Growing up as female I distinctly remember not having the desire to pretend to be pregnant or ever envisioned myself pregnant. Not even when playing house as a little kid. I remember all the female friends I had as a child, always pretending to be pregnant – including my twin sister. But I always pretended instead to be adopting kids. I always knew I wanted a family, loved kids, but never felt “maternal” per say.
Fast forward to adulthood, my wife and I started to family plan while both identifying as “Lesbians” . The label “Lesbian” never felt like it fit me but went with it because that’s what seemed right at the time. As my wife and I started discussing having a family and the different options available to us, there was one thing in my mind I knew for sure, I did not want to BE pregnant! It didn’t feel right, I couldn’t picture it, and when I did it felt so awkward and uncomfortable. My wife thankfully really wanted to be pregnant.
Like many couples trying to get pregnant, we had our struggles. Being a same-sex couple meant a few added hoops to jump through as well. But eventually, on Valentine’s Day 2013 we saw the second blue line on the test! We were having a baby! We were elated. Over the next couple months there were a lot of discussions around decision making and planning. Would we find out the gender of our baby? What color would we paint the nursery? What would our birth plan be? Then came the conversation of what the baby would call me. Going into pregnancy and parenthood, I never felt like a “mom”. So being called Mom, Mommy D or anything along those lines just made me feel… well, uncomfortable. After many nights of brainstorming and me fully stressing we came to the name MaPa.
When my sweet Baby Shayne was born everyone was terrific and fully on board with referring to me as “MaPa”. Although in public, when I was alone with Shayne, strangers would almost always refer to me as her “Mom”. It made me squirm, a lot! I would get a pit in my stomach everytime I heard people use the word “Mom” in reference to me. While I never felt like one of Shayne’s “Moms” I ALWAYS felt like her parent.
Over the Christmas holidays in 2015 I came out as transgender. In the new year, I began medically transitioning from female to male. My wife was the most supportive partner I could have ever hoped for. But one of the fears we both shared was that child would be teased at school because of my transition. But we stayed positive, and joked casually about what was “worse” two Moms or a Trans Dad? Shane was only 2 at the time as well so we figured by the time we crossed the friends at school bridge neither would be a big deal.
With Shayne only being 2 when I started my transition, pronouns were easy because she didn’t understand well what pronouns were. However I had come to love hearing “MaPa” from her little mouth. But I also knew from a deep place I now wanted to be her Dad. As supportive my partner and family were of Shayne calling me MaPa they supported her calling me Dad as well and we started to use the terms MaPa and Dad interchangeably. Shayne caught on so quick that if she started calling me MaPa and if I didn’t answer, she would yell “DAD!” boy that did catch my attention! It was internally joyful to hear her call me Dad. It just fit and felt so right!
Two years into my transition now, I’ve realized my role as a parent hasn’t changed at all. I still care for Shayne and take care of her just as I would have when I identified as female.
The one thing I do notice that’s different, is other people’s expectations of me. They seem to be a bit lower now that I’m a Dad. Society seems to take it a lot easier on Dad’s than they do Moms. If I take Shayne out and she isn’t in a matching outfit, I get smiles and comments like “Aww!! Look, he tried his best”. My wife on the other hands seems to be held to a different standard. If she goes out with Shayne’s in a similar mismatched get up, she’ll often receive comments like “who dressed that kid?” or “she must have dressed herself.” The standards and expectations for Moms are crazy. It’s really eye opening.
I feel I lucked out transitioning when I did while Shayne was young. I was able to focus on more on my transition without having to worry so much about thoughts and feelings might be experiencing. Now that she is 4 we have conversations as they arise. Planting seeds as we go, giving her the appropriate answers a 4 year old can digest. We’ve always taught Shayne that everyone’s families are different. As time goes on we hope Shayne will see her family as just that, simply her family.