Trans-parental nomenclature

It’s not something that’s relevant in my own life, but for those in families where one parent is transitioning I see problems as to how the transitioning parent should be addressed within a family where younger children are involved.

Ariadne over at Translucidity has posted about the experiences of her family, and it got me thinking on this.

Does our language need to come up with new nomenclatures for parents who transition?

Whilst that parent will probably always still be “Mum” or “Dad” to their children it is incongruous to refer to, say, a now female biological father as “Dad” all the time.

The first obvious solution would be to in some way intermix the standard, gender defining titles of Mum, Mom, Dad, Mother and Father, but this doesn’t work. One ends up with words like Mather, Fother or, worse still, Dum, Dom and Mad!

Ariadne’s family are working through this together in a sensible and caring manner and will no doubt settle on something appropriate for all of them with regard to how Lisa is addressed, but is that what happens in all such families? I don’t know.

So I’d be interested to hear of any Trans-Parental naming conventions that you feel might be appropriate as a generalised solution to this problem plus, of course, your own experiences of overcoming the issue within your own family situation as others may find this helpful.

19 thoughts on “Trans-parental nomenclature

  1. I would be interested, too, because I have to figure this out soon myself. I was planning to go the whole “I’ll always be Daddy as long as you want” route, and the fact that I don’t live with her or her mother anymore might mitigate the pronoun confusions in my general vicinity (plus, I get the feeling my ex is going to be the slowest damn person to start gendering me correctly, either from stubborn habit or sheer spite, its hard to tell sometimes). But I’ve also been thinking that my girl is real head strong and might just want to call me something else. I’d really not leave it up to her.

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      • Well, I don’t mention it often, but she has her own issues. We haven’t quite pinned it down yet, but at the very least she’s extremely narcissistic and has problems seeing the world except through her own eyes (even for a child). She’s gotten better, but I’m not sure that’s actual improvement, or her intellect growing and realizing she has to at least look like she cares what happens to other people.

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        • Right, and with a definite underlying thing happening, too, that we’ve been trying to root out since she used to respond SUPER violently when upset. We had her checked to see if she was on the autism spectrum, and it was a negative, but we’ve actually thought about having it done again since it was like the shortest assessment ever, and my girl is scary good at acting “normal” around people she doesn’t know (which makes this shit doubly difficult, believe you me).

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        • Yup.

          I could also be severely over thinking it, and she very well could be like “well, I’ll call you this, hows that” and things would be gravy. But I’ve never been able to figure how she’ll react to any given stimuli that’s technically “not her problem.” Or, really, what she’ll consider actually effects her and therefore becomes her problem.

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  2. I was wondering, reading her post, how most lesbian parents might cope with the situation. I believe I have heard of situations in which one has happily assumed the title of “dad”, though I can’t recall the details.

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  3. Thanks for posting this! I’m also interested in knowing how other families have sorted this out. I think I read in Jennifer Finney Boylan’s books that they had settled on calling her “Maddy”… which is better than the alternative combination “Dummy” I suppose, but still not quite what we wanted. I know a few lesbian couples, but none with children, so I don’t know how they have solved the problem for themselves. We do have two kids books about lesbian families, one with a “Mama” and a “Mommy”, and one with a “Meema” and a “Marmie.”

    Part of our problem, of course, was that we have had nearly 10 years of me being the only female-presenting parent, and so I let the kids call me “Mom”, “Mommy”, or “Mama” as they chose, so we’re used to all of those names referring to me… I’m more attached to “Mom/Mommy” so I think it’s easier for me to give “Mama” over to my spouse, though it would have been easier still if it could have been that way from the beginning!

    A final consideration that I didn’t really touch on is that keeping “Dad” has the potential to out my partner to people who don’t know she’s trans. What if she takes the kids into a public women’s bathroom, and they call her “Dad”, or if they tell a friend’s parent that “Dad” will pick them up, and then a woman shows up. It would mean making it an issue every time the kids are involved. So while letting go of “Dad” is a little sad for all involved, I think it will make life easier in the future.

    Again, thanks for posting this, and I’m interested to hear other people’s thoughts!

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    • Yes, while the transgender parent will always still be “Mum” or “Dad” in the kids hearts, and there may be situations in private where that name may be used in conversations of a particularly personal or difficult nature as the children grow, the major concern here is in finding terminology which becomes the norm both within and away from the home environment in order to avoid those public issues.
      I’m happy to help in opening the subject up to as wide an audience as possible for you, Araidne, because I feel it’s so important that the children and the parents in these situations feel as comfortable as possible with something that is such an everyday part of their lives.

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