrogacy agreements, joining the unfortunate ranks of high-profile individuals like Pete Buttigieg and Dave Rubin who have purchased children from women and then posed in hospital beds. The sobering reality of the life ahead for these children was enough to prompt several prominent conservative commentators to denounce the practice of baby buying. This is a good beginning to a conversation the right has needed to have for too long. 

In another article at WORLD this week, Adeline Allen compared the gnosticism of embryo-shopping to the Incarnation of Christ, a relevant topic in this final week of Advent. One of the many beauties of the human birth of the God-man is that Christ was not selected, nor fine-tuned for the best physical characteristics, as Allen argues, but took on human flesh in all of its peculiarities. The words of the creed remind us that He was “begotten, not made”—old words with strange, new weight today. 

We might extend Allen’s argument a bit further: To be begotten requires an act of love, an overflow of self-offering which results in the creative act of conception. Where is this lovemaking in assisted reproductive technology? It has been replaced with commerce, and blood relations with contracts and lawyers. We should ask ourselves if such attacks on our very nature, and the nature of human social relationships, is so “fringe” after all.


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