Today is a day of blogging for LGBT families all over the internet. For those living under a rock, LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered. I just happen to technically be considered transgendered. This means that my gender doesn’t match my birth sex. Essentially, I was born female, but grew up with the feelings and emotions of a male. Gender is different from sex because sex is biological and gender is perceived. In easier terms, sex is based on body parts and biological makeup, while gender is how you envision yourself.
Strangely enough, the cause for this might just be a biological one. One theory is that those of us who are transgendered are the way we are because in utero (while in the womb), we were exposed to different hormones than we should have been. A transgendered MTF (male to female) might have been exposed to more estrogen and/or androgen while an FTM (female to male) might have been exposed to more testosterone and/or androgen.
It is an interesting theory, especially considering the fact that the ob/gyn who spent her time examining me, in the womb for nine months, swore I was a boy. I was being carried like a boy. Everything appeared as though I were going to be born a boy. With as much experience as she had (having delivered hundreds of babies) she was seldom wrong and quite shocked when I came out a girl.
You see, I was born believing I had to act like a female because biologically I was one. I later realized that all of the feelings of discontent came from my being perceived as something I was not. To me, I was just one of the boys. Most of my close friends were other boys and I liked doing things most boys did. As an adult, I’ve taken the steps to become a man. This involves a lot of dedication. There is the legal aspect (name change and all that comes with it, change of gender on important documents), the physical aspect (dressing, cutting my hair, surgery and embodying the male persona) and the hormonal aspect (regular shots of testosterone). There is also the psychological aspect. I have to be deemed sane enough to be on hormones and have surgery. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have qualified.
Now that I’ve explained a little bit about being transgendered let me say that I’ve been with my girlfriend/partner, Ashtyn (a biological female), for going on six years. We have one son who is 13. He is my girlfriend’s biological son, but I’m the only dad he knows. We see ourselves as just another family. We spend time together. We do fun things. We love each other. We plan to someday have more kids.
The problem is, its hard to fit in anywhere. Sometimes, gay and lesbian families don’t really see us as a family they can relate to, and we’ve unfortunately been shunned. It doesn’t happen often, but it has. They see us as a male-female household so finding a place in the GLBT community has been trying. By the same token, we’re treated much worse by families who see us as non-traditional. I wasn’t born a male so I can say I am male, but that will never make it true (according to them). I don’t agree with this, but it has made it hard for our son to find friends. Nobody wants to be friends with the kid who has a transgendered dad.
Luckily, we’ve found some great resources like COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere), which has a COLAGE Trans group. My son has been able to meet other kids who have transgendered parents. Some are his age, some are older, and some are younger. He’s been able to forge friendships he never would have if it weren’t for COLAGE.
Ultimately, tolerance will come from knowledge. People understand what being transgendered is even less than they understand gay and lesbian. Just for reference, I’ve never performed on stage in drag, I don’t often wear leather, I rarely hang out at bars, and I don’t make men suits (ala Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs). I’ve never been considered or classified mentally ill and I am not one to follow a crowd, just to be cool. I just am who I am and my family accepts me. That’s truly all that matters.