Nicole Carman is at a fertility center in the East Bay, the recent Pittsburg High School graduate is here to undergo egg retrieval, the surgical removal of eggs from her ovaries so they can be frozen and stored.
The 18-year-old wants to save the very cells that are the genetic link to the young woman she will soon leave behind when Nicole becomes Cole and goes from “she to he."
“I have always wanted kids," says Nicole. “I like kids, so I wanted to do it so I could have my own biological kids when I get older. Eight to 10 years from now I want them to be related to me.”
Nicole’s mother, C.J. Carman, understands her desire for a biological child completely.
“My husband and I have been really supportive of her and it seemed like a very important issue because, you know, who doesn’t want children that are part of them?" C.J. said. "My husband and I could never have children so I understand how that feels.”
C.J. and her husband, Pat, adopted Nicole when she was just five-and-a-half weeks old. The years that followed were filled with birthday parties, fun family trips and happy holidays.
But by middle school Nicole had begun to reinvent herself.
Gone were the pigtails and girly overalls, replaced by baggy clothes and a burning desire to appear on the outside, like she felt on the inside -- a boy.
“I can’t change the way I feel," Nicole says. “It’s not something I learned, or was taught, or influenced to do. It’s just me. That’s how I feel."
Fertility expert, Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh, says the 18 year old is among the first transgender teens in the country to freeze her eggs before beginning the initial gender transition process with male hormone replacement therapy.
While Dr. Eyvazzadeh has treated teenagers with fertility threatening conditions like cancer, Nicole is the first transgender person she’s helped to preserve her fertility.
“If the ovaries have shut down, then it is really hard to wake them up after years of testosterone use, so you are not going to get as many eggs as you would before you transitioned,” Eyvazzadeh said.
To help increase the number of eggs, Nicole has been flooding her body with female hormones.
The procedure proves successful: the soon to be college freshman has 40 eggs harvested, 23 of which are frozen and stored.
Dr. Eyvazzadeh says there is no rush the eggs will stay frozen and viable until needed.
The teen is confident the technology will pay off in the future.
“I want to be an advocate for LGBT rights," the teen said. "I want to have kids and I want to get married one day.”
Since that fertility procedure, Cole, as the 18 year old now publicly identifies, has started his transgender transition.
He is taking weekly testosterone injections and recently underwent his first gender re-assignment surgery. The procedure is known as “top surgery," which creates a male contoured chest.
More surgeries will follow, but for now, Cole plans to wait until he is done with college to complete his transition.
Cole’s parents paid for the fertility procedure and his gender reassignment surgery out of pocket.
According to Dr. Eyvazzadeh most insurance companies do not cover egg retrieval even for fertility threatening conditions like cancer.
Still, both Cole and Dr. Eyvazzadeh are hopeful that more trans teens will see the procedure as an option for them.