Being a parent is a challenge…
If you are a parent, you probably read that sentence and had a brief playback of your child's last tantrum. Being a parent outside of the “Norm” is even more of a challenge and it has little to nothing to do with your child.
I grew up in a big family in a small town. I have 6 siblings and lots of nieces, nephews, and cousins. Being a parent was something that I always knew I would be. I faced my first hurdle with that reality when at the age of 17 I came out as a lesbian and I would face the same reality 2 more times when I came out as transgender at 19 and when I came out as gay at 21.
When my husband and I got married, we knew that we wanted a child. I started hormone replacement therapy in October of 2013 but still had the capability of carrying a child. In April of 2016, I stopped testosterone and we jumped on the TTC train. It did not take long before we had a positive pregnancy test. We found out we were expecting in June.
Now, remember how I said parenting outside of the “Norm” earlier? Being a pregnant man is far from the “Norm.” Overall, I had a positive experience but it wasn’t just handed to me. I had to fight for myself. At our second prenatal appointment, the OB that was overseeing our midwife came in and told us that we needed to go to an MFM doctor because our pregnancy was high risk due to the testosterone. It was at that moment that I knew the fight would begin. That night my husband and I (independently) came up with and solved a complex algorithm to prove that at the time of conception the amount of testosterone in my system was within the reasonable range for an individual who was classed as biologically female. #Engineers. This exercise, backed by several professional papers, proved that there was no need for an MFM specialist and was even further proven during the birth of our perfectly healthy baby girl.
As we went along through the pregnancy, we had some more minor bumps--mostly surrounding the concept of the unknown. “How do I get excused from class for morning sickness, contractions, doctors appointments without telling the teacher I am a pregnant trans man?” “What if my water breaks during an exam?” “How do I tell them I won't be in class for a while because I had a baby?” Ultimately, it all worked out thanks to Title IX (Read more about Title IX: http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/inclusion/title-ix-frequently-asked-questions).
Now that we have been parents to this wonderful, opinionated, and somewhat sassy toddler for 2 years, it has made me reflect on being a gay parent. Being trans doesn’t play into our daily life as much as it did when I was pregnant, mostly because I don’t typically introduce myself as the gestational parent unless it is needed.
One of the first challenges that I faced after our little girl was born was finding girls clothing that did not have phrases like “mommy’s princess” and “I get my looks from mom”. Why is it that girls clothing has to be all about “mom” and boys all about “dad”? Along the same line, I find it very difficult when a stranger says things like, “your mommy and daddy must be proud!” While this may seem harmless to most, it can be very demeaning to others. Why must we assume that every child has a mom and dad? Not only does this affect LGBT families but single parents and many others.
By far the most insulting and frustrating challenge of all is the question game.
“Who is the father?”
“Did you have a surrogate?”
“Did you adopt?”
“Who is the mom?”
“Are you brothers?”
And on and on. And on. The questions are endless. And this is why, more often than not, when we go out as a family we don’t act like a family. We watch our language, we don’t hold hands, and we act more like friends than partners.
Right now these small changes in our public life have no significant impact on our daughter but that will change as she grows. Why should that, of all the possible worries in life, be what I am most worried about in parenting?
Like I said, parenting is difficult…
My name is Ian Rein I am a gay transgender man, happily married with a very active toddler. I grew up in central Illinois and now currently live in St Louis. I have two engineering degrees and enjoy my work as a municipal engineer. I spend my free time crafting and sewing utilizing recycled materials to make new creations. Along with my engineering degrees, I have a minor in sustainability and that means I spend a lot of time caring for the environment which is why we decided to use cloth diapers.When I became a parent my whole world changed but I would not trade the long nights and busy lifestyle that has taken over for anything. That transition to parent life was made much easier by Grovia and their products. As a Grovia Content Creator, it is my goal to expand the reach of Grovia to the LGBTQ+ community and share my story. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it is important to support inclusive businesses, especially those on a smaller scale and it is sometimes very hard to find those companies.