FTM is an internet acronym that people use to identify themselves as someone who has transitioned, or is transitioning, from female to male, as well as someone who has transitioned, or is transitioning, into a first-time mom. FTM is an identity but it is also a hashtag: a sorting tool that creates a digital community, a grouping mechanism. When the #FemaleToMale and #FirstTimeMom tags collide, an accidental abbreviation of experience is turned into a digital community, and the hashtag becomes an intersection. The personal narratives we articulate below are meant to explore this intersection.
The first epigraph above is taken from the climactic scene in Thomas Middleton’s play, More Dissemblers Besides Women (1614), in which a Page swoons and calls out for a midwife after rigorous dancing lessons. Cinquepace, the speaker, assumes a miracle, an upside-down world, a strange case, and that a woman must have impregnated the Page—all of which allow for the possibility a young man could be pregnant (5.2.224-29). The audience has more insight into this moment, however. In the first scene of the play, Lactantio recognizes the Page as a former lover in disguise, and the Page informs Lactantio they are “with child” (1.2.142). (Because the Page is given no names other than Page or Antonio in the play, I refer to them throughout this piece with they/them pronouns). Over the course of More Dissemblers Besides Women, the Page waits in vain for Lactantio to marry them, while the other characters perceive the Page as “sweet a breasted page as ever lay at his master’s feet in a truckle-bed” (1.4.100-3). Even after the Page goes into labor, Cinquepace is none the wiser and exits the stage “supporting the Page” (1069).