Father's Day has rolled around once more, offering the transgender dads of the world another chance revel in what makes their parenting journeys special.
The Advocate asked self-identified trans fathers -- which includes both trans men and trans women -- to share a photo of themselves and their loved ones, with an anecdote about what parenthood means to them. The responses reveal a beautiful array of family shapes, values, and hopes from these fathers and fathers-to-be.
Below, meet nine dads, including Chad, a trans man who loves taking his baby to pride parades; Tiq, a thrilled expectant father; Jane, who's grown closer to her family through transition; and Wyatt, a dad who never expected to give birth but is now both a birth and stepfather, looking forward to bringing a third child into the world with his wife.
"I waited a long time to be a parent, and for a long time I didn't know how we were going to build our family, and it was very hard not to be impatient. But the day I gave birth to our daughter, Rowen, I looked at her for the first time and knew she was exactly who I had been waiting for. I love spending every day with her -- getting to watch her learn, grow, and explore the world around her. Every day I see a little more of who she is and who she is becoming, and I feel so lucky to be her papa and her friend." -- Stephen Stratton, Portland, Maine
"For me, fatherhood is an intentional rite of passage that has already begun, even though we're just at the end of the first trimester. My wife and I had been trying very hard to have a child over this last year. We wanted to bring our child into the world in a way that was safest and healthiest for us, which meant circumventing medical clinics and fertility treatments. We had a few confidential conversations with other queer and trans families who'd also chosen a similar route, but we negotiated the support of a donor and the conception of our child on our own. I already feel the weight of responsibility for our growing family as we begin rearranging our lives and putting in place a support network to ensure this kid's arrival is happy and healthy.
"Unlike cis-hetero couples, our path to parenthood is never a pleasant surprise or the result of a reckless passionate night. Ours is a strategic endeavor with lots of moving parts, cautionary tales, and money spent. I am already so invested in the life of this child! ... Our children will always know and respect that gender and sexuality are a spectrum of possibilities. They'll be loved and supported no matter where on the spectrum they may fall. Planning our family and thinking about our future has been the best time of our lives, and we can't wait to have little ones to share it with." -- Tiq Milan, New York City
"I've accomplished a lot in my life, but my children are, by far, my greatest accomplishment and I am proud to call myself their father. ...
"I struggled a lot with the idea of fatherhood as I transitioned. Was I giving up my role as father? What would my kids call me? After a while it occurred to me that regardless of the clothes I wore or medicines I took or surgeries I had, that I would always be their father. I would always be the one who played tickle-monster with them, who chided them for not doing as well in school as I thought they could do, and who gave them fatherly advice.
Now that they are older, I still want to be there for them as 'Dad,' whether that's giving them career advice, helping them sort through the complexities of adulthood, or even playing the role of banker. But my transition has helped me become a better father in an unexpected way: It has brought me closer to my adult daughters. I found it hard to relate to them as they got older. Sure, we talked, got along, and did stuff together, but we never shared anything like I've shared with my sons. That changed as I transitioned. I had a wonderful 'girls' weekend' with one of them in the Rockies recently, and the other one and I have plans to get our hair done together. ... At the same time, I can still enjoy the geeky hobbies with my boys we've always enjoyed. It really is the best of both worlds. I've even become closer to their mother." -- Jane White (pictured with daughter Jessie), St. Louis
"Anyone who knows me, knows my family is my world. I thought I found my only love when I met my wife, but then my daughters called me 'Daddy.' Being a father is a big responsibility, but there is no better reward than to feel their endless love and see their smiles light up a room." -- Giovanni Carlo, Philadelphia
"I discovered that I was pregnant and began my life as a queer solo parent when I was still just a teenager. I always knew that I wanted to have children and I had never wanted to give birth to them, but I went with the experience all the same. ... [Then] I fell in love with one of the best single moms I knew, and I married her and became a father to a second child. My children are 12 and 9 now, and along with my wife, they are my world. My wife and I are in the process of trying to conceive a third child and we are so in love with the intention of it all.
"I never planned for either of my children; they came about in such different ways, and it's so amazing to be in this place where we are creating this new little human together all of these years later. Many parts of me wish that it were an easier process, and yet none of this has been easy and all of it has been worth it. Coming from a family of origin where I never fit and still don't, the greatest adventure of my life has been being a father and a husband." -- Wyatt, Massachusetts
"I love being a trans father. My son is only 10 months old and I'm already teaching him to be an LGBT activist. I bring him with me when I educate students about gender identity. Having him there helps show the students that transgender people are capable of raising children in loving families. My wife and I also walked in the Long Beach Pride Parade with him for the first time this year. I love these special occasions when I can show off my family while being open about my gender identity. As my son grows up, he will have heard the story of my transition several times. It is my hope to teach him about gender equality and diversity so that he becomes an open-minded adult." -- Chad, Long Beach, Calif.
"Strangers and relatives inquire daily, 'Do you know what [you and your wife are] having? Boy or girl?!' As a trans person, I want to flail at them. It is as if they have learned nothing. As if biology is still destiny, when I am living proof that it is not. The truth is this: I do not care what parts my kid possesses. I care that my kid is healthy. I care that they are kind most of the time and that they apologize when they are not. I care that they have the self-determination and comprehensive knowledge to make the best decisions. And if the best decision for them ever includes coming out or transitioning, I will love and support them through whatever comes. I may mess up on pronouns from time to time, but I will apologize and make a renewed effort to get it right. After all, even trans fathers are human." -- Riley Johnson, Chicago
"I am proud to claim the title of Dad to Aimee, even though I am transgender and identify as female. Aimee (pictured above, left) is the most kind, loving, supportive, and accepting daughter that a person could have. She has stood up for transgender issues at her Catholic school and has even said that if she is dating a boy who has a problem with her dad being trans, he will have to either accept me or lose her. I couldn't be more proud of the person that she has become.
"I will always be her dad. ... When the time comes that she needs her father to walk her down the aisle, I will be proud to put on that monkey suit and be the person she needs me to be at that moment." -- Becky Lynn DuPree (pictured center with Aimee, and sister Kathy at right), Houston
"When I first broached my plans to transition to my kids, their mom and I felt they should have the right to call me by the name with which they feel most comfortable. They asked what I'd prefer, and I suggested 'Dad,' since I would always be their dad. All three immediately agreed. It can be awkward at times, as I warned them it would be, but we see each encounter as an opportunity to educate. When friends of my youngest told him, 'You can't call her 'dad' anymore. You now have two moms!' He said, 'No, I don't. She's my dad.' "-- Dawn Ennis, news editor at The Advocate, Los Angeles