“Yes, I’m Son 2’s …uh, parent.”

“When is the teacher going to come get you? Someone just peed on my leg.” Bob Dylan as Transman. Lots of little English kids as Son 2 and other kindergarteners. Image from LastFM.

All over the country, this is the last weekend of freedom for school-age children. The endless days of summer come to an abrupt halt on Monday, and they will be hauled off to day prison school. Kids in a neighboring county went back last week, the poor things.

Transman put off enrolling Son 2 in the local school because it was such a bad experience for Son 1. However, Transman can’t afford private school or to move them to a better school district, so he sucked it up and took Son 2 to the elementary school they are zoned for and filled out the paperwork. Even though he put down his legal (read: girl) name, and marked the box that said “mother,” the staff and teachers looking at him called him “sir” most of the time.

This is a clear sign that Transman is being read as male more often than he realizes. So, now the dilemma: how to handle school in a way that has the least negative impact on Son 2?

While his medical history is no one’s business, Transman feels like since his legal name and paperwork still classify him as female, he needs to put that down on forms. But, since he is seen as male, it would be less confusing to most people to just introduce himself by his male name.

“Welcome to school! I love each and every one of you!” If Son 2 is lucky, his teacher will be as nice as Miss Honey.

Transman doesn’t know if he should disclose his status to the school administration and Son 2’s teacher before classes start so they understand why the paperwork says one thing and Transman’s appearance says another and just cut off questions before they start. Or, is it better to let Son 2 get a couple weeks under his belt so they get to know him and have had time to build a relationship?

The rational side of Transman expects professionalism on the part of the school–he expects the administration and faculty to handle this information the same as they would with any private family matter that might possibly impact what goes on in the classroom.

The paranoid side of him fears many things:

  • having his children shunned and rejected
  • having someone try to remove his children from their home
  • having people who do not understand anything about transgender people challenge Transman’s ability to raise healthy, normal children
  • being outed in a conservative area, which might open his family up to harassment or violence

He wants to give the teacher a heads up so that when the kids in the class call Transman Son 2’s daddy, she doesn’t “correct” them and make the situation even more confusing for everyone. (Kids generally look at Transman and see a Daddy instead of a Mommy.)

“Yeah, well … your mama wears a pocket square!” Alfalfa and Butch as Son 2 and classmate.

He also doesn’t want to give children a reason to tease Son 2. If everyone sees Daddy, why say “Mommy” and then give kids ammunition?

Not all of Transman’s fears are related to him being transgender. Most of it is actually wrapped up in good old-fashioned fear that comes with letting go.

Transman knows he is imposing his own memories of how alienating and cold school was; his own offspring might love school and fit right in. He knows he needs to give Son 2 the chance to be like any other kid, but Transman can’t help seeing the more vulnerable parts of his own personality in Son 2.

Transman is afraid the boy will be bullied because he is creative and open and naive–all the things that get kids, especially boys, picked on. He doesn’t want his son to give up on school and learning because other kids home in on those qualities and make him feel bad.

Here is where testosterone steps in. Where old Transman would have given in to those feelings before giving Son 2 a chance to establish his own personality, new Transman is holding back. He will let his son go into the world and make his own way. Transman will be here to support him and help him, but he knows he can’t live life for the lad.

Transman did ask Son 2 whether he would like to break out the grill and cook or whether he wanted to make nachos and rent a movie, and when he did, he felt like a prison warden offering a condemned man his last meal.

“I ate fish sticks and macaroni and cheese last night,” Tim Robbins as Son 2 on the first day of school. Image from fanpop.com

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44 responses to ““Yes, I’m Son 2’s …uh, parent.”

  • bluebutterfliesandme

    Would sensitive Son 2 like to take a martial arts class? Might empower him against bullies? My nephew did not go to public school until he was twelve. He is artistic and sensitive as well but he had done fine. He sells his popular drawings of some character kids like.

    • transparentguy

      We’ll see how things go. He’s actually been good about standing up for himself most of the time, so it may not be an issue at all.

      I’d like for him to take up martial arts or something similar to help him learn to channel all his energy.

  • janetolshewsky@verizon.net

    This is heart-wrenching. I’m praying for you.   

  • Daisy

    Sending kids back off to school (day prison- yes!) is a hard thing for me too, even though I don’t have the extra difficulties you do. Son 2 (and son 1) are blessed to have a parent so tuned into their well being. I hope it goes well for all of you. :)

  • trisha1den

    How did u channel my very thoughts?

  • walkwiththerabbi

    Thank you sir for another peek into life “on the other side.” Here’s to wishing you wisdom as you pursue this new season for son numero deux. Break a leg!

  • Rachel

    I am about to embark on the same journey twice. One son starting sixth grade and another starting high school. New area, new schools, new challenges. It’s a little comforting to know someone feels the same things I am. Only from a more fatherly perspective :-)
    It’s hard having to remember to let them go and be supportive. It’s strange having sudden feelings of wanting to hold them and protect them from the big bad world out there. I guess estrogen will do that too you.

    • transparentguy

      Thanks. The boys are so different in ages and personality, it’s like having two different families sometimes. I can never use Son 1’s experiences and reactions to life’s milestones to get an idea of what will happen with Son 2.

  • sweetmother

    oh, the things ‘alt’ families must think about, huh. lawd, i’m sending you good vibes. but, with a creative dad as smart and as talented as you, i’m guessing son 2 will be fine, regardless of life’s pesky speed bumps. stay strong, trans. sm

    • transparentguy

      I wonder if we were in a more liberal area if these things would be such an issue. I know a lot of people will point at this kind issue and say I’m being selfish by pursuing transition. “But think of the children!” What they don’t understand is how much better our home/emotional lives are now.

      • sweetmother

        you know, with all you’re going through, it seems to me that your blanket mantra needs to be, “Feck What THEY Think,” which is of course, WAY easier said than done. you are right that it would be less of an issue in say, san francisco or new york, but you’re not there and the rest of the world needs to get used to alternative families not only being located around the big metropolises, but everywhere. as for things being better at home… that’s really all you’re responsible for in the end. you’re not responsible for what your neighbors think. stay strong and much love, mother

      • transparentguy

        Thanks, Mom! Your encouragement is appreciated.

      • sweetmother

        it’s my pleasure. you’ve got to be you. i’d stand by that any day. xo

  • Fathead Follies

    Good lord, being a parent just isn’t easy, is it? I hope all goes well for #2 (I feel like StarTrek’s Captain Pickard, saying that). I will cross my fingers for you.

  • Alison

    This is such a hard situation, but having read you for a while I am fully confident that you are a great parent who will deal with any incidents perfectly. Allan (my long suffering parent) says to salute you for the use of Mr Dylan and not Depp and that as an ex-Principal you are best going with your intuition and if anything happens go straight to the Principal and threaten to go to the Superintendent and you should get what you need sort.

    I wish you and Son 2 all the best. And that he gets a teacher like Miss Honey who encourages him to be the best he can be, just as you do at home.

    x

    • transparentguy

      Thanks to you and Allan for the advice. I’m just hesitant with this particular school because of its reputation and our experience in the past.

      Tell Allan it’s hard for me to mock Dylan in the captions so Depp usually winds up being the default image.

      • Alison

        Yep, the mocking thing got a raised eyebrow followed by a chuckle.

        You and Allan would definitely get on really well. Both into music and similar senses of humour.

        I could bake cookies with Son 2 while you guys and Son 1 lay on the couch doing great imitations of potatoes. :) (That was my revenge for you saying it was easy to mock Depp!)

        The Superintendent of Schools should still be able to help you with anything and from the sounds of it, Son 2 is going to have his teacher fall in love with him on sight!

  • NakedEnvelope

    I really love your stories, thanks for sharing!!
    -MIranda

  • Stacie Chadwick

    I love your openness and honesty. I hope everything goes well for son #2, but if it doesn’t, he’ll have a smart, compassionate, and honest parent to fall back on.

  • saradraws

    I plan to relive my school years through my daughter. Only she’ll be cool, and I will be redeemed. Can’t wait.
    Wishing you courage as the social experiment that is school wears on.

  • Ginasf

    Dear TPG: As a fellow trans “parent/generic human being who is raising a child but may not label themselves with a gendered parental term because how dare I subsume their other parent’s cis-title of mother” I really enjoyed your essay. My daughter is now 15, it’s been quite a long while since I transitioned and even though I’m usually called by my first name instead of ‘mom’ (not a huge fan of that, but, hey…), the M- word occasionally pops up out of my daughter’s and bystander’s mouths (I’m a half-time single parent). Yes, being a “parent” sucks and it’s sometimes hard not to feel ‘less than’ the rest of Klub Mommi and that I never got to shop in those gross Hanna Anderson catalogs and buy ugly flowing 100% cotton matching dresses and sun bonnets for daughter & mommy. Guess the rest of cis-society is ‘the boss of me.’ Hang in there baby!

    • transparentguy

      Yeah, it is definitely strange territory. I don’t feel right being called “Dad” by my kids since that’s what they call their father. I know step-fathers get called “dad” or “daddy” even though they’re not biological fathers to the child, but it still feels weird to me.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences. If you stop back by, leave a link to your blog if you keep one.

  • maybe a new leaf

    So did you decide whether or not to give the teacher a head’s up? We are in a very similar situation with our 6 y.o.

  • Just Let Me Bawl and Eat Cool Whip Out of the Tub | Sincerely, Slapdash

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  • Eris of Discord

    Transman,

    Hi. Long time no see. I’m not qualified to offer advice because this time around I haven’t had the foresight to get preggers and birth the childrens yet. Or to get other people preggers and raise them. Or adopt. Shame on me, with all these options. You’d think I’d have children by now.

    Always expect people to act professionally. Professionalism is the fruit of America. The ripe, juicy fruit. It tastes like onions and horse dung.

    When it comes to transgenderism it’s like peoples’ brains give out. Not everyone, of course. Allies are cool. We all love allies. I don’t wanna ostracize anyone. You can join the cool supportive group, guys, all you have to do is be polite.

    But moving on, yeah. Their brains do this shutdown thing. Where they want to put us in categories. Unfortunately, the human brain is not capable of holding more than two categories at once- and lots of subcategories. The first category is Us. The second category is Them. Unless you are in their Us list, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be having a good time explaining anything. If you’re one of Them then they can make all kinds of assumptions about you that are basically true in their mind because, let’s face it, they aren’t being paid enough to get to know you better.

    Of course this is exactly the type of thinking I’m talking about too. It’s a great big trap. Since you are likely in their Them list (and also because no one reads paperwork at first, they always wait until it’s going to be extremely inconvenient for them to realize discrepancies between stuff written down and stuff in Real Life), it’s pretty hard to get professionalism. Unless you’ve reason to believe they are highly trained, that is. If they are highly trained, you might just have a chance. But I just used the words highly and trained in reference to ‘merica’s education system. I think I’ve already lost. I love all the teachers who work hard at their jobs and maintain professionalism in the field, by the way. Tolerance is an ideal. I think that’s probably why it’s so hard to achieve.

    Honestly I’m not sure what to do about it, other than offer a hug, though. I’m going to go ahead and blame that on the lack of ice cream. I should be eating more ice cream.

    On the other hand, despite all this terrible adversity, I think you’ll find a way. You’re pretty awesome, Transman. How couldn’t you? It’d be like if superman was defeated by mere bullets. Or like if batman got knocked out by common thugs. Not that I think the education system is a thug. Just that if batman and superman were around it would get its butt kicked, big time.

    <3s,
    Eris

    PS: You are brave and wonderful to give both of your kids a chance at public school. You're absolutely right in thinking that it's different for everyone. What fits one does not fit all. Of course, that's one of public school's major failings, but maybe it'll fit Son 2 anyway? Only time will tell.

    • transparentguy

      Wow, Eris, I’m overwhelmed that you were inspired to write this response. You bring up a lot about the way people are compelled to categorize and label and impose order on the world that I think about, but haven’t addressed in writing yet. Not in a concentrated way, anyway.

      Sometimes I look at your writing and some of the posts by other people and think I don’t really address some of the more complicated things about my life in a deep enough way. I’m always making jokes instead.

      Thank you, as always, for coming by and reading.

  • Miss Snarky Pants

    You know I’ll be thinking of all of you and waiting to hear how this turns out. I am happy to hear that you’re being acknowledged by most for the man you are. BTW, is it that difficult to change your first name legally at this point? Must gender be proved – or isn’t it sufficient for the law to recognize the gender that you identify with the most?

  • munchkinmeep

    Thank you for your support. I am glad I found your blog; I imagine it will be a good launch point for thoughtful discussion when my (trans) S.O. and I have our own brood of children and we are trying to reflect on how our parents raised us but also try to improve what we perceive as shortcomings. Keep up the lovely posts!

  • munchkinmeep

    And good luck with name and gender marker change paperwork. We were struggling with it recently, and our best help was a local law library that had open consultations. A fantastic volunteer made everything correct and printed out a new set of accurate documentation. The drawback was that funding in the local courthouse has been cut so much that name change intake is limited to one day a week (so keep an eye out for that when you get your stuff done — and don’t lose heart!).

  • Updates, updates « theadventuresoftransman

    [...] 3. Son 2′s new teacher is just as wonderful as Miss Honey. “And then after we have story time, we will paint, listen to music, have a snack, and play on the monkey bars!” Miss Honey by Quentin Blake. “Maybe we can even play Twister later!” [...]

  • Pollyanna Darling

    Wow, tricky. You are amazingly clear in your thinking and writing – a blessing for your sons. I think school sucks, but my Son 1 enjoys it for the social possibilities and leadership options. Sons 2 and 3 are on the fence about day prison and Son 4 is happily too young. There’s no way to be a perfect parent, something we do will always mess them up! So we may as well go with the current trend (ie. imprisoning young humans and filling their minds up with archaic twaddle so the parents can have a break/earn money/blog/worry about the kids). I am imagining a whole new genre of schools that are free, creative, imaginative, inspired and encourage little humans to become wildly creative, compassionate adults.
    ps. Love your blog. Will come back.

    • transparentguy

      The schools you dream about do exist. A.S. Neill started a school called Summerhill in 1921. He believed that children could be trusted with their own educations and that we are hard-wired to learn and create and just need the right environment for it to happen in. Over the past century, Free or Democratic schools have popped up around the globe carrying on his vision.

      http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

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