Still a Father
My children call me dad. It is a very honorific title. I mean of course there is amazing honor in being someone’s dad. It is like the title of mom. It means a parent. There are, of course, gendered, antiquated notions tied to these titles. I understand that. I think I understand that better than some others actually.
When I first came out as Transgender I wrote a long post of my blog and on my Facebook, and I explained many embarrassing details of who I am to my friends and family. I had read the horror stories of awkward Thanksgiving conversations, and painful episodes involving aunts, uncles, and pronouns. I wanted to do two things. I wanted everyone to know where I stood on EVERYTHING, and I wanted to be safe. As a teen several members of my hometown beat me up, spit on me, and screamed faggot at me. I was the only openly BiSexual member of my high school class at that time in my small town USA. I am not excusing it, but it was typical and expected in the 1990s. Considering all the threats, like my Girlfriend’s brother who wanted to rededicate “Chuck-A-Queer Bridge”, I am surprised it only happened once (Not grateful it happened, not excusing it, just glad it didn’t happen again). Fear of it happening a second time has honestly plagued me my whole life. I went underground. I became secretive about who I told, where I allowed myself to act like myself. Fear still held on to me as I came out as Transgender years later.
I wanted to be safe. My instinct to hide was still there. I wanted to “pass” as a woman thinking that this was the easiest way to be out and safe. The problem is that is also NOT who I am. I am a transperson. I am femme, or feminine, mainly in how I feel and act, but not how I look. I am GenderQueer, or BiGender. As you might guess (if you don’t already know) that means I am a mix of two genders. If Male is East and Female is North I am NorthEast, smack in the middle, well OK maybe slightly more North NorthEast (It’s a thing look it up).
I told everyone to use Female/She/Her Pronouns for me. I began calling myself, and asking others to call me Charlemagne, or Charli for short. This was also a bit of a cop out. It was a way to play it safe as I had been Charles before this, and my family growing up called me Charlie (Said in our native Philadelphia/Jersey Shore speak as Chaa-Lee). I gave a pass to my partner, who had always called me Charles, to keep on with that, but they have been working to make those changes for me and I love them for it (and many other things).
The question was then, “What about my kids?” Well, I had been Father, Dad, and Daddy to them their whole lives. I understand that when some hear those words they only hear, male, man, and patriarchy. When I hear them I hear, love, hugs, pride. I love my children more than anything. They are my literal reason for living. They have been supportive, accepting, and understanding of everything I am going through. I have now embraced that I will never pass as a woman, and I frankly don’t want to. I am not a woman. I am not a man. I am me. I am They/Them. I am Charlemagne Rose. Above all of these things I am now, and always will be a Father. This is a personal choice, my choice, my family’s choice. I am sure others out there do this as well, just as others don’t. I am happy for the choices of other families, because some children refuse to see their parents as the gender they are. I weep for those people. I cannot imagine how that rejection hurts. If you get to decide and choose what you are called with your family, I rejoice for your happiness, and don’t care what choices you have made as it doesn’t change anything for my family. I am a parent who uses the name dad, because fatherhood means many things to many people, but to my kids it means me.