I am not a stereotypical parent. This is not to say that I never nagged my children to do their homework and care for their teeth or that I wouldn’t given anything to protect them from the evils of the world. I did and I would. It’s also not to say that I don’t miss them terribly now that they are grown with lives of their own; I do. Or that I’m not super excited about my first grandbaby, due later this year; I am.
No, where I fall out of the stereotype is in my own personal expression of gender; you see, I am a transgender woman. This means that I live my life – legally and socially – as a woman, despite being assigned male at birth. And, I have done so for the past two decades, since my children were 7, 9, and 11 years old.
This has presented its share of interesting stories, some fun and funny, some sad or even tragic. But, each year, as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day approach, I channel my own mother’s need for acknowledgment from our offspring and approach the mailbox each day with some excitement, and some dread. Will I get a card? How will they handle the gendered nature of such cards? Mother’s Day cards reflect my gender identity properly and many young people have more than one mom, so that would seem to be apropos.
However, my children were young enough when I first began to transition that I believed it was important for them to know that I was not trying to replace their mother and that I would always be their father. For that reason, and based upon their own choice, they have always called me “Dad” or “Daddy”. So, it seems that a Father’s Day card might be appropriate. But, I am not a man and these cards universally invoke a masculine image.
My youngest daughter solved this dilemma one year by buying me a Father’s Day card that not only acknowledged my parentage, but my ineptitude with home repair tools when she chided me that I, too, could have my own Home Repair Show, as long as it was on the Comedy Channel. Where the card referred to “he”, she took her pen and inked in an “s”.
Parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender are, first and foremost, parents. Although the greeting card industry has yet to fully embrace our existence, we take a great deal of comfort in the fact that our children do.
In my final analysis, I am proud to be my children’s parent. I am proud of them and their successes. Professionally, my three daughters grew up to be an Engineer, a Scientist, and a Doctor of Family Relations. They are each happy. What more could a parent want? In that, I suppose I do fit the stereotype.