The Joy Of Raising A Trans Child, According To 7 Dads
“You get to see your child achieve what they want in life. They will develop into a new human, finding the place they want to be in the world.”
So many of the joys of raising kids are universal. Parents share the wonder of seeing our kids grow from bawling infants to crawling babies to reckless toddlers — and so quickly! And then we watch them evolve into independent, individual people, capable of expressing thoughts and opinions wholly unique to them.
Raising a trans kid is no different. Yes, there are unique challenges in raising a trans child in America in 2023, stemming from hateful speech and ignorant laws, not to mention groupthink, fear, and repression from neighbors, loved ones, and distant communities.
But when it comes to the bond between parent and child, that joy is incorruptible. There’s the pride that blossoms when they see their child get a haircut that matches their identity for the first time, the profound happiness they feel knowing they’re helping their child become who they want to be. That’s what we found when we talked to seven dads who are raising trans kids. They spoke about the joy of discovery, of advocacy, of seeing their child find their place in the world. Their love is evident and undeniable — and something worthy of our focus.
Seeing My Kid Find Their Place In The World — Again
“You get to see your child achieve what they want in life. They will develop into a new human, finding the place they want to be in the world, and learn new things about themselves. Isn’t that what the joy of parenthood is really all about? With transition, I got to do it all over again. I got to be Dad to a new person with new goals and hopes and dreams. I get to help her get there. I’m seeing her flourish as a girl — at her sister’s wedding, on family trips, and other events. We celebrate the wins — even the small ones.” —Gil, 62, Asheboro, North Carolina
Learning About Gender Again, For The First Time
“There’s joy in having a kid who cares so much about who he is. When I was going through my own adolescence, I never questioned that I was male, but I didn’t think about what that meant. I just absorbed it from car chase movies and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But now I’m watching a kid who’s questioning his identity, including this thing I’ve always taken for granted. When kids of his generation talk about gender, it's a foreign concept to me, but they’re talking their native language. They have this other level of identity and exploration that I’m getting to learn about through him.” — Allan, 49, Poughkeepsie, New York
Clothes Shopping — And Day-To-Day Advocacy
“One of the simpler highlights of raising my two trans kids Indigo and Mars was taking both of them, individually, to go clothes shopping. They asked me separately if I would help them shop for masculine clothes. That they asked me was in itself an indescribable joy. And in both cases, the experiences were incredibly poignant — and so much fun. On the more serious side, Indigo and I have participated together in advocacy at the Texas legislature, testifying against bills attacking trans kids. It has been extremely stressful and painful to witness the hatred and fear against trans kids. But it has also been a bonding experience for our family and gave us the opportunity to meet some wonderful families with trans kids from all over Texas.” — Neil, 57, Houston, Texas
Relating And Re-Parenting
“The experience of our young son’s transitioning has really brought back memories of my and my husband’s own coming-out stories. Despite having loving parents, coming out was traumatic at the time — we know how hurtful people’s reactions can be. There’s joy in feeling like we’re ready to meet this moment of transition for our son, that we can use our hurt to comfort him as well as advocate for him.” — Adam, 43, Manchester, Vermont
Seeing The Power Of Unconditional Love
“My stepson Sam is a great kid. As someone who didn't have supportive parents as a kid, it’s been a pleasure to be part of a support system that provides unconditional love and is helping him through a process that can be very difficult — so he can become his best possible self. He went from being scared ordering food at restaurants and anxious pre-transition to performing in every school play and being so secure, authentic, and at peace with himself post-transition.” — Apollo, 39, Brooklyn, New York
Getting My Kid “Back”
“There’s joy in watching my kid live her life and be her true self. She’s the kid we remember raising, with the same spirit and personality. In the years before she came out and embraced her true self, that person went away for a while. Now that she has begun her transition, she’s back and thriving. When she first came out, my wife and I shared, ‘We don’t understand.’ And my kid replied, ‘It’s not for you to understand. This is who I am.’ I learned to set aside my opinions, my fears, thinking that it’s a phase — and instead to wrap my arms around her and embrace her. We told her, ‘We’re going to deny you your tragic backstory. Your family loves you.’ She’s going to be loved and accepted no matter what happens.” — Brad, 49, San Antonio, Texas
Making A Real Impact
“I’m very proud of the changes my son Dylan and I have impacted. The beginning years of the transition were overwhelming — including navigating health insurance at a time when trans health was not widely understood or covered. I work at a progressive company, but it did not have policies in place. It was stressful for me to get Dylan’s needs covered. Dylan gave a presentation called Trans 101 to over 50 of my colleagues in order to win hearts and minds. It took many years of effort, but my company now covers trans health. This was a huge victory — not only for Dylan but for the other people that would come after.” — Dan, 51, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York