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"But can I still be their Mom if I have a beard?"

That really is a thought that went through my mind. Goes through my mind - daily, sometimes hourly. And though it makes me laugh to read it, it's also one of the most serious and heartwrenching thoughts I've ever had.

I have three children who are my raison d'être (I literally would have taken my own life years back if it were not for their need to have a Mommy) and I recently came out through my own gender binary from tomboy/butch to genderqueer to transman.

I never felt like I was a woman, not even when I was pregnant or nursing. But I'll be damned if I'm not a Mommy with all my heart and soul. I'm a mixed up Mommy, to be sure, and maybe my angels won't call me that when I'm further along Transition Road. But being a mother has been more than my gender that was always unclear to me. It's more than the plumbing that concieved, carried and birthed them, it's more than the breasts that fed them. I think...

But when my name and gender marker are changed, and ovaries, uterus and breasts are gone... will I still be their Mom? If I have a beard!?

I got so stuck in my thinking about that, that I gained ten pounds on Gin & Tonic and ice cream.  I'd never let anybody else take away my status as a Mommy, could I (and would I) do it to myself?

Jump with me to the other side of the diary binary to see what answers I've come up with.

Recently CA Treehugger helped open my mind by recommending this book about gender diversity: Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People. Aside from being a truly entertaining read, it highlighted the remains of my internalized gender binary more efficiently than I would have though possible. I came to see myself in the excellent (non-static, non-binary) company of a good portion of the living things on this planet. Some creatures (fish I believe) even change their sex-role more than once within a single act of mating. I shouldn't even get started on the other cool examples - seriously, read the book!

Given my new-found solidarity with all sorts of fascinating flora and fauna, I decided to revisit the intersection of Motherhood and Transgender Man. Just like with sex and gender, motherhood seems at first glance like the simplest thing in the world. A female, her child, her motherhood. But anybody who's ever given serious thought to adoption or abortion can tell you it's not that simple. Yes there is the biological relationship between myself and my children. It was my eggs that were fertilized by their father's sperm. And I do see much of myself in them. But any adoptive parent will tell you that motherhood or fatherhood doesn't need the genes. And though I've never had an abortion myself, I held the hand of a rape victim in the waiting room of a clinic. She had a pregnancy terminated because she was unwilling to be forced into the role of mother by that act of violence that enable her egg to be fertilized by a rapist's sperm.

So even without the gender aspect, Motherhood is not cut and dry. Motherhood has as many valid expressions as there are creatures on the earth. It can be something biological, cultural or emotional, and as with the fish who change roles during the act of fertilization, so can a parent change their role and understanding of the relationship as it evolves.

I was often very dysphoric during those years. I sometimes felt like they were parasites sucking the energy out of me. I loved them with all that I have, but I hated feeling sick, dizzy, off balance. I resented the discomfort and inconvenience, the things I gave up (coffee!) and the things I couldn't bear to look at any more (milk). I resented the pain. There was a lot of pain.

But there was purpose as well. I've always hated my breasts, but I knew they'd provide the best nourishment for my children. They had become "useful" for a time. And for that I was grateful that they were a part of me. I had similar feelings about the rest of the "plumbing". It felt (for lack of a better word) "yucky", but at the same time it was clear to me that it is a wondrous thing to have a child, my child, grow inside my body. All the pain and blood and bad moods over the years had been leading up to my children, and to me it was the ultimate expression of nurturing, to have my own body be the vehicle that brought them into the world.

None of that ever made me really identify as a woman, though on some level I had hoped that it would. It made me feel fat and cranky, but it also made me glad to be a female in the context of human reproduction. It was MY body, and not that of my a$$hole ex-husband, and they were (and are) MY children. I felt that I had more claim to them. I was, from the beginning of their lives, the center of their worlds: MOM.

I was 25 when I had my eldest, and I had hoped that Motherhood would fill the emptiness and right the wrongness I had carried with me all my life. It did not. Motherhood certainly filled my heart with happiness and love at times. But it didn't change the deep-seated feeling that something was very wrong with me. It didn't take away the incongruence, the feeling of inadequacy, the sense that I was missing something I could never put my finger on.

Now that they are getting older and more independent, I've had the space and time to accept my gender identity. I played my part as a female in the biological process of reproduction, but now the nurturing is different. I don't need the female body parts to continue to care for them and provide them with all they need to keep growing into physically and emotionally healthy young adults. What I need to provide them with now is an emotionally healthy, happy parent. That means transitioning. That means removing the plumbing that brought them into the world and the breast that fed them in the first, most important months of life. And it means taking the testosterone that will eventually give me a beard. Even if I shave it twice a day, it will be there - it has to be.

For me, being a mom has meant giving my children the most nurturing environment possible. From the womb to the breast, from preschool to the dinner table, from the library to the farmers market and in every other aspect of life, I've tried to offer them warmth, authenticity and a depth and breadth of opportunity, to find their own paths in life. Now the only way to keep offering them authenticity is to transition to a male body and presentation that matches my gender.

If I want to keep being the best mom I can, I don't have any choice but to transition. Will they still call me Mom when I have a beard? I don't know, but it won't really matter.

Originally posted to TransAction on Thu May 05, 2011 at 06:57 AM PDT.

Also republished by oo and Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  I don't know the answer. I think (16+ / 0-)

    eventually you will find it.

    Tipped and rec'd

    Seen on Twitter: "This has to be the first time in history that old white men tried to take credit from a black guy for someone getting shot." ~@MikeDrucker

    by second gen on Thu May 05, 2011 at 07:02:26 AM PDT

    •  I don't know either: (8+ / 0-)

      I would consult some stay at home Dad's who do traditional "Mom" things - I know one who learned to braid hair b/c their mother didn't know how.

      My gut instinct tells me that you simply need to be a parent.  Parents are there for unconditional love, support and advice when asked (for older children).  I would think that your children will recognize the love of their parent, in any gender, b/c love has no gender.

      "How can the United States be the Greatest Nation in the World and the only Super Power when its citizens hold bake sales to raise money to pay for life saving medical care?"

      by 4CasandChlo on Thu May 05, 2011 at 08:33:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I work from home, do most of the cooking (5+ / 0-)

        and shuttle the kids around at least as much as my female spouse.

        My kids sometimes call me "Mom" by accident, maybe because our roles are rather fluid and that makes any given situation feel like a "Mom" one to them.

        They see me as one of their unique parents and that's more than enough happiness for me.  The name doesn't matter.

        "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

        by wader on Thu May 05, 2011 at 11:09:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  :-) (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wader, Marko the Werelynx, slksfca, kyril
          They see me as one of their unique parents and that's more than enough happiness for me.

          Isn't it the greatest feeling? Thanks.

          LEGALIZE TRANS* !!!! and think free...

          by bluesheep on Thu May 05, 2011 at 12:03:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, and like you offered, it's sometimes (4+ / 0-)

            the primary reason we keep moving forward.  Thank goodness - even beyond the love, kids can be life-savers.

            My chronic pain condition and related issues inhibits my ability to do everything I used to with the kids, but they don't appear to show that as being a real problem - probably because they understand, even sympathize, and we still share so much interaction on an overall basis.  Some days the pain stays at 9 out of 10 and makes you think of horribly negative, personal things . . . but, if they kids need a pickup from school or to finish some homework, the pain can be managed more easily for that period of time, quite often.

            They accept and rely on the notion that I'm one of the two people who will lives to take care of them, which has been a life-altering experience for me in all good ways.

            "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

            by wader on Thu May 05, 2011 at 12:24:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  What an amazing diary (29+ / 0-)

    which not only educated me regarding the multiple issues related to transitioning, but also the complexities of motherhood.

    You appear to have already finely tuned sensibilities about self and your children -- I am pretty confident you will manage the beard issue.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Thu May 05, 2011 at 07:06:21 AM PDT

    •  thanks! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marko the Werelynx, kyril, slksfca

      Now I just need to hope my beard fills in nicely ;-)

      You know, I think all relationships are complex, and we as a society simply have a tendency to want simplicity and clarity. Especially in the age of the tweet and the soundbyte. We don't deal well with ambiguity and ambivalence.

      LEGALIZE TRANS* !!!! and think free...

      by bluesheep on Thu May 05, 2011 at 12:07:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Be patient :) (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        slksfca, bluesheep

        7 months, and I still have less facial hair than the average woman (and what I do have is still invisible). Best not to focus on facial hair at first.

        •  lol, you're right. (0+ / 0-)

          Actually, I already have a fair mustache without T that I used to bleach. Don't mean to make you jealous ;-)

          I've been using minoxidil (rogaine) for hair loss on my head for years now and that seems to be a side effect.

          You're right - in fact it's probably best not to focus on any one thing. I'm concentrating on stuff I have complete control over, like hair and wardrobe.

          If I could pick any one thing to I'd like most, it would be my voice. I can't wait to not have to sing the blues an octave "too high" ;-)

          LEGALIZE TRANS* !!!! and think free...

          by bluesheep on Thu May 05, 2011 at 10:56:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  This is an incredible diary (24+ / 0-)

    Congratulations on your drive to be your authentic self. Like you said, whether they call you Mom or not, you are a fantastic role model!!

    so long as the profit motive is more important than the Hippocratic Oath, we will never get to where we as a nation must ultimately go


    I'm also one of the Angry Gays.

    by wyldraven on Thu May 05, 2011 at 07:09:28 AM PDT

  •  In answer to your question - (22+ / 0-)

    Yes!

    (And if through your transformation, at somepoint you are called Daddy instead ... that is just a word.  You sound like the kind of parent any child would be lucky to have.)

    Okay. I'm thoroughly confused, but it's cool.

    by Edge PA on Thu May 05, 2011 at 07:12:41 AM PDT

  •  Motherhood is definitely not just a biological (21+ / 0-)

    thing. Are adopted mothers any less of a mother because they didn't give birth to their children? Would a woman who had a double mastecomy because of cancer be any less of a mother? How about a hysterectomy? It's not the "plumbing" it's the caring.

    As soon as you have people telling other people how to live/think/behave because "god gave them authority" you effectively get dictators in funny looking hats.

    by ontheleftcoast on Thu May 05, 2011 at 07:17:48 AM PDT

  •  I think you are always Mom. (19+ / 0-)

    Kids are cool, aren't they? I think they've saved many parents over the course of human history.

    Being a mom isn't about having a beard or peachy smooth skin. It's about the connection. I'll bet they still call you Mom.

  •  This diary is going to resonate in my mind (14+ / 0-)

    . . . for awhile. I have had a variety of responses, some of which surprised me, and not in a good way.

    I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

    by CherryTheTart on Thu May 05, 2011 at 07:31:42 AM PDT

  •  Labels (19+ / 0-)

    are crap.

    I'm the stay at home parent these days. In many ways my role in this family is closer to that role played by my mother in my childhood.

    And yet, I'm "Dad"

    Thanks for sharing your journey. I don't know if you've already done it or not, I won't be the one to play with the labels (er, Tags) for this diary at any rate, but I've dropped it into the republish queue for the Street Prophets group.

  •  just a question (4+ / 0-)


    How do your children feel about it?  You said they don't 'need your female parts' but do they need their mother?

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Thu May 05, 2011 at 07:37:17 AM PDT

    •  they need their parent (8+ / 0-)

      They need the person.  The happy, healthy, whole parent.

      Bluesheep has obviously waited until his children are old enough to understand what's going on. You don't know the family or the children.

      Do I see your transphobia showing? Because that's what it looks like from here.

      "Them as can do has to do for them as can't. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices." — Terry Pratchett

      by LoreleiHI on Thu May 05, 2011 at 09:03:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  i was asking the diarist (4+ / 0-)


        who posted the question about whether he will still be "Mom" and I asked the question on that basis.  The reason I asked was due to the news presentation made a few years back about Chloe Prince, who made the transition from male to female, and the interviews with the children were not ambivalent - they were in shock, and one of them told the journalist: "I'm losing my father, I don't want another mother, I want my father back."  Hence my question.

        "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

        by louisev on Thu May 05, 2011 at 10:03:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why don't you check out (4+ / 0-)

          http://www.colage.org/ and educate yourself a bit better.

          One interview is not an education. An anecdote is not a survey.

          "Them as can do has to do for them as can't. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices." — Terry Pratchett

          by LoreleiHI on Thu May 05, 2011 at 10:26:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Folks are defensive (6+ / 0-)

          A lot of vile prejudice comes out in diaries that are intended to make people question their prejudices.

          I don't know you. I'm not about to judge your intentions.

          I thought you asked reasonable questions. Some families are so wrapped up in the baggage that goes along with labels that a 'simple' changing of labels can actually tear apart the family itself. Some people really get attached to crap.

          I think from what I've read elsewhere from bluesheep that his kids support him fully in this transition and would probably call him "Great, Wise Thunder Titan!" if they felt it would make bluesheep feel better.

          I also wonder what the kids are thinking about labels at this point. I also had the thought, before DK4 ate the long winded comment I'd composed to LoreleiHI, that if the kids used 'biological father' and 'father' for their parents it might provide a distinction that would make the awkwardness of changing labels a bit smoother. Maybe just 'father' and 'dad'-- 'Dad' is so much cuddlier.

          •  well, i am not sure (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bluesheep, kyril


            I can't say for bluesheep, and if his kids are behind it and are supportive, that's great - but that isn't mentioned in the diary - which is why I asked.  However, you also say it's a 'label' - sex reassignment surgery is not a label, and it is far more than cosmetic or even major surgery - it is a change of sex role within a family, and in many cases - the ones i have read - can and often does, lead to the dissolution of the family unit - having married a woman, the non-transitioning male spouse is now living with a man.  It wasn't in the prenup.  It was the transition I was asking about, not the label of Mom or Dad.

            "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

            by louisev on Thu May 05, 2011 at 11:00:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sex reassignment surgery (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril, bluesheep

              is not a label. Well, that was obvious I thought. I think it's a readjustment of the meatsack. Which is what all surgery is.

              It is not by any stretch of my imagination a change of role which is I think the point of all this. Roles are the parts we play in this grand theatre of the absurd we call life. As in actual theater what role we play is not determined by what set of naughty bits are covered by the costume.

              I can understand the difficulties faced by someone when their spouse decides that enough is enough and opts for transitioning. That's rather a different discussion though. That's sexuality! Back to the kids. If the kids are having trouble getting over some Freudian sexual baggage that attaches a freakish devotion to labels and genitalia instead of loving and supporting the human beings attached to the organs well, all I can do is wish them well with their own journeys because it is going to be difficult for them to readjust their priorities enough to really love anyone.

              Seriously, if one of my parents had decided to transition it would have been easier for me to take than if they had decided to vote for McCain or Bush. A lot of families just aren't strong enough to handle much of anything.

              •  since i don't know (0+ / 0-)

                not being a transsexual, I would have to pose that question to those who are:  is sex reassignment just a "readjustment of the meatsack" ?  

                "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

                by louisev on Thu May 05, 2011 at 12:46:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Basically, yes. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sberel, bluesheep, Marko the Werelynx

                  The hormone treatment is rather more complex, as it has effects on our moods, expression of emotion, and the way we're socially perceived. However, neither really changes who we are.

                  People who are close to trans people can get rather confused, because transition often frees us to stop acting so much and start being ourselves. It also sometimes forces us to start conforming to a different set of cultured gender expectations. The amount of behavioural change varies quite a bit - trans women's tends to be dramatic, while trans men (who can usually pretty much be ourselves our whole lives) usually make a much subtler shift. But the important thing is that while this change is in some ways enabled by physical transition, it's not caused by it.

              •  I could kiss you for this. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Marko the Werelynx

                This made me laugh:

                Seriously, if one of my parents had decided to transition it would have been easier for me to take than if they had decided to vote for McCain or Bush.

                And this made me clap:

                I can understand the difficulties faced by someone when their spouse decides that enough is enough and opts for transitioning. That's rather a different discussion though. That's sexuality! Back to the kids. If the kids are having trouble getting over some Freudian sexual baggage that attaches a freakish devotion to labels and genitalia instead of loving and supporting the human beings attached to the organs well, all I can do is wish them well with their own journeys because it is going to be difficult for them to readjust their priorities enough to really love anyone.

                LEGALIZE TRANS* !!!! and think free...

                by bluesheep on Thu May 05, 2011 at 11:08:49 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  /sigh (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Marko the Werelynx

              You fail reading comprehension.

              The family unit is already dissolved. Bluesheep is a single parent.

              So again, I see pure transphobia, because this issue you bring up IS NOT AN ISSUE.

              "Them as can do has to do for them as can't. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices." — Terry Pratchett

              by LoreleiHI on Thu May 05, 2011 at 12:49:20 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Damn (0+ / 0-)

                It must be my allergies mucking up my sniffer. It took me much too long to figure that out.

                You're good. Really good!

                And draped with Pratchett quotes... that's downright dangerous.

                Alright playtime is over for Marko. Time to put away the troll scented tinkleball<--- Wasn't that just an amazing disengage and redirect?

                Seriously, what was I thinking?

              •  so there isn't an answer to the question (0+ / 0-)

                sex reassignment is 'only a rearrangement of the meatsack"?  how is asking a question to learn more about transgender and transsexual perspective a 'pure transphobia' ?

                And no, it isn't obvious from the diary that the 'family unit is already dissolved.'  There is a brief mention of an ex-husband who is an asshole... to go from there to the conclusion you made would require actual knowledge beyond the diary.

                Let me ask you a question I KNOW is an issue:  how do you expect anyone who isn't already a transsexual to understand anything about the issues surrounding sex reassignment if your reaction to their asking some obvious questions that need answers is to call them transphobes?

                "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

                by louisev on Thu May 05, 2011 at 04:42:49 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Reassignment (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bluesheep, Marko the Werelynx

                  Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS) is "only" a reajustment of the meatsack.

                  Sexual Reassignment is a complex array of steps, including social, psychological, hormonal and surgical changes, all hopefully aimed to help a person better present themselves as themselves.  Not all transsexuals receive all four.  In particular, state of the art SRS is still somewhat ... limited for transmen.  Many jurisdictions require SRS, however, before they legally recognize the sexual identity of the individual.

                  •  Thanks for those 'italics' (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    figleef

                    I should perhaps have posted my reply with "surgery" in bold, underline, italics.

                    Maybe in a different font, double the points, sprinkle in a few a few extra picas, stuff it into a blockquote and surround it with flappy little GIFF animations...

                    I do try to make my points clear. I do try to engage and understand. I do try to give folks the benefit of a doubt as to their motives. Am I being deliberately misread? Maybe I'm just deliberately abrasive. <Skritch, skritch>

                    Ah, the joys of miscommunication on the Great Orange Satan. Sigh, not that I do any better at home in lil' Blue...

                    </pathetic, whining self-pity rant>

                    Thanks for pointing out stuff that I'm woefully ignorant about. I've not given much thought about the legal aspects of changing gender.

                    •  Info on Transsexuality (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Marko the Werelynx

                      I like flappy little GIFF animations :-)  But some might have unpredictable reactions.

                      Two very good friends of mine are a transsexual couple (one FtM, one MtF), which gave me plenty of opportunities for learning.  One of them refuses to be part of the local transsexual community, in part for the same reasons that seem to be frustrating louisev.  The defensiveness that some transsexuals have (generally come by honestly from dealing with years of attacks, discrimination, abuse and sometimes clinical dysmorphia) can make communication difficult.

                      He's obviously fine perfectly fine with transsexuals, but the larger the group, the more likely that there will be some defensiveness and its various manifestations, which set his teeth on edge so he stays away.

                      It's difficult to talk about trans issues, especially if, like you and I, we're not living them directly.  My gender identity is pretty fluid, which helps when the topic is gender issues, but I'm well aware that I'm coming from a position of privilege, and that requires me to tread carefully (or be silent) when it comes to some trans issues.

                      I'm privileged because I've been able to avoid most discrimination, because the issues I have with myself aren't issues that force me to contemplate scrounging together thousands of dollars I can't afford to get major surgery and/or massive doses of hormones, at the risk of losing my family, my friends, my job.  This doesn't make me better than anybody else, if anything it makes me less knowledgeable, less understanding of where they're coming from.

                      It does, however, make me less invested, less likely to get defensive, and so I try to share what information I have when I think it might be useful, as carefully and accurately as I can.

            •  Please take a look (4+ / 0-)

              at this page,
              PFLAG transgender page, this brochure, nice overview of basic issues,  Lynn Conway's site is excellent.  Keep looking for additional resources.

              I am not sure if there is a history involved with you and trans folk here on dailykos but a piece of advice:

              Stop talking as the back and forth here is getting increasingly hostile.

              Questions are ok, but you really ought to do enough basic research to be able to demonstrate that you have a more than passing understanding of the issues first.  Read first, ask later.

              I think some of my best understandings have been from just attending PFLAG meetings and listening and learning.

              Good luck.

              What is the most loving thing I can do, right now? Rev Dr Mary Harrington

              by sberel on Thu May 05, 2011 at 04:30:58 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  well thank you for at least replying (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Marko the Werelynx, bluesheep


                but the fact is I do have more than a 'passing background' and know far more about transgender/transsexual issues than your average person, but is not the same as getting information directly from somebody who has put a diary out there for open discussion.  However, what I have not found out as yet is whether the Chloe Prince case is unique or unusual, and asking another person with multiple children about the family dynamics and the transition issues with the children, to find out whether that happens in many cases or is rare.  But bluesheep hasn't decided to reply, and some other members here decided my questions were not in earnest.  So be it, I will not learn from this source.  Have a great day!  

                Note to the diarist: if you do not welcome info requests from the community at large, it might be wise to mark the diary as closed to questions.

                "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

                by louisev on Thu May 05, 2011 at 04:47:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Mr. Incredible. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Marko the Werelynx

            They actually call me Mr. Incredible sometimes, other times Admiral...

            In our case their father is called Papa, since he speaks German with them. So "Dad" would be an option.  

            LEGALIZE TRANS* !!!! and think free...

            by bluesheep on Thu May 05, 2011 at 11:02:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  the Rolling Stones have an answer to that... (0+ / 0-)

          ...you can't always get what you want... you just might find, you get what you need.

          I think it's important to consider what children want, but to also remember that is is more important to give children what they need than what they want.

          Growing up I certainly wanted a lot of things to be different, but I had everything I needed. My children have all the love and attention and guidance they need. And I am not of the opinion that children always need two parents, on male and one female. I think there are all sorts of varieties of "nontraditional" families that offer a wonderful setting for children to grow up in.

          As long as the parent doesn't withdraw physically or emotionally, the child is not losing the parent. They are simply not getting what they want, and that's not bad for a child.

          p.s. I find this discussion fascinating, I feel another diary brewing. Thanks

          LEGALIZE TRANS* !!!! and think free...

          by bluesheep on Fri May 06, 2011 at 05:13:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Hmmmm. (0+ / 0-)

      I don't know exactly how my kids feel about my trans-ness, since they don't know yet - I'm reflecting on all of this before coming out them, precisely because it's such a big deal for them.

      I know they're not hung up on gender roles, since they tell me frequently that they think it's cool how I can fix everything and grill and do other stuff usually papas do. They even said I was like a second papa. We do everything together, from sewing to woodworking to visiting museum, and they consider themselves lucky to have me as a parent.

      And this:

      but do they need their mother?

      ...is easy in our case. Yes they do, and they will not be losing their mother. I may end up looking different, but the relationships remain intact. In fact I can't imagine behave any differently than I do now, so the only thing to miss would be the appearance. I don't see how it could be important for them for their mother to have a female appearance.

      I don't know if I answered your question. Hope so.  

      LEGALIZE TRANS* !!!! and think free...

      by bluesheep on Fri May 06, 2011 at 05:06:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  FWIW, on "Friends," when (10+ / 0-)

    Kathleen turner played Chandler's trans father, Chandler still called her Dad.

    Best of luck on this journey!

    So he says to me, do you wanna be a BAD boy? And I say YEAH baby YEAH! Surf's up space ponies! I'm makin' gravy WITHOUT THE LUMPS! HAAA-ha-ha-ha!!!

    by Cenobyte on Thu May 05, 2011 at 07:39:20 AM PDT

  •  My daughter resolved... (25+ / 0-)

    ...the matter of our relationship when I transitioned.  She refers to me as her parent rather than her father or mother.

  •  {{{ bluesheep }}} (13+ / 0-)

    Somehow this Old Testament tidbit comes to mind:

    Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child...[?]

    Wonderful post, my dear friend. You're truly amazing.

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Thu May 05, 2011 at 07:44:48 AM PDT

  •  From one experience I've witnessed... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, ChemBob, bluesheep

    It was the opposite situation, a man that the surgery done... his son never, ever forgave him to this day. Even though this friend of ours was always there for the son, the son no longer had a visual representation of his dad anymore. His dad was a Marine, a big burly tough guy basically. Now, he no longer has that image of the dad to brag about to his friends and all that. The son was less than 10 when the operation happened, and it's had a very real effect to this day.

    Children can have things explained to them, and they'll seem to understand things, but at their core, they're still children. It won't be easy for all of them. They may never accept it ever, they may. No one can say for sure.

    •  Never posted before but we are going through this (8+ / 0-)

      When you are a part of a family where one parent is transitioning, it is almost impossible to be as compassionate as you would be to a regular friend.  You would hug your friend.  Tell them how brave they are.  Tell them that they are doing the right thing.

      My teenage boys have lost their father.  We try to understand and accept.  God knows we try.  But at the core, it feels like a death.  

      Our loss and pain will haunt us forever.  There will be a silver lining somewhere but it is not easy for the spouse or the children.  The person transitioning is happy beyond belief breaking free of an entire life she created.  The spouse and children are simply left to mourn.

      •  people who transition are not dead (5+ / 0-)

        ...though the specifics of the thing may be sad and hard.

        I've definitely seen trans men and women step up for their kids' educations, for their kids' challenges, to provide a roof and help to adult children...whether they still go by mom or dad, and whether their kids fully accept the matter or not.  

        Some say "I'm still your dad" and some say "don't call me that!"  Some are ruined economically by transition and can't be there for their kids...which has its own profound set of implications.  It is a complex thing to surf.  

        I've got no kids.  But have watched this done well and done badly by other trans folks.  Some of that is in their control, some not.  I've heard so very much pain on the matter, from both trans people and significant others.  I don't think anyone realistic expects it to be all cheers and forward motion.  And it varies so much, by character, by circumstance, by who the kids are becoming, by how the person approached gender in their previous life...

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Thu May 05, 2011 at 11:58:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for sharing this. (5+ / 0-)

        There are so many things about transitions that can be painful - both for the trans person and for the loved ones. And though I can only speak for myself, I know it to be true of others: this is something not done on a whim, but because the suffering of being in the wrong body is so overwhelming, that it becomes a matter of transition or death.

        And I hope that someday you do see the silver lining. I hope your boys have gained a parent that is capable of giving them the support they need. My kids' father is still a biological man, but he just took off.  I think (and I truly believe this) that for them it's most important that I'm always there for them, not that they have a woman parent in their lives.

        One of the reasons I want to get my story out there is to create awareness. I only very recently realized I'm transgender. Many of us live for decades doing the best we can, trying in good faith to lead an honest life, and feeling horrible without knowing why. I don't believe a transgender person would knowingly create a life they would later not be able to continue living in. It's hard for everybody. And though I will be glad to enjoy my new body, I will also mourn the woman I was. But that's a topic for another diary.

        LEGALIZE TRANS* !!!! and think free...

        by bluesheep on Thu May 05, 2011 at 01:14:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  the mourning meme... (5+ / 0-)

          ...is an interesting one.  

          I dropped a friend cold for it.  But I do get it, or think I do.  

          There are some relationships that were changed profoundly by transition.  In my case, bi men who had seen me as an ally felt terribly betrayed.  And of course, almost every ex -- boy or girl -- felt a bit weird about it.   And I can hardly say that someone in that spot isn't entitled to feel sad about the matter.

          But some people took it way too damn far.  At some point, you're still sitting there, you're still you, and they are all "I'm mourning the loss of the person I used to know".  And it's like, what??? At some point it crosses into "why aren't you decently dead"?

          There's so many issues the commenter's post touches on though...a person who is transitioning often goes from being a member of society, able to offer a life as a normal person and all that conveys, to being someone fighting for the most basic sort of stuff, in the world and in themselves.  Everyone close to you is suddenly queer by proxy, and whatever they had hoped for often is overshadowed by the enormous challenges at hand.  

          I often feel very bad for my parents, who have endured ridicule and contempt in their small community because of me.  They've been nothing but supportive, for the most part.  But they never asked for this, and people are so very unkind.

          ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

          by jessical on Thu May 05, 2011 at 02:48:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  thank you (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, slksfca, sberel, bluesheep


          for answering some of the question I posed above.  No, I was not trolling your diary, i was trying to ask a question about your kids' perspective since it wasn't covered in the diary, and I wanted to know more about it.  But some of your commenters thought I was somehow being unfair or unkind to you, so sorry for the misperception bluesheep.  Best wishes to you.

          "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

          by louisev on Thu May 05, 2011 at 04:51:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  no worries.:-) (0+ / 0-)

            I specifically wanted to wait on responding to your comments to make sure I get the whole picture.

            This is a difficult topic to discuss since it is obviously very personal to some of us, and we've often had very hurtful experiences packaged as questions.

            But it does still need to be possible to ask the questions. As a community we're going to have to learn as we go.

            You can feel free to message me if you have any questions you think might be too dicey for the diary comments - I'm planning on writing more (in the interest of increasing awareness, not in antagonism), maybe a diary or two will come of it.

            LEGALIZE TRANS* !!!! and think free...

            by bluesheep on Thu May 05, 2011 at 11:36:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I'm finding the opposite effect here (5+ / 0-)

      My kids adapted to their nearby cousin's becoming a male pretty naturally.  Once in a long while they accidentally say "she" even though they see him as a male and only use his new name, but they view him as a guy and it's been natural to them since I socialized the notion with them early on.

      Many adults I know have been far more skeptical and not nearly as accepting of this necessary transition as my kids.

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Thu May 05, 2011 at 11:33:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  (((((((((((((((((((((bluesheep)))))))))))))))))))) (10+ / 0-)

    What an excellent diary :)  Gave me lots to think about, especially as an infertile woman with non-standard chromosomes. Thanks VERY much.

                            Hugs,
                            Heather

    Torture is ALWAYS wrong, no matter who is doing it to whom.

    by Chacounne on Thu May 05, 2011 at 07:55:55 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for helping to expand my mind. (11+ / 0-)

    I heard a few years ago that a guy a year ahead of me in high school had undergone the transition.  As a gay man, I must confess I've never really understood that sexual orientation and gender identity are two different things.

    The case of the guy from high school was unusual (to me at least).  As a man he was heterosexual.  As a woman she is a lesbian.  I must confess it took a few months for me to wrap my mind around that.

    Until reading your diary, I'd never considered how the transition would affect family relationships (my mother is now a man).  I applaud you for you willingness to share your experience with us.

    The Republicans will take away your Social Security and Medicare....skralyx

    by mkfarkus on Thu May 05, 2011 at 08:14:27 AM PDT

  •  Neat thoughts (8+ / 0-)

    You will always be Mom.  Mom doesn't have to be female.  I have never thought about this part of a transition, but reading your diary, it makes perfect sense.

    Thank you for sharing.  I love this site - sometimes reading things here makes me feel so much smarter.

    I am lucky enough to be (mostly) happy with my birth gender.  And it's nothing more than sheer luck of the biological dice.  But gender is far from being everything that I am.  You're so much more than 'just' a man.  As are we all.

  •  A fascinating thought-provoking diary... (6+ / 0-)

    Motherhood - and parent-hood in general - is a two way street really so a lot of your relationship with your children - and the perception of that relationship - will depend on how your children feel. And each may feel differently. I have no advice to offer but wish you all the best in dealing with not only the physical transition but also the possible changes in your relationships.

    Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

    by Ian S on Thu May 05, 2011 at 08:26:07 AM PDT

  •  Beautiful diary, thank you! (8+ / 0-)

    I'm with Marko the Tuftyears up there, labels are crap.

    It's completely cultural gender bias that so many of us associate "Mom" with "nurturing parent", and "Dad" with "working parent".  Once you're past breast feeding, there is nothing inherently nurturing about being the female parent, and as a single parent, you know deep in your bones by now that there's nothing inherently male about being the working parent.

    My parents divorced, and my mother had custody.  I always found my father more nurturing, and my mother more distant, with her head in her job and her coop board meetings and her paperwork.  Looking back as an adult, I see this was not as my mother expressed, because he had the luxury of being a part-time dad; it was because that honestly was who they were as people, and how they related themselves to us (also, not to sound like I'm disrespecting the role my mother played, she was a more skilled provider for my family than my father would have been, got us through some very lean times with room to spare for little fun luxuries that I value to this day).

    You're clearly a working parent; also, from what I've read from you over the past several months since I've met you online, you're clearly a nurturing parent.

    From where I sit, you don't need to be mom, you don't need to be dad, you just need to be there for your kids, which you are.  You can hold on to the label "mom" for a while if it gives you comfort, but I suspect it will make your transition harder.

    When you're ready to, I can see you releasing the "mom", letting that go.  You'll still have memories of being mom, when your belly was big, when the labor pains started, when your nipples were breakfast, and your kids were so close it became hard to tell sometimes where you stopped and they started.

    There is an old saying, "you cannot step in the same stream twice".  Transitioning or not, Motherhood floated by a few years back, the stream you're in now is a sex-independent Parenthood.  No need to mourn its loss, enjoy the memories, and how it helped bring you here, and enjoy here, now, where you have a chance to nurture and support what sound like some pretty cool kids...

  •  My thoughts as a straight guy (5+ / 0-)

    I'm a straight guy, comfortable in my gender identity and sexual orientation, and comfortable with yours as well.

    My wife wears the tool-belt in the family.  I am frequently the nurturer to our children while she is more comfortable with handing out discipline than I am.

    Both of our boys cook and clean and do their own laundry.

    There are many ways to parent, and a parent is hugely important no matter what your gender or sex role.

    What I'm trying to say is that your issues aren't all unique to the trans community (though I can't know them all), and I wish you luck in the evolution that you face figuring out the best answers for your own life, as you and those around you change over time.

    I love your last thought.  It really doesn't matter what they call you.  It matters who you are to them.

    Numbers are like people . . . Torture them enough and they'll tell you anything.

    by Actuary4Change on Thu May 05, 2011 at 08:45:31 AM PDT

  •  You've been the best Mom you could be (4+ / 0-)

    but maybe now, with the beard and all, it might help to be something else -- Dad, or Momdad, or Parent.  Wishing your family good things.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Thu May 05, 2011 at 09:06:20 AM PDT

  •  be who you are, don't worry about titles (6+ / 0-)

    or categories... your children will love you unconditionally regardless.  Your human essence, your heart, your love
    for you children doesn't change and they know that.

    good luck to you.

    It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. Ansel Adams -6.5 -6.75

    by Statusquomustgo on Thu May 05, 2011 at 09:06:34 AM PDT

  •  Love makes a good parent (7+ / 0-)

    And you sound like an amazing one.

    If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people. --Tony Benn

    by rhetoricus on Thu May 05, 2011 at 09:10:59 AM PDT

  •  Bluesheep, it sounds like you'll be a great parent (9+ / 0-)

    no matter what gender you present as.

    Check out http://www.colage.org/ for tips. They have stuff for you and your kids. I've been looking at it, since I'm now in state with my kids (my spouse is just out of the military, and is transsexual, I'm lesbian, and now it's time to come out. Fun!).

    "Them as can do has to do for them as can't. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices." — Terry Pratchett

    by LoreleiHI on Thu May 05, 2011 at 09:28:02 AM PDT

  •  Wonderful diary (4+ / 0-)

    Your reflections on your body as a vehicle resonate.  I'm straight, but felt a heck of a lot more peace with my physique once the breasts became useful. Complicated issues with the plumbing that made me envy and even resent women who could carry to term effortlessly, but again, I am at peace with my plumbing now that it had added a dimension to my life.

    As I said, I am straight and have never considered myself to have a gender conflict, but I have never been a particularly feminine woman, physically or mentally. What has helped me not feel bothered by my lack of frilliness is knowing or perhaps learning that all things are on a continuum.

    Physically, I used to hate having c-cup breasts because it made me look less athletic (I was quite the hoyden). I remember reflecting as a preteen that it would be way cool if women could grow beards, too. Later on, my hormones played a stupid fucking trick on me and I began to develop a scraggly-looking beard that, if I let it grow, would be rather sparse and Fu Manchu-like. I changed my tune on the beard and have never accepted it, despite the fact that women are not the glabrous, hairless creAtures that merchants need us to believe.  Oh well. So that's just me.

    Your story, and others', make me more curious about the threshold between being "not very feminine or butch" and gender identification. Now please excuse me while I grab the tweezers and attack any misguided terminal hairs.

    Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

    by rhubarb on Thu May 05, 2011 at 09:29:36 AM PDT

  •  Mommy is a vocation not a gender (5+ / 0-)

    Why shouldn't you continue to hold the title, if you fulfilled the role?

    My lived-with-us granddaughter used to call me "Dad." At the time, it was a pretty accurate description of the job I had. Far as I can tell, this isn't that different!

    If apes evolved from humans, why are there still humans?

    by Bobs Telecaster on Thu May 05, 2011 at 10:11:27 AM PDT

  •  The word "parent" has no gender (6+ / 0-)

    You were a parent before transition and you will be a parent after it.  Being a parent is all about your relationship to your children, not your gender.  You'll still love them, worry about them, fret about them, and be proud of them even once you have a beard.  Your body may change, but your heart will not.  And in this case, that is the only organ that matters.

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Thu May 05, 2011 at 10:15:01 AM PDT

  •  You will be their parent. The gender of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bluesheep, Marko the Werelynx

    a primary caregiver is unimportant, and you have clearly given yourself to nurture your children.  My grandfather did the same for me.  He and my grandmother took care of me for the first 3 years of my life, then 3 months out of the year, every year until he could no longer when I was ~12.  My grandmother was also wonderful, but she died when I was 5.  In my heart, mind, and memory my grandfather was my primary caregiver.  I try to model myself as a mother on his superb, exemplary, loving, selfless, patient care of me.  My actual parents of either gender, just did not have it in them to do what he, thankfully, was able to, and did so beautifully.  He was male, he was old, he was grief stricken after his wife died, and he was not even my actual parent, but he was that essential role for me.

    Your children will likely do likewise with your example, whether you are bearded or breasted, it does not matter.  Only your patience, understanding, nurturing and love, the essence of parenthood, matter.

    "On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps...of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again."

    by middleagedhousewife on Thu May 05, 2011 at 10:23:09 AM PDT

  •  You'll find what works for you (4+ / 0-)

    and your kids.  Let it flow.

    We had a woman and her family speak at one of our PFLAG meetings.  The kids all called her their dad.  It'll be as you all want it to be.

    What is the most loving thing I can do, right now? Rev Dr Mary Harrington

    by sberel on Thu May 05, 2011 at 10:46:44 AM PDT

  •  ALL "moms" eventually have beards (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bluesheep, Marko the Werelynx, kyril

    most get them when they go 'through the change'  and in a way that is how you will get yours too so you will still be MOM  ;)

  •  After reading (4+ / 0-)

    ...both the diary and the comments, the only things I have to add that hasn't already been added are my good thoughts and support.

    Excellent diary. Tipped and rec'd.

    The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there. - Yasutani Roshi

    by lotusmaglite on Thu May 05, 2011 at 11:47:27 AM PDT

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