Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Becoming a Trans Mom

Speaking as a Trans Mom, I wonder how many of us really think all that clearly about how transitioning will affect the dynamic of our relationships with those closest to us.  Certainly I had plenty of time to think but not in a very rational way.  Instead, I grew up with a fear of disappointing people around me.  

Before I began to transition, and for many years previous to that I worried and feared about what might happen if I ever had the courage to come out to my family and friends or even to discuss with them how I felt.  As an older child and later as a teenager, I knew that there were multiple expectations about who I was and what I  might become.  To various people in my life, I was a son, grandson, nephew, mate, and boyfriend.  I might have been really uncomfortable being all those things but that was how other people expected me to be.  I learned to conform and try to live up to those expectations only to make myself increasingly depressed and suicidal.

Myself and Beth, my youngest daughter
Only now after over 6 years of transitioning  have I come to the realisation of how being a woman has has changed my role within my extended family and how much I’ve had to learn in a short space of time.  Far more than make-up, vocal and deportment skills and way beyond dressing appropriately and passing.

I have two daughters.  One now an adult, the other almost 17.  My youngest was a preteen girl when I began my transition and we moved in to an apartment in the town where we live now.  Yes, I did expect the horrors of being a trans woman caring for a child.  I knew that I might encounter problems with dealing with schools, clinics and hospitals.  Who was I? people wanted to know.  My daughter’s Auntie? her Mom? her Mom’s friend?  I had the bitter experience early in my transition of having to take my daughter to hospital late at night, minus my make-up and  my hair in a mess.  I was challenged and interrogated about who I was.  Later following my inevitable complaint the documents released reluctantly by the hospital showed that I had been recorded as ‘a man dressed as a woman’.  No, what took me unawares at first was dealing with my daughter’s first periods, talking about boys, listening to her problems with other girls at school, being a comforting Mom, teaching make-up skills, helping her choose clothes, basically just being a Mom.

I was no more prepared either for the responsibilities and of being a ‘good’ daughter and caring for my aging parents, becoming essentially a ‘sister’ to my ex-partner, an auntie to my nephews and nieces and strangest of all, BFF and confidante to a long time friend going through an acrimonious divorce with her husband.  I have embraced and enjoyed all of this as being part of my life.  It came as a welcome and not wholly expected ‘extra’ to coming out and transitioning.

All of this is really controversial stuff if I pause to think about it.   I’m describing I suppose what society thinks as essentially female roles and skills.  I’m well aware that many of my (former!) feminist friends would look down (no, do look down) on the way I have slipped into what are essentially traditional female roles.  I have occasionally been used (misused?) as an example of ‘the dangerous practice of transgenderism’.  I have also been accused of swapping one set of expectations about being male, for those of being female.

I didn’t covet the role of Mom, carer and homemaker.  Like many women my age, born in the late 50’s I have taken it on because I enjoyed seeing my family grow and blossom and was willing to take on all the other jobs that ‘went with it’.  I enjoy being a Mom because I enjoy caring and nurturing and because I love my daughters.  I love them to bits.  Do I need any other justification?  I hope not.  That I am a Trans Mom is by the by.  I am a Mom first and foremost and Trans second.  I hope that makes sense.

I would love to hear how other LGBT Men and Women have coped with their changing relationships.  Let me know :-)

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