To start, I’ll preface this with letting you know that my experience is unique in that my son did not know me at all before my transition. Because of this, I will not be sharing anything about what it was like for him to have to switch from calling me dad to mom or anything like that.
My son, Wyatt, is 6 years old. If I’m being honest, he’s a bit of a brat and all he really cares about is playing video games. Due to various reasons, I was not in his life for 5.5 years, but I fortunately, I get to spend every day with him now. When I first came back into Wyatt’s life, I lived in Atlanta, GA and he lived in Ohio. This meant that for the first 3ish months, our only interactions were on the phone talking on calls or video chat. I remember when I first started talking to him, I was super self conscious about my facial hair and would only talk to him when I had makeup on. I also tried to feminize my voice as much as possible, something that I don’t tend to do with people that I’m comfortable with. To me, making sure that he saw me as a woman was super important, even if he didn’t know I was his other “parent”. I wanted him to know me as Scylla, not as the person I was before.
Fast-forward and it was March, 2017. I came to Ohio to visit Wyatt for the first time and then we saw one another once a month from there on out (I would come to Ohio to visit or he and my partner would come see me in GA). In the beginning, my partner, Tara, and I were hyper-vigilant about Wyatt not seeing any part of me that was male. That lasted about as long as you’d expect with a kid who barely understands boundaries. I remember there was a point where we thought he might have seen me naked coming out of the shower because he peaked and I remember there was this whole time where we didn’t know what to do. Eventually Tara talked to him and asked if he had seen anything, to which he promptly lied before finally giving in and admitting he’d seen my privates.
Here’s the thing: Tara and I had thought it was going to be some sort of super complicated production explaining what I am to Wyatt. In reality, it wasn’t. He was incredibly receptive to it and ever since hasn’t questioned that not all boys and girls fit the “norm” that he has believed his whole life. If I’m being honest, I think that all he really cared about is whether or not I’d play video games with him or at least talk to him about games. I don’t think my genitalia or my gender matter to him in the slightest.
There was one issue that came up a few months later. In one of my own episodes of self-doubt, I asked Wyatt how he felt about not having a dad. Unsurprisingly to me, Wyatt admitted that he was sad that he didn’t have a dad. This had been a huge fear of mine since I came back into his life, and I know that it had been asked several times by both my family and Tara’s family, and I felt horrible for being the reason that he didn’t have a dad. I still do feel terrible sometimes when I think about it, mostly because my choices in my life have made him a target. When it comes to family projects at school, he now has to explain in even more complicated terms that he doesn’t have a dad, but he has 2 moms. Sure, there are plenty of families where there are 2 moms, but the whole concept is different when he’s growing up in a small Ohio town and people meet me and I’m not passing as well as I feel I should be. Then again, there’s a certain point where it’s my own insecurities and I just worry about what my status as a trans woman does to the reputation of my son.
Honestly, most of my experiences with being a transgender mother don’t directly have to do with Wyatt. Our interactions have always been positive and even though he knows I have a “peanut” just like him, he sees me as a woman. No, most of my experiences as a transgender mother have been fear about living in a small town with my son now and what that means for his future. When I go out, I get the looks. I get the up and down where people are trying to figure out because there are still male signifiers. As Wyatt gets older, it won’t be a secret that one of his mother’s used to be male, and I’m terrified that information will make him the target for bullying. I’m terrified that as he gets older and wants to have friends come over, his friend’s parents won’t let their kids come over because of me. I’m anxious that his teachers will treat him differently because they have never even seen a transgender person before and now have to meet with one at parent teacher conferences. Most of all, I’m worried that one day, Wyatt will resent me for being who I am. I’m worried that he’ll resent me for not letting him have a father, for making him a target, for not letting him have a “normal” life.
In the end, I doubt there’s much of anything I can do about all of my fears. I’m incredibly thankful that right now there are no issues and that Wyatt has always seen me for who I am, and that there has never been a struggle to make him see me as a woman. I’ll continue to communicate the best I can with him, and I guess we’ll see what the future holds.