I just had someone point out this book Prinsesa: The Boy Who Dreamed of Being a Princess to me. I don’t know it, haven’t read it, but was wondering if anyone out there has. Here’s the blurb:

After a small earthquake, 6-year old Jojo and his 8-year old sister Malaya are enjoying listening to Daddy’s story about the Singkil princess of the Philippines. The princess was brave and unafraid as she and the prince dance together to find their way around the falling trees of a tremor. But Daddy seems uncomfortable when Jojo says he dreams of being a princess too. How should Daddy respond? In an age of hateful bullying and advances for LGBT and gender nonconforming people, there’s no easy way to understand what these struggles mean unless you put a face to them. What better face is there to look at than that of an innocent child who is full of wonder at the world?” In the end, the story shows that whatever issues children need to deal with, they’ll be okay as long as they have loving and supportive adults in their corner. A portion of the proceeds will be used to fund and distribute the companion short film.

There are so few children’s books about gender variance and diversity so it’s nice to see a new one.

If anyone out there reads it and wants to write a brief review, I’d be happy to post it here.

“Making Trans Parents Visible” – co-authored by me

So this is cool: the article I co-authored with a colleague (Beth Haines) and a former student (Alex Ajayi) has been published in Feminism & Psychology, and is now available online.

Here’s the abstract:

This article explores the self-reported parenting challenges of 50 transgender parents based on an online survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans parents in the United States. Many trans parents transitioned after forming a family, whereas others had children after or even during transition. They coordinated their transition with parenting responsibilities, and carefully managed their visibility in parenting settings to protect their children. This analysis focuses on the challenges that trans parents faced at the intersection of their parenting and trans identities. Although trans parents share many of the concerns of cisgender parents, they also face unique challenges that must often be navigated without extensive support. Revealing these challenges increases trans parents’ visibility in society, and could help therapists and school administrators become more sensitive to the intersectional identities of trans people and the stressors unique to trans parenting.

Some of the other articles from the same special issue on trans include:

  • What makes a man? Thomas Beatie, embodiment, and ‘mundane transphobia’
  • Trans men and friendships: A Foucauldian discourse analysis
  • Who watches the watchmen? A critical perspective on the theorization of trans people and clinicians


Another Example of Cool Masculinity

A father of a ‘gender creative’ son – a boy who is feminine – defends his parenting and his wife’s.

My wife also gets a load of emails from people asking where our son’s father is, as though I couldn’t possibly be around and still allow a male son to display female behavior. To those people I say, I’m right here fathering my son. I want to love him, not change him. My son skipping and twirling in a dress isn’t a sign that a strong male figure is missing from his life, to me it’s a sign that a strong male figure is fully vested in his life and committed to protecting him and allowing him to grow into the person who he was created to be.

A parent behaving like a parent. Amazing. What isn’t so amazing is how long these pernicious ideas about the lack of a strong male role model somehow “creates” feminine boys, when in fact, the lack of a strong male role model, in my opinion, tends to create bullies, not their victims.

The Love of Parents

I went to a breakfast to kick off a campaign here in the Fox Valley yesterday: the idea is to make sure LGBTQ people know they’re welcome. There have been too many suicides of these kids over the past few years just in this area, & I sat at the same table with one of the moms who lost her son yesterday.

You just don’t know what to say. There really isn’t anything to say. You keep doing, instead, in hopes that no other mom ever has to go through that.

So when I saw this piece by Rachel Maddow, about how PFLAG parents at pride parades *always* make her cry, I felt some kind of relief: me too. Who knows why. Maybe you can tell on some of their faces that it’s not what they’ve chosen. Or that it’s still hard for them. Or that they’re not convinced gayness isn’t a sin. Who knows? But they’re there, and they’re proud of their love.

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Which is, yeah: more of what the world needs.

(This clip is also a nice piece of gay history, & so worth watching. Obama’s retelling of Morty’s arrest at the Stonewall is priceless, too.)

Childfree, Not Childless

In this article by a 55 year old woman about being childfree, this was the part that landed most squarely with me.

At one of many going-away parties, the wife of one of my colleagues in the philosophy department, after asking if I had children or planned to, blurted out a version of what my mother had said years before, telling me that having children was essential because it opened one up to a world of opportunities one would otherwise not have. What stands out in my mind from this conversation was this woman’s anger. At the time, I couldn’t figure out why my decision not to have kids made her so angry, why she insisted so stridently that I was wrong not to want them. I wasn’t angry with her for wanting and having them, after all. What I learned, from this and other conversations on the subject with women who are parents, is that it is usually quite difficult to explain your decision not to have children to those who have chosen to do so without offending them in some unspoken but very deep and palpable way. I believe this is partly because many of them are secretly envious of the child-free and also—perhaps more importantly—see the child-free person as a repudiation of their own life choice and, worse, as a sign of “non-envy.” Imitation is the highest form of flattery and the surest sign of envy. My child-free state was like a mirror that did not reflect their image. I gradually learned to provide nonanswers to questions pertaining to children and parenthood. (It is interesting to note, from my own experience, that men rarely if ever asked me about children and my lack of them.)

Because, well, YES. I was recently told by someone that I probably didn’t understand “their world” and I bit my tongue to keep from saying “oh yes I do – that’s why I didn’t choose it.”

I’ve often taught that one of the things that happens in trans communities – as well as in others, no doubt – that many people want you to do what they did in order to validate their own choices. There is tremendous pressure about a lot of life decisions, but for me, the feminist option is to respect women who decide to have children, no matter what they give up to do so. Me? I couldn’t. Didn’t want to. Needed to write, adventure, love broadly. I find so much maternal expression in so many other things I do; I am both loyal and protective, demanding and comforting. That is, I don’t think you need to be a mother in order to be one, so to speak. Continue reading “Childfree, Not Childless”

First Father’s Day Without

This is for him.

He must have been shopping for my mother’s Christmas present, except that I don’t remember that it was Christmas. But that is the only thing that might explain why my father was shopping with me only, and why it was so crowded at TSS that night. There was a rush of human beings around us, and I was the kind of small that I saw humanity as an army of knees and legs and belts and hands. I was double stepping to keep up with him. I clung to his hand like a prehensile kite, light as nothing and skipping and running because he was in a hurry, which meant he wasn’t as happy as he could be. When he was happy, he moved at a leisurely pace, and when he was really happy, he didn’t move much at all.

In the whoosh of people, I lost his hand for a second and then reattached myself like a homo sapien grasping instinctually. But I picked the wrong hand, or the hand of the wrong man, a man who wasn’t my father. I didn’t notice. I just kept up my skipping and walking, until I saw my father approaching me. Only then did I wonder whose hand I was holding, and now, why he held my hand for so long. Maybe he saw my father looking for me before I did and brought me to him. I don’t know. But I was transferred from the strange man’s hand to his. It took all of my hand to grasp only two of his fingers.

I have no idea if we bought anything at all that night, and I still don’t think it was Christmas, but I can’t think of any other reason we would have been shopping, just the two of us, in a department store past dusk.

Trans + Dads

Here are two stories concerning fathers and transness: one, the story of a woman who is only meeting her dad at age 30 after her mother’s death – and after her father abandoned the family when she was still an infant (declared male at birth).

The other is a big mess, to be honest: the story of a woman whose father had a lot of issues, like being an abusive asshole, on top of the trans stuff. For the record, these things don’t have anything to do with each other. While I certainly sympathize at her loss and confusion, the story gets mired in her father’s anger and illegal activities. But I don’t think it’s hard to imagine, either, why a 6’7″ blue collar guy struggling with the need to transition might be a ball of rage. The writing is pretty horrendous as well, but there you go.

More from me later about my own father, who took the trans in our lives with grace and humor. This is my family’s first father’s day without him, and thanks to all of you who remembered that & send me a short note letting me know you were thinking of me.