“Seahorse Parents” Showcases Transgender Men’s Journeys of Pregnancy and Parenthood

6 min read

Hannah Lorenzo ’24

Arts Editor

Liam Parker, son of Trinity College’s Campus Safety Officer Edward Parker, shares his pregnancy journey as a transgender man in “Seahorse Parents,” a documentary released for Queer & Pride Amsterdam 2023. The “Seahorse Parents” documentary spotlights four transgender men and their diverse stories of pregnancy and family. Parker tells of his experience being part of the documentary and celebrating his own journey.

Hearing about the initial project on Instagram in 2022, Parker reached out to Miriam Guttmann, Amsterdam-based documentary filmmaker and photographer, to learn about the documentary and its focus on pregnant men. Guttmann offered Parker the opportunity to travel to Amsterdam, Netherlands and participate in a pregnancy photoshoot, to which Parker said he excitedly accepted.

Once Parker made the trip all the way from New Jersey to Amsterdam at 33 weeks pregnant, Parker worked with Guttmann on what would best represent his story. According to Parker, they initially had conflicting perspectives on the documentary’s focus. While Guttmann’s ideas for the documentary revolved around his identity as a transgender man, he had concerns with the limitations of this approach and expressed his desire to focus on his pregnancy and parenthood values. “This documentary was always about the journey of the pregnancy,” Parker said. “I wanted this to be about joy, and the fact that this little being chose me to be his dad and how amazing that is.”

He reflected on how parenthood has impacted the trajectory of his life. “Before I figured out I was a boy, I knew that I wanted to be a parent, and the mark that I wanted to leave on the world would be my children,” Parker said. “I think getting to pregnancy and getting to parenthood looked a little different than maybe I imagined when I was 10 or my mom imagined when I was even younger than that, but it is here, and I am so glad that we got here to this point.”

When Parker and Guttmann came to an agreement on how to tell his story, he said that she is “somebody I can trust with my story because you are going to actually do it justice.” Now being identified as a transgender person in the public media, Parker expressed his refusal to fall into the online sensationalism surrounding the transgender community.

“To me, that is the problem with being a public transgender person to begin with. It is all about the shock value,” Parker said. “That is not the legacy I want to leave to my son.”

In “Seahorse Parents,” the storytelling is not only represented through the personal interviews, but also the underwater photoshoot exhibited by Foam, a photography museum in Amsterdam. This visual representation of pregnant transgender men connects to the title of the documentary, which refers to seahorses being the only male species that can give birth. The documentary’s photography is a creative, realistic portrayal of transgender men’s bodies and pregnancy along with their voices being heard in the interviews. Parker emphasized his amazement at how he was shown in the documentary.

“I thought that I sounded so confident and I do not feel like I sound like that in my normal life. The biggest thing for me was when I saw the picture,” Parker said. “There is now a picture of me where I am totally nude, where I look absolutely amazing, and that is all over the Internet. I did not know my body could look like that. It just feels good that there is such a positive image.”

Parker’s parents shared their thoughts about him traveling all the way to Amsterdam and filming the documentary. Parker’s mother, Dorraine Parker, expressed, “When he said he was going to do this documentary, we were cautious. This was a big exposure for him.” She ended up joining him in Amsterdam and witnessed how the documentary process became a successful venture for their son. She said, “Being able to accompany him and see the process and see him own his pregnancy, own his life, I couldn’t be prouder of him than anything.”

His parents described their response to seeing their son in the documentary. Dorraine Parker said, “When the final pictures and documentary came out, both Edward and I had tears. We thought it was the most beautiful representation of wanted desire, love and life.”

As “Seahorse Parents” depicts Parker’s pregnancy journey from a year ago, the documentary became another opportunity to look at their son’s transition from his past pregnancy to present parenthood.

“We already knew that Liam has a heart as big as anything and is wonderful, but to see it represented so artistically and so positively, we were just completely in love with everything,” Dorraine Parker said. “He is a fabulous father, never had a doubt. To see him now a year in as a parent, the love that he had to get this baby is just multiplied a thousand-fold. This documentary just highlighted exactly what love is about.”

In connection to Trinity College, Parker’s father, Edward Parker, has been at Trinity for 19 years. As a campus safety officer, he speaks with people and communities all over campus. He said he hoped to bring attention to his son’s story in “Seahorse Parents” at Trinity to support those that the documentary would resonate with.

“I think it is certainly going to help the transgender community greatly because they are going to see examples of positivity, so I think it is going to be wonderful,” Edward Parker said.

Parker’s own story in “Seahorse Parents” reflects the diversity of stories of transgender identity, pregnancy and parenthood that reach a transnational scale, from the U.S. to the Netherlands.

“It is hard right now in America specifically but also in the context of the world to be a transgender person and to not have the negative pieces come up,” Parker said. “To me, this project is about dispelling that and bringing up the joy and the love and the fact that our families might look a little bit different. But really, I think any parent can probably relate to being excited for your little one to come and inviting them into the world.”

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