Reconciling motherhood and being a guy

31 03 2008

OK, so this blog post has absolutely nothing to do with the FTM guy that’s in the news. I was planning this blog entry before I had heard about all of that. Just a note, though, that I support this fella and feel for him and his wife in this time of media scrutiny and discrimination. If he or any of his friendly acquaintances are reading this, I’d like to pass along my support in this difficult time.

Now, in the online trans community, I’ve read a lot of discussion about how trans people ask their kids to call them something other than the term that was used before transition. I understand that for many trans people, hearing “mom” when they are a guy or vice versa can be difficult. And I know that it must be difficult to feel that one has to ask their child to change the way the refer to them.

In my case, I haven’t found it particularly difficult to reconcile being a guy with being a mom. I guess it’s because I don’t see motherhood as a fundamental part of my identity. It’s important to me and I love my child more than anyone or anything I’ve every loved but “mom” just happens to be the role that I’m playing in his life. Becoming a mom was not crucial to my self-identity. It was a way in which to bring a person that needed to exist into the world. We were meant to be in each other’s lives and this happened to be the way in which this came to fruition.

Another reason that I can reconcile these two realities is that my “guyness” is a transguyness. While there are transmen out there who identify as men, I see myself as a transguy. I don’t know if this will change in time but for now, that is my truth. And since transguy inherently implies being born with girl bits (unless someone has a definition that I don’t know about yet), being a mom is something that one was probably born with the capacity to do. I was and I did. No matter what I become, physically, I can’t (and wouldn’t want to anyway) go back in time and change the fact that I gave birth to my child and breastfed him anymore than I could (and wouldn’t want to anyway) go back in time and change the fact that I was born with XX chromosomes.

So . . . yeah, I’m a guy, a very specific kind of guy who was born with a physical structure that allowed him to experience motherhood. Not only do I not find it problematic to reconcile the two, I think that it’s a great gift. I’m proud and happy that I was able to go through the magical experiences of giving birth and giving a child milk from my own body.

To quote Edith Piaf: “Non, rien de rien. Non, je ne regrette rien.”

So yeah, I’m a mom and a guy. And my son will always be able to call me Mom. 




17 responses

1 04 2008

I’m not sure what exactly I want to say to this.

*sends positive vibes*

1 04 2008
Jacky V.

Thanks Ryan!

1 04 2008
Tarald Stein

I do ask my daughter to call me by my first name, but I’m not telling her not to call me mom. I don’t want her to feel that she looses her mother, because I’ll always play that part in her life.

On the other hand, I’m not really comfortable with being called mom. This is mainly because of society’s perception of a mom being a woman. I do. like you, identify as a transman, not a normal man. But I’m certainly not a woman and it hurts to be percieved that way.

At the gender-clinic, they are trying to convince me that a mother is a woman, and thereby increase my problems. I’ll write more about this on my private T.S-blog (that you both should have access to if I’ve done it right).

1 04 2008
Jacky V.

Thanks for the comment Tarald. Yes, I have access to that blog . . .I’ve been reading it, just haven’t had the time to leave any replies yet. I’m still mulling over your last entry (well the last one that I read anyway) and will respond.

As for motherhood being equated with being a woman, I guess guys like us who are mothers challenge that and most people don’t like those fundamental bits of knowledge to be challenged. After all, when you start questionning basic notions of what is natural and normal, the whole world comes toppling down, right?

2 04 2008

Heh. Mac has actually had a couple slips when speaking to his church buddies, who, of course, think he’s a girl. When referring to my “little sisters,” he takes pride in that they call him Dad, and he ocassionally likes to say it.

Then he catches himself and realizes he can’t say “They call me Daddy AWWWW!” without a great deal of explanation.

I’m wondering if maybe the time he DIDN’T catch himself is why his minister was unsurprised by the news.


2 04 2008
Jacky V.

Interesting. Yeah, it gets hard sometimes to keep things straight. I was trying to not out myself to students but I’ve noticed I’ve been slipping. I’ve caught myself a couple of times (like when I was writing minutes of a meeting at which there were both students and teachers and I was about to write: “If anyone needs more forms, Jacky has some in his office.”) . It’s quite possible that there are times when I haven’t caught myself . . . but in the meantime I’ve stopped worrying about it so . . .

3 04 2008

I called myself ‘uncle ryan’ while playing with my nephew the other day when my mum was here. She told me very firmly that I am an ‘Auntie’…. the kid was born after I took my new name though, so I don’t want him ever learning to call me Auntie Renae.

Its easy to slip up. I am ‘he’ in my entire life except with my mum, and at work. I avoid referring to myself at work, but always feel vaguely surprised when people call me ‘she’.

3 04 2008
Jacky V.

I hear you Ryan. It IS very easy to slip, especially when there are very few contexts in which you have to “hide”. I knew I couldn’t do it at work so that’s why I decided to stop worrying about it. And yeah, she sounds weird. I don’t even respond to my female name anymore . . . I just don’t even realise the person is talking to me when they say it (usually by accident).

4 04 2008

I just discovered a wordpress feature that lets me track comments. *w00t*

I don’t have to hide at work anymore… I’m getting more and more out. I was meant to talk to my mum today, cos she was coming to visit, but she cancelled the trip. I think that I will have to tell her over the phone.
I am hoping she will be more respectful of my name change etc once she knows the reasons behind it… but I’m not holding my breath. I think that she will be *less* likely to call me Ryan, at least for a while.
I don’t respond to my female name much either… I got used to being called Ryan mighty quickly.

4 04 2008
Jacky V.

Yeah, that’s a real cool feature . .. don’t have to go back on all the blogs and see if there are replies : )

It is amazing how fast we get used to it, even though it feels weird at first. The only thing I discovered recently that is really hard to change is my signature!!!

Best of luck with your mom . . .hope it goes OK!

11 04 2008
Nick Kiddle

Just found you on someone else’s blogroll and thought I’d drop a comment to a fellow mother-guy. I’m feeling weird about calling myself a mother – it’s no more comfortable than any other female-gendered word – but at the same time I’ve taught my daughter to call me Mummy and it feels OK coming from her. It’s just who I am.

13 04 2008
Jacky V.

Hi Nick! Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment! I think we all experience the motherhood thing differently and that’s all cool. For me, I guess motherhood has always been more of a role than an identity so Mom or Mommy doesn’t bother me, even though it’s gendered. But I can certainly understand why many people would have difficulties with it. Ultimately, every child-parent pair (or other combinations if there is more than one child) needs to find a way to meet each other’s needs. I think there are compromises to be made all around, in most cases. Depending on their ages, I guess we have to try to see where they’re coming from and do all this in the most positive way possible for everyone involved.

Best of luck and hope to hear from you again! Will check out your link!

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