Family-building

A Dad by Any Other Name

Our Own LabelsThere’s a dilemma that pretty much faces every parent who transitions after children come into their lives.

What does my kid call me?

There is usually a post about this on the more popular trans parenting facebook communities every couple of months. I find them super interesting from a sociological sort of perspective, because there’s almost no consensus.

Jetpack, for example, calls my partner and me by our first names. I began transition while he was very small, and it ended up being a complex but smooth process. At first he called us Mom and Dad, and then we began referring to each other as “Daddy T” and “Daddy J.” (J was the first initial of my old name.) That was clunky, but it worked! It got more complicated when I changed my name, and when everyone in our lives started calling me Levi. Eventually we started dropping the “Daddy,” and Jetpack has called me Levi ever since.

Other families do it differently, though! Some parents choose to continue to be Dad or Mom even after that gendered terminology no longer fits with their physical appearance. Some parents choose words that are similar to Mom or Dad, but different. (Da instead of Dad, for example.) This seems to be an excellent set-up for families with a cisgendered parent who isn’t always comfortable with being one of two moms or two dads.

Plenty of families choose more gender-neutral parenting terms, too. There’s actually a fantastic list here. And how cute is the term Zaza?

Obviously these questions are not trans/genderqueer exclusive—cis gendered queer familes have been struggling with what-to-be-called for a long time. But when gender identity is so strongly tied in to our family titles, and when we as trans and genderqueer individuals are struggling to be correctly identified, seen, and heard in a widely transphobic society, the fight to be called Mom, Dad, or something else has a whole new dimension.

To queer families with non-cis members, you’re not alone! Other families are tackling these questions. It can be so easy for some and so difficult for others. As complicated as it may be, it will be okay! Good luck with your journey!

To queer (and not queer!) families who ARE cis, remember that this is a difficult process! Please don’t look at someone weirdly or correct a kid for using terminology that you don’t understand. Go with what the kid is comfortable with, and if you have questions, ask in a way that does not draw attention.

Queer families are fantastic. I love that we get to make this stuff up as we go along because we have to think about our personal identities as well as who we are in our own families, resulting in some pretty passionate and fascinating parents, as far as I can tell.

4 Comments

  1. Zaza is SO CUTE! I wonder how mini-zaza will feel when they are a teenager. 🙂

    As a Mima, I loved this post.

    • ah yay, teenagers. although teens don’t really talk to us lowly parents, they just sort of grunt and wave right?

      also possibly they’ll have an at-home name and a public name. Jetpack often calls me “my dad” or “my dads” at school, though he never calls us that at home.

      Mima! adorable 🙂

  2. Always good to think about these things. Thanks Levi!

  3. Deborah Goldstein says:

    “To queer (and not queer!) families who ARE cis, remember that this is a difficult process! Please don’t look at someone weirdly or correct a kid for using terminology that you don’t understand.”

    Great advice. Sharing!

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