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A born mother – even though I was born a male

I always knew that I wanted to be a mom. However, I was born a boy, so for the longest time, I didn’t think that this would ever happen. When I was younger I would play dress-up with my sister’s dolls and walk them around in a stroller, feed them with a bottle and soothe them to sleep. I loved to daydream and imagine what it would be like to be a mother. It made it especially challenging because I’m Japanese and my parents have always been very traditional. They were ashamed of me and punished me for acting like a girl. I struggled through school, never feeling comfortable in my own body.

Eventually, after I couldn’t take the conflict anymore, I distanced myself from my family and moved to another city so I could build another life and be comfortable in my own skin. That’s when I began the sex reassignment transition process. It took many, many years of counselling, hormone treatment, and eventually surgery to become the woman that I had always felt I was born to be.

Becoming a mom proved even more difficult. I struggled with feeling like I couldn’t offer a man what a born-female could – the ability to carry and give birth to our child. Even though I had always lived on the fringes of what was “normal”, I still had this yearning to be part of a “normal” family – a dad, a mom (me), and two children. I was still programmed with the messages that my parents taught me when I was younger of what family is. Maybe that’s why my attempts to build relationships with hetero men failed miserably. I felt desperately alone – not fitting comfortably into either world of men or women. Around this time, I got involved with a local women’s centre and met Alice, a lively and dynamic woman. Our friendship developed quickly and soon we found ourselves entering into a romantic relationship – my first with a woman – and for her, the first with a trans-person. We talked about our hopes and dreams for the future openly from the start. We shared a desire to have children but were uncertain about the specifics – although we both knew we wanted our features and cultures (Alice is Irish) represented in our child.

We approached a local fertility clinic and talked about our options. Fortunately I had banked some of my sperm before my transition so once Alice became comfortable with the idea of a pregnancy – something she never thought she wanted and something I had dreamed about my entire life – Alice was inseminated with my sperm and after 4 tries she ended up pregnant!

Our daughter is now 8 months old and is the best thing that has ever happened in both our lives. We still have some of my frozen sperm in storage, and when Aleesa (that’s our daughter’s name) is a bit older, we’re going to try again for number two.

The big issue down the road is deciding when and if we should disclose to our kids that I was once a male. While we’re 100% comfortable raising our kids in a lesbian family, the sex reassignment feels like unchartered territory. We’ve booked a session to talk with a counsellor about how and when to approach this with our kids. No matter what, we always want our kids to feel as though they were conceived in love, and that they have nothing to feel ashamed about in terms of their parents or their non-traditional family. This may mean that we have to educate people in our children’s lives, but we’re ready – we’re two fiercely proud and loving mamas – just how I always imagined.

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3 Responses to “A born mother – even though I was born a male”

  1. phyllis says:

    I agree you must tell your children at some point. Keeping secrets are wrong and hurtful

  2. Meredith says:

    It’s certainly something to approach with your child because it’s a very teachable thing, but I wouldn’t act as if it is a dark, shameful secret lest they pick up on the cues you’re providing.

    It shouldn’t feel like a secret — do we expect parents to address the subject of having had scoliosis correction years ago, or is that just a non-issue which might be casually addressed? It’s just a part of the human experience, and a child is more likely to be a mindful person to others and have self-respect for their status if they happen to be transgender also, if they don’t pick up the idea that there is anything wrong with it.

  3. Nat says:

    Congratulations on becoming a mom! I am also a transwoman, and I have been raising my daughter as a single mom since she was 4 years old. I started my transition right after my daughter was born, so that she would only ever know me as a female. My marriage did not last through the transition process, and after a few years and some mental health issues on my ex-wife’s part, I ended up with custody of our child. I live a stealth life, only sharing my trans status with my closest of friends, and living far away from my very dysfunctional family. I waited until my daughter was 13 years old to tell her the truth of her parentage. It was met with a simple “Oh, that’s cool”, a few simple questions, and then a deepening of the bond between us. It changed the level of trust we shared, I had shared with her my most deeply held secret, and she responded with love and understanding. A few months later, she confided in me that she is a lesbian, and I have been fully supportive of her identity. We now get along better than we ever have, and her confidence and motivation are at an all time high. We fight together for LGBT rights and celebrate our shared community, volunteering at a local LGBT youth center where she is making a whole new circle of friends.

    I just wanted to share my story with you, to say that others have gone down this path before, with great success and happiness in life. Love your child with all of your heart, and you will know when the right time is to share the details of her parentage. You and your wife are who she will look to as her model for what a person is supposed to be, what it means to be a woman, and how she should relate to the world around her. If she has been raised with love, her acceptance of the truth will be automatic.

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