Becoming the "Other Mother"

BY Advocate.com Editors

July 20 2010 4:15 AM ET

Eden Lane is a Colorado-based journalist who broke ground during the 2008 Democratic National Convention as the first transgender journalist to cover a major political event for PBS. She is currently working on a memoir of her journey from Broadway performer to suburban housewife. Eden and her husband, Don Gassaway, married eight years ago. They have a 12-year old daughter.

When did you know you wanted to have children?
Early in my dance career I taught. Being around young children was a delightful experience, and my own childhood was loving. My husband already had a daughter when we met, so even though I wanted to have a family, it was an important decision to become my daughter's “other mother” (she decided that “stepmother” was not a good fit, so “other mother” it is).

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a parent?
The biggest lesson for me has been, I have more courage than I give myself credit for. Put less value on the opinion of others; the most magical part of love isn’t trying to get it, it's giving it ... that's how it multiplies beyond anything I imagined.

Have you or your children ever faced discrimination as an LGBT family?
Since we are not often seen as an LGBT family, we have not faced discrimination, but we have made choices based on LGBT families being outwardly welcome -- community involvement, family friendships, even vacations.

While we don't keep my medical history a secret, it isn't something we bring up. Other women don't seem to treat me differently. Transgender people are often invisible as members of the LGBT community if they build families that look like other heterosexual families. We lost one couple of friends early on, but looking back, I can’t say we think of it as a loss. I am concerned about my daughter suffering discrimination because I’m her mother. That is why we are so protective of her privacy. If it were up to her, she would let everyone know.

What might people be surprised to learn about your family?
Most people are surprised to learn I am not the biological parent, and many might be surprised to learn we are part of the LGBT community.

What has been the biggest surprise you’ve encountered about being a parent?
Biggest surprise -- my daughter's capacity for love, art, music, and humor surprises me daily. But the biggest surprise is that I even have a family (and how often I sound just like my grandmother).
















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