There have been a lot of big changes in my life recently, all of them surrounding being transgender. My original birth records were destroyed and updated to reflect my correct gender. Finally, the government recognizes that I was born male; it isn’t something you become. Plus, I was approved for gender confirmation surgery—legally called: sex reassignment surgery (SRS).
When you are a parent who also happens to be transgender and transition after you have children, there can be a lot of questions from your children and family. How you answer those questions depends upon the age of your child(ren).
As I go through my own process, I plan to share my experience as a transgender parent going through various aspects of transition. I also want to help answer any questions that may come up or have come up if you are in my boat.
First, we need to be clear about what transition means. A lot of people have the misconception that transition equals surgery.
Let me be clear: It most certainly does not mean surgery. SRS most certainly does not mean bottom surgery. It most certainly does not mean hormones. Transition is different for everyone. For some people, transition will involve simply living as the gender with which they identify. They may even legally change their name. For other people, transitioning can go as far as surgery.
Over at TransCanuck, I wrote a basic primer about what transition is and is not, and how it looks for me. I’ve also started a series about seeking SRS in British Columbia, as the guidelines changed three times in December 2014, alone. I was one of the first people to be approved under the new guidelines.
My children are older: nearly 20 and nearly 16. They have known practically their entire lives that I was not like other “moms.” We don’t celebrate Mother’s Day, even though they call me “mum.” Their questions were pretty simple because they are already well aware about the whole process and what it means to be transgender.
The first question they had was, “What pronouns do we use when we talk about you outside of the house? I only ask because we live in a city that isn’t accepting about this whole thing.”
My answer was straight to the point, “Outside of the home, use ‘they/them/their.’ Kid2, your school will be notified and it won’t be a big deal because the school board now requires accommodation for this in all schools.”
The second question they had was, “We call you ‘mum’ at home for reasons. What do we call you outside of the home?”
My answer was pretty simple, “You refer to me as your parent. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.”
If you are a trans parent, or if you have a family member who is transitioning and are unsure how to answer your children’s questions, ask them in the comments, and I’ll answer them in a follow-up post. Please be sure to include the age of the child, so that I can craft age-appropriate answers.