Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs on the planet. You bring life into the world and are expected to raise it into a full-fledged, functioning adult. There’s no how-to manual; no steps to follow. You’re thrown into it and you hope all turns out for the best.
But no matter how hard the job, the love of a parent is everlasting. This is true of all parents, no matter their sexuality or gender. This is especially important to remember as we celebrate National Transgender Parenting Day.
National Transgender Parenting Day falls every year on the first Sunday in November in order to honor the relationships between transgender parents and their children and transgender children and their parents.
Meet: Noelia. She is a 46-year-old transgender Venezuelan American, and mom to a 15-year-old daughter. We were lucky enough to have her tell us her story about what it’s like to navigate the world as a transgender parent.
Tell us a little about yourself and your journey.
I was born in Venezuela and I frequently traveled there after coming to the United States. That’s where I met my former wife, a cisgender female. We were married for 12 years.
From a young age, I was always very honest about my trans status to whomever I dated, including my former wife. However, during my marriage, it became a “taboo issue” and thus it was never discussed. I became depressed at the end and we agreed to separate after 12 years.
When did you start your transition?
I started transitioning when our daughter was 12, and I was 43. This was around the same time that my wife and I separated. I left Virginia which, in my opinion, is not a very transgender friendly state, and moved to the District of Columbia where I could procure the health and legal help I needed. I like to think of D.C. as a safe blue bubble. My daughter is now 15-years-old and she has been amazingly accepting and supportive.
What sort of hurdles do you deal with as a trans parent?
I believe I am a privileged transgender parent. I managed to sort all my legal stuff, like my name change. I am able to have medical care for both me and my daughter and thus, the normal day to day parenting job is easier. I am aware this will not be the case if my zip code was different. I feel that transgender parents and youth are under fire all over the country with anti-trans legislation and people do not understand how that would affect the most basic and mundane activities in daily parenting.
What do you want people to know about being a trans parent?
I want people to know that being transgender does not “DISQUALIFY” you of the honor of being a father or a mother. That if we can have a dignified life, we can carry on with our parental duties, just like anybody else. We also have our good days and bad days. We are NO different than any hetero cisgender family. Children are not born being racist or transphobic; they are what we teach them. Teach them about acceptance and compassion and they will have an amazing life.
What is your greatest joy as a parent?
Just the simple act of being able to function and parent is a miracle in itself. I hope to one day be able to see a fully formed adult fly the nest and go on about her life.
Were your parents accepting of your transition? What role do they play in your child’s life?
I have an extensive and “modern family.” They are very much accepting and supportive of me. All of them are fully involved in the upbringing of my child. I can’t stress enough the importance of acceptance and love. It can overcome anything. Love trumps hate.
What advice can you give a parent whose child is transgender?
My message to any parent that reads this is LOVE and ACCEPT your child no matter what! You only get one chance at this! You are all they got and if they choose to come out as ANYTHING, listen to them, be supportive, love them and protect them! That’s our only job as parents.
What would you say to other trans parents who might be struggling right now?
There is a silent mental health epidemic going on right now! It affects trans folks disproportionately. You might feel like the whole world has gone mad and is out to get you. But being trans is really about surviving and being fierce. You are not alone. Identify your support network, even if it’s just one person, and fight for your right to pursue happiness. Never GIVE UP!