In “Transgender Parenting: A Review of Existing Research,” researchers from UCLA’s Williams Institute estimated that between one 175,000 and 350,000 transgender adults are parents. Not surprisingly, they found that there is no evidence of developmental differences between children of transgender parents and those of other parents, and no differences in regard to the children’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
The authors recommend more research on how parent-child relationships evolve as a parent is transitioning and how gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and other factors could impact family formation rates among transgender people. Additionally, they say federal agencies and national population-based surveys should include questions to identify transgender respondents to help create “national benchmarks for certain aspects of transgender parenting” and to help assess the needs of trans-headed families.
That’s going to be difficult in this era, however, given what Adam Romero, federal policy director at the Williams Institute has this week called “a new policy or practice to exclude sexual orientation and gender identity measures from federal data collection efforts.” More reason for all of us LGBTQ folks to keep resisting and standing up to be counted.
- For transgender men wanting to become parents by bearing children, the 2015 article “Transgender Men and Pregnancy,” in the peer-reviewed journal Obstetric Medicine, offers some guidance to correct the lack of training that many healthcare professionals have in this area.
- The ACLU offers the free online publication, “Protecting the Rights of Transgender Parents and their Children: A Guide for Parents and Lawyers.”
- Lambda Legal gives us an FAQ About Transgender Parenting as well as “Transgender Rights Toolkit: A Legal Guide for Trans People and Their Allies,” with a section devoted to trans parents.
- The National Center for Transgender Equality has many resources for trans parents and the families of trans people.
- Transgender Family Law, by Jennifer Levi and Elizabeth Monnin-Browder, “is the first book to comprehensively address legal issues facing transgender people in the family law context and provide practitioners the tools to effectively represent transgender clients.”
- COLAGE offers a variety of resources and stories by and for kids of trans parents, including the Kids of Trans Resource Guide.
- Want to explain to your kids more about gender and what it means to be transgender?
- Here’s one trans man’s answer.
- Who Are You? The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity, by teacher and author Brook Pessin-Whedbee, “gives kids the language, and gives adults the language, to talk about gender and to learn about gender.” Pessin-Whedbee explains: “This is a book about all kids, and whoever reads it really gets to bring their own story to the book.”
- Other good resources for explaining reproduction and gender in inclusive ways are What Makes a Baby? and Sex Is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth.
- Transforming Family is a wonderful short film by Rémy Huberdeau about the challenges and strengths of transgender and gender-fluid parents and parents-to-be.
- Journalist Dawn Ennis, whom I had the pleasure of hanging out with at last week’s LGBT Media Journalists Convening, recently shared the video of a talk she gave on what it is like for her “to be both trans and a widow. To be a mom whom my kids call ‘Dad.’”
- U.A. Nigro tells us at Transgender Universe about when her wife came out as transgender to their kids, and how they navigated her transition as a family.
- Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders, by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Finney Boylan, professor of English at Colby College, tells of Boylan’s experiences as both a mother and a father, and explores what it means to be a mother or a father in today’s world. She observes, “Surely, if we make room for the mutability of gender, we have to accept that motherhood and fatherhood themselves are no longer unalterable binaries either.” Boylan’s brilliance is that she not only shows us what her particular experience as a transgender parent has been like, but also helps us to reflect upon the whole venture of parenting in general.
These are only a few of the many stories and experiences of trans parents. I hope we continue to hear and elevate more, for they add to the richness of our understanding of what it means to be a parent, whether we are cisgender, transgender, or gender nonconforming.
Let us remember, too, that trans people, parents and otherwise, still face significant challenges at a time when many feel they don’t even have the right to exist. Eight trans women of color have been murdered so far in 2017, most in their 20s or younger. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey has found that “Transgender respondents who experienced rejection by family and friends, discrimination, victimization, or violence have a higher risk of attempting suicide.” But even as we acknowledge these threats, we should remember that the stories of trans lives are about much more than victimhood. I wish my trans friends a day of celebration for all that you are.
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