Saturday, June 7, 2008

Donna's Day

The Transgender Parent's Lament

Like many transgender women, I am a father. That's the common, but limiting, term applied to the parent who provided the "Y" chromosome. Certainly there is much, much more to being a Father or a Dad - but at its very core this is the principal basis for the distinction between the female parent and the male parent.

I have written earlier about my two incredible daughters. I remain so very thankful they remain in my life and I in theirs. But "Father's Day" looms and they won't be calling or sending a card. For them, as my oldest daughter declared in a television profile of my transition "Dad, as Dad, is gone". It does hurt in a way, but it is how they have reconciled their relationship to me, their parent.

Each household is different as to how the new relationships move forward. In her book, "She's Not There", Jennifer Finney Boylan says her children combined Mommy and Daddy into "Maddy" as her new sobriquet. Cute. Kids are usually the most creative. A local friend is now "Aunt Gayle". In another home in Southern California, it's "Mom" and "Mom" for the two sons who are now grown adults.

For my daughters, I'm just "Donna", though both acknowledge when talking about me to others they usually call me their "Dad". It must be frustrating for them at times - they have to "out" themselves for my being trans. That was as sentiment I learned from our local PFLAG leader, Jamie Lee, who often talked about the "outing" process for the parents of gays and lesbians. It reaches our children as well.

I remember my oldest daughter suggesting that they could split the calendar between Mother's Day and Father's Day and call it "Donna's Day". Maybe that's the solution - a day in between for transgender parents. Like I said, kids are usually the most creative. It's certainly something to consider to help all deal with the confusion and the conflict.

Ofttimes, though, there is joy from sadness. The first year I attended my church, I was offered a lovely flower by our young members for Mother's Day. I appreciated their loving gesture, even if I didn't feel like a Mother. Then came Father's Day and I felt lost - in between perhaps. But after that weekend, I wanted to connect with kids again. Kids had been such a major part of my life - my own daughters, my step-daughter's children (making me a "grandparent" at the age of 33!), all those softball players, my high school students. And so I am now a Sunday School Teacher - a duty we rotate among a few of us.

To all my transgender friends who are parents, I offer my best to you. To the children of a transgender parent, know you are loved.....always.


Anonymous said...

how sad for you that your children couldn't just see you as that woman you have always been, even before they were4 born. I wonder if they could would they then not be calling you mom. Mother is just a title as is father, one which speaks to the person's gender and part the person plays in that child's life. Same can be said for uncle, aunt, grand mother/father etc.
One can tell where in the historical line one falls by the title used in that child's life, the gender is secondary just denoting, well the gender.

Sara Law said...

Happy Donna's Day from Sara in Washington DC honey ... you sound like a great Dad ... I also have 2 daughters and I probably will be lucky enough to get calls on Father's Day ... however, it is really the other 364 days I worry about and I, like you, am so very grateful that they remain in my life and that we continue the loving relationships we had prior to my transition ...