Op-ed: A Born Mother, Even Though I Was Born Male
For LGBT Fertility Week, MyFertilityChoices.com is sharing a series of articles and essays about LGBT parenting with The Advocate. Click here for the original post.
I always knew that I wanted to be a mom. However, I was born a boy, so for the longest time, I didn’t think that this would ever happen. When I was younger I would play dress-up with my sister’s dolls and walk them around in a stroller, feed them with a bottle and soothe them to sleep. I loved to daydream and imagine what it would be like to be a mother. It made it especially challenging because I’m Japanese and my parents have always been very traditional. They were ashamed of me and punished me acting like a girl. I struggled through school, never feeling comfortable in my own body.
Eventually, after I couldn’t take the conflict anymore, I distanced myself from my family and moved to another city so I could build another life and be comfortable in my own skin. That’s when I began the sex reassignment transition process. It took many, many years of counselling, hormone treatment, and eventually surgery to become the woman that I had always felt I was born to be.
Becoming a mom proved even more difficult. I struggled with feeling like I couldn’t offer a man what a born-female could – the ability to carry and give birth to our child. Even though I had always lived on the fringes of what was “normal”, I still had this yearning to be part of a “normal” family – a dad, a mom (me), and two children. I was still programmed with the messages that my parents taught me when I was younger of what family is. Maybe that’s why my attempts to build relationships with hetero men failed miserably. I felt desperately alone – not fitting comfortably into either world of men or women. Around this time, I got involved with a local women’s centre and met Alice, a lively and dynamic woman. Our friendship developed quickly and soon we found ourselves entering into a romantic relationship – my first with a woman – and for her, the first with a trans-person. We talked about our hopes and dreams for the future openly from the start. We shared a desire to have children but were uncertain about the specifics – although we both knew we wanted our features and cultures (Alice is Irish) represented in our child.
We approached a local fertility clinic and talked about our options. Fortunately I had banked some of my sperm before my transition so once Alice became comfortable with the idea of a pregnancy – something she never thought she wanted and something I had dreamed about my entire life – Alice was inseminated with my sperm and after 4 tries she ended up pregnant!
Our daughter is now 8 months old and is the best thing that has ever happened in both our lives. We still have some of my frozen sperm in storage, and when Aleesa (that’s our daughter’s name) is a bit older, we’re going to try again for number two.
The big issue down the road is deciding when and if we should disclose to our kids that I was once a male. While we’re 100% comfortable raising our kids in a lesbian family, the sex reassignment feels like unchartered territory. We’ve booked a session to talk with a counsellor about how and when to approach this with our kids. No matter what, we always want our kids to feel as though they were conceived in love, and that they have nothing to feel ashamed about in terms of their parents or their non-traditional family. This may mean that we have to educate people in our children’s lives, but we’re ready – we’re two fiercely proud and loving mamas – just how I always imagined.