Welcome to this edition of the “What is it really like series…”, which addresses the less talked about or taboo issues in parenthood. These days we hear a LOT about transgender children in the media, but what about transgender parents?
You may have heard earlier in the year about the release of a documentary film called From This Day Forward – a moving portrayal of an American family coping with one of the most intimate of transformations – a father who transitioned from male to female. And it’s that transformation there, of being a Daddy…to a MummyDaddy, if you like, that is the subject of this issue, as I get into conversation with an old friend of mine…Hendrika…on precisely that subject….
Can you share a little about your situation, and your family?
I am a mum and dad to 2 boys who are 6 and 4 years old. There is not much difference from a hetero family structure to that of our family. I take on the female role at the moment – looking after the younger child until he goes to nursery, doing the housework, picking up the older boy from school and doing the cooking while my wife goes out to work.
As you came out and started transitioning when the oldest was 18 months, how did you decide to take things forward with the family and the Mum/Dad dynamic?
Well, I tell my kids that they have a mum and a mummydaddy. I fulfill both roles in the family. I do everything to look after their well being except giving birth and breastfeeding. My boys do call me that in public and it’s fitting when I wear more feminine clothes when I’m out with them.
They still see me as their “daddy”….they don’t ask any questions about the way I look and behave. We love each other as with any parent-child relationship. They still want me to carry them and hug and kiss like mum and child.
Do you feel you have emerged stronger as a family going through this metamorphosis together?
It took my spouse quite a lot of getting used to the fact that I really no longer wanted to wear male clothes but we have decided to stick together through the disagreements and challenges, and the strains of having children.
What advice to you have for any Dads transitioning within their family unit?
My advice is go slow…transitioning slowly to keep the family structure sound is the only way to go. Your spouse that knew you will also have to adapt to the external changes. Doing it too quickly will be a shock to the system. Approach the subject gradually to your spouse…go for counseling to get mental support. Think hard…do you wish to live a lie or do you wish to be yourself all the time? For me, I chose the latter….with this choice, I could handle any stress and all the hell fire that came with it. Because once you can be yourself….your true potential can be unleashed.
And finally, life as a mummy/daddy is….
Interesting, stressful, no different from that of any other parent, regardless of gender.