uring my short time raising a child, I’ve learned the beauty of trusting myself through this seldom charted path of trans motherhood. Still, I’ve often wondered how my mother found the vulnerability and power to raise my three sisters and I, in a world filled with unknowns.
When I came out to my mom as a gay boy, she understood me more as her fourth daughter, not a gay son. This was before I could even articulate this myself. She admitted that she had no idea what LGBTQ meant, but, she knew who I was at that moment, and that I needed love. She was willing to journey into a world of identities and experiences she had never encountered before, because she understood that it was important for her child. This kind of power was what built me into the woman I am and the mother I am becoming.
Still, exploring womanhood and discovering my gender has been like building a puzzle without the picture reference. Years ago, I didn’t know how an older transgender woman could look and I had to secretly piece it together because I didn’t know if it was safe to explore this aloud. The narrative projected onto transgender bodies is rooted in sexual deviancy and violence. So, I grew up learning being trans was forfeiting my body to the world and being out of control of what would happen to it. Even within “feminist” circles, trans people are often framed as inconveniences to justice and deceivers of our genders/existences. When trans people challenge others to respect our experiences, we’re often silenced and pinned as the aggressors. How could someone like me raise a child to be a good person in a world that doesn’t even consider me deserving of humanity?
Following the guidance of my community, I looked to my history for answers. I discovered the women and fems who have nurtured generations with the strength and resilience I’ve come to know as part of being trans. Trans women who were mothers of legendary houses like Angie Xtravaganza, Trans women who were mothers and fought for liberation like Miss Major, and Trans women who were mothers of countless communities but were never properly recognized, all came from lineages that cared for their children with every ounce of love that my mother had for me. While their love and family structures have historically been shamed, their resistance remained. Listening to Trans and fem mothers living today, and other leaders past and present, I’ve learned of the power that comes with unconditionally supporting and loving our children, with or without society’s permission.
However, I learned very fast that love wasn’t enough, especially for children who were system-impacted. When I first adopted my baby, I quickly learned that love would not erase the trauma of foster care; hugs were not always enough to ease the nightmares that stem from instability. Love was not enough; but, it opened the door to strength, compassion, understanding, fun, and support. The love I held for my child allowed me to be vulnerable with him and with my community. The unknowing nature of motherhood simultaneously filled me with questions and the power to ask them. It is scary to look at a five-year-old and admit, “I do not know,” but it is also empowering. Even if to this day, my mom maintains that “because I said so” is sufficient; I want to offer my kid more than this!
I’ve developed a deep appreciation for the freedom to ask questions; I regularly ask my friend: how do they encourage their children to eat their vegetables and make showers seem like fun; how to teach five-year-olds about consent and bodily autonomy; how to make a little brown child proud of their history and unashamed of their experiences. And on and on.
This past year has assured me of my power to guide my child to find themselves. I do not have all of the answers; but, here we are, existing together, like my mother and I did years ago. This world does not teach young girls about healthy motherhoods and when we’re trans, the world doesn’t even teach us that we can be mothers. So, I wish every trans person finds the peace and strength to know their value and to search for the possibilities of what they can accomplish. We can be anything, and when we choose to be mothers, and fathers, and parents, our kids can accomplish the impossible as well.