One aspect of myself that I don’t talk about as often here, is that I am a parent, specifically, a nursing parent. I am far from the only transmasculine person who has chosen, for their own reasons to be a gestational and/or lactating parent. Our stories may not be told often but they exist in more quantity than many cis gender people may imagine.
While certain aspects of both pregnancy and lactation have caused me a great deal of both physical and social dysphoria. It has also been one of my most cherished experiences. Life changing in both it’s highs and lows.
Pregnancy in all of it’s nauseated, emotional, round, glory, was what led me to realize that I am transgender at all. The inescapable assumed womanhood goddess of it allowed me to connect some dots I had never quite dared connect before.
Today I nurse my last baby, for as long as needed. I am not conflicted about the lactation itself (though it is worth mentioning that for many trans folks it is very emotionally difficult if not down right impossible, and that is no less important. Parents make different choices in regards to feeding and growing their infants, the best choice for their families, ours is not the place to judge.) However the results of actively lactating can be both physically and socially straining for myself and others in many ways.
I have mentioned before, that I am coded as female, in public because I have a baby with me and am not particularly cis passing. To expound a bit on that, nursing can make that even worse. Our culture by and large refuses to acknowledge the existence of lactating and gestating parents who are not women.
Then not only do I have to cope with the physical dysphoria of never being able to ignore the body that does not in anyway coincidence with my gender identity, I have to deal with the dismissal and ultimately transphobic avoidance of acquaintances, friends, even lovers. After all, aren’t I a mother? Do I not feed babies with quite visible teats?
And perhaps I am in my ways, a creation deity, a mother growing life with my own life force. Perhaps. But I am also a daddy, a parent, a papa…Perhaps… more so…at least equally so.
But mother is safe, as is she and her…and my gender identity travels…remains cloudy, shifts like sand under my own feet. Shall I make a fuss to have to change the rules next year? Next month? Tomorrow? so they are immobile…stumbling…and so am I. Not wanting to make a fuss or alienate the few folks I have left. I cringe and sigh and leave it alone. Because it must be confusing, hard to remember. It must be so much. Difficult for them. See how well I am able to convince myself that I am not worthy of a simple word? A shift?
how can they imagine that I am not a woman, if I am not able to tuck away and hide those secondary sex characteristics that for so many, mean woman?
I appease myself with promises and whispered, at least they tried.
And some do try. Some succeed. Most don’t bother though, or pay the most minimal token gestures of “well at least I’m trying, but I don’t really get her. Why can’t she just be butch, it’s the same I think, but whatever. She’s always been kinda off”
Even when I say nothing, even when I shrug and look away, purse my lips and sigh, even when I make a half hearted protest. “I really am not a girl ya know.” *haha awkward non threatening laugh*, inside my heart hurts because I am not a woman
And I am not the only one.
Masculine, non-binary, agender, demigender…just the start of a long list of folks who do not identify as female or women who do choose to nurse and/or gestate their tiny humans.
It’s not even that shocking, just a thing we do, if we want or need to, as parents in this big ole world, regardless of your perception of, or the reality of our gender performance and identities
I exist, my struggles, my tribulations, my experience is real.
As are the lives and experiences of all transgender and gender diverse folks who have chosen parenthood.
* I do not speak for anyone but myself, the lived experiences of transgender and gender diverse humans are as varied and expansive as the night sky.