One of the most difficult things to do as a parent in my opinion, is not deciding on a name for your baby but a parent title. Choosing a name for your child to call you that fits with your identity is no small feat. Especially when your gender identity is in a state of flux or transition.
When my wife and I first found out we were going to be parents, I still identified as female. Transgender Male wasn’t quite yet on my radar. As soon as we began telling people my wife was pregnant, one of the most common questions we were asked was “What are they going to call you two?” For my wife that was easy; Mom, Mumma, Mommy, since she positively was the maternal type. For me it wasn’t so straight forward. I was very masculine presenting. Titles like Mumma D or Mommy D or any combination with a maternal tag involved just made me feel uncomfortable. It was in these first conversations on the topic with others I realized picking a title for myself was going to be a bigger issue than I ever anticipated it would be.
My wife and I spent countless endless hours researching different parental titles. I definitely felt more like the “Dad” type parent but felt as though the title wouldn’t be an appropriate choice as I was still identifying as female. Would it be weird or confusing for our child growing up to have a female parent called “Dad”? So, we continued to search for options. Looking at different cultures and their various terms for “Dad” or “Father.” There were some good ones that weren’t as obvious as father or Papa or Daddy. But I also felt it wasn’t my right to claim another cultures terms for myself.
As the days and weeks went on I started to get discouraged. I was putting in so much time and effort trying find a title that fit me, but nothing was jumping out at me. I really didn’t want to settle. I mean, this is what our child could potentially call me for the rest of their life. I wanted to be Dad but I wasn’t confident enough. So, I decided to take a bit of a break from searching and scrolling, and put it on the back burner. Sometimes when you aren’t pushing that’s when things come to you. And this time was no exception. Shortly after putting my search to bed, I got a text from my Dad and asking “How is Mumma feeling?” – referring to my wife. “A little tired, but she is doing good,”. He then replied “That’s good, and how is MaPa doing?” As I read the text I realized I was smiling ear to ear. For the first time during the pregnancy I didn’t feel awkward when being referred to as a parent. It felt natural, genuine. MaPa felt like me. A blend of masculine and feminine.
I went on to use the name MaPa for two years until I began to transition. Then continued to use MaPA interchangeably along with “Dad”. Now four years into parenting MaPa has completely faded out and we exclusively use Dad. MaPa was a great fit for the time it lasted, it reflected who I was then, and felt right. But now I get to be “Dad” & “Daddy” exactly what I wanted to be called from the time we first found out we were going to be parents.
It’s hard to not let everyone around you influence your choices. When it come to choosing a parental title take your time to think about it. Choose a name that feels authentic to you and don’t let anyone else sway you. Only you know how you feel. In the end it’s you, your partner and your children who are going to use the name you decide on. Don’t be afraid to go with something you are 100% comfortable with and reflects your family. When you are comfortable and confident with your title everyone else who hears it will be just pick it up and accept it. Remember families come in all shapes and sizes there isn’t a “normal family” prototype. The family you create and choose is just that, a family. Don’t be afraid to express your true identity via a parental title. No matter what you choose your children will call you it with love.
Image c/o Unsplash