Trans Parenting: I'm Called "Mum" But We Don't Celebrate Mother's Day

"Follow your own rainbow (CC)" by Purple Sherbet Photography Licensed under CC BY 2.0. Some Rights Reserved.
“Follow your own rainbow (CC)” by Purple Sherbet Photography Licensed under CC BY 2.0. Some Rights Reserved.

Ninety-nine percent of people in my life neglected to wish me a happy Mother’s Day. The result: It was the best Mother’s Day of my parental life.

I have two children. They call me “mum.” Mother’s Day is not a thing we do in this house. In fact, because it has never been mentioned, Andrew asked, “Does Canada have Mother’s Day?”

I’m a trans man.

Oh, how confusing all of this must be for some readers. It must be. It can not only be confusing for my immediate family — Andrew, Kid1 and Kid2 — but, also, for me.

Maybe we should rewind time to nearly 19 years ago to when I gave birth to Kid1.

I carried him for just over nine months. I birthed him. The forms I filled out to register birth never asked for “Mother’s Name” or “Father’s Name.” Instead, they asked for “Parent 1” and “Parent 2.”” The same followed for school enrollment forms, medical forms, passport forms, etc., etc.

However, as the result of biology, automatically, I was given the label of “mum,” never thinking that much about it.

Just over 15 years ago, the same followed when I gave birth to Kid2.

When I gave birth to Kid2, I still didn’t know much about this whole transgender thing. That would come about a year later, once I took my Abnormal Psychology class, as part of my psychology degree requirement. It was at that point that things finally started to click. I stopped praying that I was born intersex and that my parents made the wrong choice, and began my journey to accepting that I was a trans man.

Before I publicly “came out” three years ago, my children always knew that I was different than the mothers of their peers. Without prompting, they would describe me as a gay man trapped in a girl’s body. They just knew. They always got it, on some level. But, because of biology, I was still called “mum.”

Around the time that I came out in public, as my boys were older and could formulate specific questions about what it means for me to be a trans man, Kid2 asked, “Do I have to start calling you ‘dad’ now?

I thought about it for a bit and decided, no, because I am the parent who birthed them. I see the labels “mum” and “dad” more as labels to describe biological functions, rather than societal constructs. Though, most people see them as societal constructs, which can cause so much confusion.

Fast-forward to this past Mother’s Day. It was late in the day and I had realized that neither of my children, nor Andrew, had wished me a happy Mother’s Day. Andrew didn’t even know Canada does Mother’s Day, so that explained that. Late in the day, I decided to ask Kid2 why he hadn’t wished me a happy Mother’s Day for the last few years, and he said, “Well… I wasn’t sure if it would be appropriate because, well… you know. It’s just not you.”

Again, my children simply “get it.” They understand all of this, without ever needing to sit them down for “talks.” If only it was that simple with the adults in my life. More on that in a bit.

Then, there was a brief discussion about how wishing me a happy Father’s Day would probably be more appropriate. However, I’m not even sure that fits because I label myself “parent,” and for most of my children’s lives, I was the parent, having to “play” both roles.

Andrew’s mum also had questions about it because they call me “mum” but I’m not a “mum.” Andrew said, “Jules is the parental unit. However, there is no Happy Parental Unit Day, so it’s just not a thing in our house.”

Each year, I get less and less “Happy Mother’s Day!” wishes. This year, I only got one, which made me feel good as, slowly, people are understanding.

Though, part of me wishes it didn’t take people so long. Most trans people I know, it took their friends only six months to stop using the wrong pronouns. Three years later, I’m still having to correct 99 percent of the people who know that I’m transgender in regards to proper pronouns, including my closest friends — the ones who signed relationships contracts.

It’s frustrating, to say the least.

As always, if you don’t know, are curious, or are unsure, simply ask the question. Especially as each transgender person has their own preferences.

Because of biology, I’m okay with the my children making use of the word “mum.” Other trans men may prefer “dad.” So ask. As for the greater world, I prefer “parent.” That is what I am.

As a reminder about pronouns, I prefer the singular “they/them” because it forces people to view me as a person instead of a gender. That said, I love it when people use “he/him” in reference to me. So that is okay, too. Or, just simply use my name instead of a personal pronoun. But, it’s never okay to use “she/her,” “wife,” “lady,” “ma’am,”or anything else that feminizes me.

There are no hard and fast rules. Each transgender person has individual wants and needs. When adding children to the mix, it can get even more confusing.

Maybe one day we’ll have a Parental Unit Day to honor families who do not fit into the “traditional” makeup.

Until that day happens, I’m just happy that I’ve finally experienced a Mother’s Day where I didn’t feel like a complete fraud, and, as a result, had a marvelous day. It may have been a slow road, but I think people in my life are finally starting to see me for me.

It feels wonderful.

If this post has brought up any questions in your mind about transgender parenting, please let me know in the comments. I’ll do my best to answer them in a post. While my experiences may not always work for you, like my geeky-queer wedding planning series, maybe it will help you to find the road that works best for you and your family, while knowing that you are not alone in your journey.

Jules Sherred is a parent, author, radio personality, blogger and freelance writer, gamer, tech enthusiast, website designer, science nerd, sci-fi freak, hard core Trekker, and has an unnatural obsession with Optimus Prime. He/him/his.