Coming Out as Genderqueer with Lesbian Moms
On the day of my birth, I was given the name Jenny Isabel. I don’t know what my birth mother’s labor was like or how I entered the world but I imagine I was screaming, crying, and fighting for air. Not much has changed. For all of you astrology lovers with lesbian moms out there, I’m a Gemini sun with a Pisces moon.
My birth mother was 21 and my birth father was 20. The only information I know about them is from my birth certificate and my mom’s stories of my birth mother. According to my birth certificate, they both lived in Lima, Peru and worked in different professions. My birth mother was a housekeeper and my birth father’s occupation was labeled merchant.
Before I was born my birth mother knew that she was not going to be able to give me or herself the life she hoped for so she set up an adoption plan with my godfather who was also my uncle and an attorney. Together, they set out to find the perfect family. Their journey eventually lead them to The United States and to my future moms.
My moms had just bought a house together and were looking to start their family. They were in their late 20’s and early 30’s and wanted the lesbian American dream of a house, kids, and a cat (or dog depending on which kind of lesbians you’re talking about). They already had a cat (yes, they’re cat lesbians) and a house so they were almost there. My moms began the adoption process like any other family, by filling out mountains of paperwork but unlike most families, my moms had to hide their true identity. Back in those days, my moms were afraid that outing themselves would deter agencies from allowing them to adopt so my oldest mom decided to file as a single woman looking to start her family.
Fast forward to a few months later, my moms opened up a package and saw me for the first time in 2-d. I was as cute as a button while sporting a sassy face in a onesie. My moms say that they instantly fell in love with me as soon as they saw that picture and they knew right then and there that I was their child. They used a different term for me back then but for all intents and purposes, I was and still am their child.
Fast forward again to my college graduation. My moms and I were driving home after and were talking about my most recent break up with my partner of eight years. A lot had happened in my college years and I was finally able to find the words to come out as queer and genderqueer to them and the rest of the world. Somehow I did it all in one fail swoop. Like most intense conversations with my moms it ended in tears and hugs and hand holding. They didn’t know much about being genderqueer because they are what I like to call “classic lesbians” who met on the softball field and have only known the world through a cis-gender lesbian identified lens, but they loved me and thought that love could conquer all. I wish I could say that they dedicated their life right then and there to queer, trans, and GNC (gender non-conforming) liberation but alas, they were classic lesbians who didn’t know where to start.
In the beginning the hardest thing for them to learn was to respect my pronouns, even when I wasn’t in the room. They would slip up and mispronoun me and when I would get upset and correct them they would, in turn, get upset and expect an apology from me for being so upset at them.
I am so thankful for my partners and friends who supported me during that time. My moms were not as supportive as I needed them to be while I was coming into my own and our relationship was strained for many years. I didn’t want to bring my friends around them because I heard one too many times that they would get cornered while I was in the bathroom by one of my moms and asked if I was going through a phase.
It still blows my mind that my moms would use the same hurtful language their families used against them when they came out as gay. I guess the saying is true, hurt people hurt people. While I celebrate being in a queer family I have also come to understand that my queer family lineage comes with a history of wounds that have never healed.
Our story is still being written but I can say, many years later, we are working to build a stronger future together. It’s taken me years to help them understand that I can’t be their trans 101 teacher and I finally feel like I’m making headway. Recently we have made a step in the right direction by going to family counseling together. So far it has helped a lot and I can envision a future where I am seen, heard, and held by my moms. My moms and I are working towards that future but the work is hard. Transgenerational trauma has been brought to the forefront of our work together and I struggle every session to be vulnerable but we are doing the work to break unhealthy cycles and strengthen our communication and bond. I’m not sure where the future will take us as a family but I am hopeful it will be in a direction that reflects my birth father’s Quechua last name, Quispe which means “Free”.