We absolutely adore and admire @lifewithThisOne. Their courage, vul-
nerability, and generosity in such a divisive, fear-filled time astounds
us at TSSN. Here's an inspirational account of being a trans parent during
the reign of Trump.
Returning from her first unaccompanied trip to a restaurant bathroom, my ten year-old daughter excitedly said: “That was the best bathroom of my life!” I certainly didn’t expect this trip to change her life, but it seems that sometimes bathrooms do that.
It turns out that, to her, this bathroom was pretty special. She marvelled: “There is salt to wash your hands!” I was puzzled, but just as I started to shift in my seat to get up and go see this for myself, the server came over to our table and leaned in close, whispering to her: “Oh no, honey, we don’t tell the men that. They don’t get to have the fancy stuff we get to have. We keep it all to ourselves.”
Just like that, the server walked away. I’m sure she didn’t expect that to change our lives. But sometimes the smallest comments can do that too.
My daughter was six when I came out as transgender and started using they/them pronouns. She started calling me Apa instead of Mommy. I identify as transmasculine nonbinary, but my kid just calls me “a they/them”.
Language is important because it can put all the big ideas into neat little packages. As a parent, I’m careful not to get so caught up with the package that I miss the good stuff. Non-binary just means that I’m not her mom or her dad. I’m her parent. Neutral. In that middle place where I get to be myself – no different than the self I’ve always felt like on the inside, just a few different versions of me on the outside.
The transmasculine part of me means that I feel much better with strangers seeing me as male than female. Because with strangers, it’s generally either/or. I take weekly shots of low dose testosterone and earlier this summer I had gender affirming top surgery to make my chest flat. I’ve never felt as comfortable in my body as I do now. At 40, parenting a ten year-old, that is a special gift for both of us.
As a trans parent in Trump's America, I'm not just telling my child to be herself – I’m showing her what that looks like. Sometimes people don’t agree with you. Sometimes people around you won’t understand you no matter how hard you try to explain yourself. Sometimes they will fight against you, they will stare and they may even make you feel unsafe.
Yet it is still worth it to be you. At ten, she’s still just getting started. Because it’s not just trans people who reinvent ourselves – everyone does, especially kids. My kid is certainly not the same version of herself as a toddler when she identified as a Disney princess. Yes, there are glimpses of that version of herself, when she wears a particularly twirly skirt, but she is so much more. You are not the same version of yourself from 20 years ago, either, and that is a good thing.
In 2019, the war against trans people is at an all-time high. Instead of fighting to keep us safe, the government, state legislatures and even school systems are fighting against trans people to remove protections, rights and our freedoms. Currently, medical providers aren’t allowed to hold back care for a transgender patient, but there is talk in the current administration to remove these protections allowing medical providers to make their own choices based on their personal beliefs. This is not okay.
We are people. We are parents. We are friends, teachers and even elected officials. We deserve access to medical care and welcoming schools and safe bathrooms. We deserve the opportunity to thrive.
In our family, we celebrate identity. We celebrate the differences in our friends in race and color and religion and language. We celebrate difference of opinion. We celebrate the opportunity to learn and grow and support one another. Having a trans parent is not always easy for my kid, but she celebrates the difference anyway. When she’s frustrated or scared, she has learned to ask for help.
As the server walked away from my daughter that day, moments after her first solo trip to the bathroom, she asked: “What just happened?” It took a minute for us to figure out what she had said, but I eventually responded: “She thinks I’m a boy.” Her face lit up, and she excitedly replied: “Just like you want!”
A few minutes later, in the restaurant with the fancy salt, I stood up and proudly walked over to the men’s bathroom. When I returned to the table, I reported back: “She was right. We don’t get the fancy stuff."
A transgender man’s journey | from the TSSN Media Gallery
24 inspiring images of successful FtM transition: