Does anyone else get dysphoria when realizing that I could not become someone's biologically father without being the one carrying them? It just hit me that I'll never be a "true father", and it kinda just :/
Aha! So, anon, I totally get what you’re feeling here. It sucks. But a couple ideas I wanted to raise. Being an adoptive father is no less important than raising a biological child. There are literally hundreds of thousands of children who deserve loving families and parents.
Now, if you’re set on one day having biological children, you still have a few options that are not carrying a child. You can undergo a procedure to extract and freeze some of your eggs, which then later can be fertilized either by your partner (if they can produce sperm) or by a donor, and then carried either by your partner (if they are able and willing) or by a surrogate.
Now, those are current possible options that are used by couples around the world today. Now, there are some assisted reproductive technologies that have a lot of future potential, and depending on research and funding and all of that, in the near future there are some possibilities that could take shape.
Technology 1: Three Parent Babies- Now, this is currently used to avoid mitochondrial diseases, but there is the possibility in the future of allowing queer couples another chance. If you and your partner both produce eggs, the mitochondria (which contain their own DNA) is taken from one egg cell, and the nuclear DNA is taken from another egg, and then those are combined together in a single egg and fertilized by a donor sperm. The resulting child then has coding DNA from two parents and mitochondrial DNA from a third.
Technology 2: Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer- This is one of the more ethically shaky technologies. A somatic cell is any non-gamete (or sperm/eggs). Basically what happens is doctors would take a somatic cell (a skin cell for example) and remove the nucleus (where the DNA is housed) and place it into an egg cell which has had its nucleus removed. The egg cell then begins to divide as if it had been fertilized. The resulting embryo is then essentially a clone of the person who donated the somatic cell. In contrast to the three-parent baby above, this child would only have one biological parent. The embryo would then have to be carried to term either by you or by a surrogate.
Technology 3: Artificial wombs- I am less familiar with this (as my bioethics class has not discussed it and I haven’t come across it in any of my other biology classes so far, just in personal research), but as I understand it, in the future we are hoping to be able to allow embryos to develop to term in an artificial womb, outside of a human body. This would eliminate the need for you or any future partner to carry the child or for you to find a surrogate.
Technology 4: Somatic Cell gametogenesis- This is another technology I’m not super familiar with, but from what I’ve read, there is the possibility of taking a somatic cell such as a skin cell or muscle cell and reverting it to a stem cell state (iPS or induced pluripotent stem cells- happy to talk about those at a later point on my personal if anyone is interested). These induced stem cells can then be used to create any type of cell with your genetics, including gametes, or sperm and egg cells. Now, as I understand it, it should be possible to create both a sperm and an egg cell in this manner regardless of your birth assignment and of the gamete type you naturally produce. However, the thing to note is that for you, sperm cells produced in this manner will only carry X chromosomes, so if your partner is producing eggs (which always have X chromosomes), your child will be afab.
So those are the possibilities that could start being used in the near future that could help you biologically father children without carrying them. Some already are being used- there are currently two three-parent babies alive, and I believe a third is on the way.
This is all a long-winded and very science-y way of saying don’t lose hope. Science is advancing every day. I apologize for being so long-winded– I’m a biology student, and the first half of my bioethics class this semester was involving assisted reproductive technologies. We discussed a lot of what I talked about above in a lot of detail (the class is full of pre-med students and biology majors like me). I know I got very science-y here. Please feel welcome to ask follow-up questions here and especially on my personal for any clarifications. But anyway, whether you choose to freeze your eggs, adopt, or wait and see about somatic cell technologies, remember you are valid, and no matter what I know you will make an excellent father some day.