The Complexities of Mothers Day
While in the course of human events these “special days” can always be fraught with potential complications as the mythology of the always happy family collides with the reality that families are made up of flawed people who do not always get along or even like each other, for trans people Mothers Day (and Fathers Day) present a particular set of potentially stressful circumstances for many.
Not only that but there are multiple iterations that might be discussed. For example, situations like mine. A friend of mine wished me happy Mothers Day this morning and I was touched and grateful for the sentiment, but my wife (who’s a great mother) would bitterly resent the idea that anyone would refer to me as a mother to her children and I do not even seek to be identified as such, albeit I’d prefer something slightly less gendered than “father” as well. But I’m aware of many families who’ve found a way to accommodate a trans parent as a mother without threatening the status of their child’s biological mother and I envy them. Obviously a similar dynamic plays out for other families on Fathers Day. But it is certainly a non-traditional and potentially awkward situation for even harmonious families to adjust to the role of a transitioned parent in the midst of these traditional observations. For families already struggling with the fallout of transition it can be a source of misery, not joy. Even worse for those transwomen estranged from their family altogether.
Relatedly, there’s the emotional struggle among trans women who long to be mothers in the classic biological sense and are denied (as ciswomen who are infertile) by biology from fulfilling that dream. Some of us are too old to do more than add that to the checklist of things we missed out on during a long life behind the mask. But others are in the midst of what should be their fertile years and no doubt Mothers Day brings a particular kind of grief.
On a happier note, it behooves us to speak many words of praise for the increasingly visible moms who love support and defend their trans children (of all ages). More and more high profile moms like Debbi Jackson and Kimberley Shappley go beyond just acceptance of their child to boldly confront the traditional worldviews that seek to oppress their kids in all walks of life. In my view, these mothers may well be the vanguard that makes the crucial difference in changing hearts and minds in communities and churches across the land in ways that will lead to the most good for future generations of trans people in spite of regressive political actors.
Like I said, it is a day that is very complex and holds potential for the entire range of human emotions. Hopefully we can laugh with those experiencing joy, and weep with those who grieve, and hold the hand of those who suffer while congratulating those who personify the very best of what it means to be a mam.
Photo by – Tim Inconnu