Trans Dads Talk About Father's Day
BY Mitch Kellaway
June 15 2014 7:45 PM ET
Today, countless transgender dads celebrate Father's Day in family shapes both diverse and beautiful. To celebrate, we talked to four trans dads about their families, their plans for today, and the unique challenges and triumphs of being trans dads.
Below, Sam, Simon, Willy, and Jesse offer glimpses of unique paths to fatherhood — including birthing children prior to transition, supporting a partner in giving birth, and being a single, pregnant father — and different ways of seeing oneself as a trans dad, ranging from not really identifying with being a "trans" father to having frank ongoing conversations about transition to being inspired to take action as a feminist father raising his own sons free of gender prejudices.
My wife and I have five children. I actually had the first two, who are 16 and 14. Both girls. My wife had the second two pregnancies — a boy who is nine and twins — a boy and girl — who are six. We used an anonymous donor.
I don't really use the term "trans dad." I accept that I am trans, and not in any kind of denial about it, but, I just consider myself a Dad — or really a PARENT. That's what I am. The name is just a name — kind of like a pronoun.
Mom = Female Parent and Dad = Male Parent. I am well adjusted in my transition and have not looked back in any way; I have no regrets. I love my wife and children, and although we are a very busy family, I am very fortunate and lucky to have the incredible support of my family and friends.
How will you be celebrating Father’s Day today?
We are going to a nice restaurant for brunch and I think, although I am not supposed to know, they have some secret cards and gifts that some of the younger kids made. My wife seems to have a secret place where she made sure to tell me "not to go in there." So, maybe some ties [laughter]. We used to buy my Dad ties, and that seems to still be a tradition.
Do you have a memorable Father's Day from years past?
My first official Fathers Day was a few years ago, and it was kind of awkward. I still felt a bit strange because for years I celebrated Mother's Day and was so used to the kids calling me "Mom." It took some time for me to get used to being called "Dad." Not because it did not feel "right" or a welcome change, but, socialization plays such a huge part in how the brain just kind of gets used to things being a certain way.
I think I was also a bit self-conscious. Once my own mother made a point of saying to me " this is your first Dad's Day" with a smile, that seemed to make a big difference. I kind of like it, as it makes me feel special. For a long time, my wife and I kind of shared the limelight of Mother's day. It's nice to have my own special day — not just for me, but, my kids really enjoy it!
Are there advantages to being a trans dad?
I don’t necessarily see any advantages. Nothing more than any other parent out there. It's special to be a parent and get to raise a child.
I see myself as a parent, first and foremost. As a team, my wife and I share responsibilities in helping to raise our children. I do hope that I can have a good influence as a father figure in my children's lives. Although, I am really from the mindset that children need love and support, discipline and structure as well, but that it does not matter if I was a female or male... that my impact on my kids is special and unique to the person/individual that I am, not about what gender I am.
I feel confident that my kids are being raised in this way; that gender does not have to be central to who you are. We are shaped and defined in so many other ways that are important and valuable.
Do you face any unique issues as a trans dad?
The only unique issues were the changes I made mid-way, as they all have some kind of memory of me when I used to be a "Mom" or a girl. The younger ones do not remember as much, as they were pretty young, but, the older children do remember. But, you know, it is not a big deal to them.
My kids have made the transition, in some ways, much better than I have. It's been seamless in most ways for them. They are very supportive and there is not a lot of discussion about the past. We try to be a family who stays "present" and looks to the future. Not just with my transition, but with everything.