By: Stephanie B.
Mother’s Day, I must admit, is a very weird “holiday” for me. It really has little to do with the fact that I am a transgender person. In fact, the commemorative day was already weird long before I began my transition. You see, my mom passed away 26 years ago from ovarian cancer. I was 27 years old and at a point in my life when I really struggled with my gender issues and was deeply in the closet. Think about it, it was 1986 – I don’t believe the terms transgender or trans were even coined yet. I guess what I’m saying is, I was a little out of practice when it came to Mother’s Day.
You see, unlike trans individuals who transition while both of their parents are alive, my situation was different – but like many others I am sure – in that both of my parents had passed away before I came out. Some have said to me that it is a blessing, but to me it was far from that. It’s because of not ever really knowing how they would have reacted. My sister, my biggest supporter in the world, has said to me that Mom would have embraced me and loved me, but my Dad – a Teamster and WWII veteran - might have had his difficulties. The reality is I’ll never know. And that’s where the Mother’s Day story comes in.
I am proud to say that now I have a mother in my life – in the form of my partner Mari’s mom, who loves me unconditionally. She’s a wonderful person who stood by her daughter’s side throughout her transition and her surgery, and has accepted me and my son into the family with open arms. For that I am eternally grateful, and as I said to her this Mother’s Day over lunch, “I am so glad I have a mom in my life that I can celebrate Mother’s Day with.”
When it comes to my being transgender, Mother’s Day really never held much appeal. At the very beginning of my transition, when my now 17-year old son was just nine, I recall sitting down with him and sharing the fact that I am NOT his mom. I don’t want to be his mom and, in fact, he already has a mom. There is no need for another one. I pointed out that I did not give birth to him, his mom did. I’m his dad, and will forever be his dad. I went on to explain, that just because I’m transitioning does not mean that I’ll suddenly forget how to throw a baseball or a football. It won’t change my love of sports – of baseball and football in particular. In fact, one of the joys he and I experience to this day is going to the ballpark and watching our beloved Phillies. I taught him to keep score when he was young, and the drives down to Philly have turned out to be bonding experiences for us both.
As I look back on it, I guess that in all of these moments I have truly embraced my fatherhood, all for the sake of my son. Not some notion that now that I am living in this world as a woman, specifically a transgender woman, that I must now somehow comport as a mother when it comes to how I choose to parent my child.
And I’m so glad I did because I so did not want him to be confused – and most importantly – not feel as if he was losing his father. I can remember clueing him on the fact that there will be some people that we’ll come in contact with that when they see us together will refer to me as your mother – and that’s okay because we know what the real “scoop” is – we have our own “understanding.” He got that then – and still does to this day. For that, and so many other things, I am truly grateful.