Trans Dads Talk About Father's Day

Four fathers, four stories.

BY Mitch Kellaway

June 15 2014 7:45 PM ET

WILLY WILKINSON
I have a son who just turned 8, a 4.5 yr old daughter, and a son who will turn 2 in July. My wife Georgia Kolias gave birth to our three kids. We went through ups and downs — difficulty conceiving, miscarriages — but also experienced miracles. It is an indescribable experience to be near a little person as they gestate, and experience their birth into the world.

How will you be celebrating this Father's Day today?
My kids will probably bring me handmade cards they made with cheerful drawings of us as a family. My daughter’s drawings have lots of big smiles and my son’s portray me with an impressive six-pack, which I find hilarious.

My wife Georgia usually makes incredible breakfasts on Sunday mornings, and this one will probably will be even more elaborate. We’ll probably eat bacon with pancakes or French toast or waffles topped with raspberry compote, fruit, smoothies, good coffee — yum. Then we might lollygag around in the backyard, climbing, sliding, and swinging on the play structure and making sure the plants have water.

That’s a perfect Father’s Day for me, just hanging out relaxing with my family. I remember one Father’s Day when I was covered with just about every bodily fluid — snot, tears, pee, and sweat — hanging out in the backyard on a sunny afternoon. It was perfect.

What have been some highlights of being a trans dad?
I support a family of five in the high-priced Bay Area, and the pressure can be intense. I am constantly working in order to provide for my family. But I feel a certain pride in my role as a hands-on dad and provider.

Honestly, I feel so happy being a trans dad. Being a dad makes me feel at peace with my gender because I get to express my masculinity more fully and be perceived as the person I am. Having kids has been transformative for me in that ultimately I can’t hide from myself. I have to be fully present. I also cannot indulge in my own self-involvement for too long because the focus is usually on ensuring that other people have their needs met.

Being a trans parent in a world that, for the most part, accepts me is phenomenal. Interacting with parents of my kids’ friends who have witnessed my transition, and haven’t had issues with my trans status has been very affirming.

Do you face any unique issues as a trans dad?
Some parents of my kids’ friends don’t know my trans status, and then it’s a question of when or if to disclose. Sometimes it seems very weird not to disclose, and other times it just seems unnecessary. Parenthood throws you into social situations with people you would not necessarily hang out with, except that your kids are friends.

I was a visibly gender nonconforming parent for years before I medically transitioned. There were moments that were challenging — being misgendered, having people freak out about me in front of my kids, using the restroom. Though I have to say that having kids got me into the women’s room more easily. I found that having kids made people be nicer to me. People who might have snarled at me when I was alone, smiled instead when they saw me with kids. I write about these experiences in my forthcoming memoir Born on the Edge of Race and Gender.

Tags: Transgender

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