Serving Southern California’s South Asian LGBT*Q community since 1997
Father of a Hindu, trans man
As parents, you always wish the very best for your children. I am no exception and 27 years ago when our daughter was born, we felt blessed that we had both a son and a daughter. Although we treated both children the same; caring, providing and nurturing for both the same way – we realized that they brought us joy and satisfaction in their own sweet distinct ways.
Our daughter grew up quickly and before I realized it, she was going from middle to high school and developing a mature, confident and assertive personality of her own. There were signs of something missing for her and as a father I blamed myself for my inability to reach her and understand whatever was bothering her. And before long, our daughter was ready to go to college. She was a talented kid who worked hard, very creative and quite athletic as well. She got admissions in schools close to our home as well as schools requiring at least a four to six hour plane ride. She insisted on going to a college far away from home and despite my wife’s apprehensions, I supported my daughter’s decision and wanted her to have the college experience she felt that was best for her. So, just in a span of 18 years, our lovely angel had left home for higher education.
Although I had poor communication with my daughter, the last thing on my mind was that she felt something different about herself. It was therefore like a bolt from the blue when we received a note from our daughter stating that she was a lesbian and interested in seeing girls. And very shortly thereafter, she told us that she felt more like a man than a woman and she was a man trapped in a woman’s body.
My wife and I were shocked by these turn of events and unclear as to how to proceed. Very few times in our lives, we had encountered multiple opposing emotions all at the same time! The initial reaction was one of sadness- for our daughter and the suffering she was going through. It was quickly replaced by anger – we had done little to deserve this and angry that our own daughter did not trust us enough to help her deal with the problem. We were also angry that our daughter was making decisions on her own and absolutely shunned us from letting us reflect and provide counsel. We were frightened about the reactions of family and friends – that we had failed as parents and become a target of ridicule and shame. And we were also concerned that our daughter wanted to undergo surgery and become a male. The longer term health implications of both surgery and hormonal therapy, the difficulties a transgender person would encounter in both professional and social life and our inability to comprehend the forces within our daughter’s body that were directing her to act in a way we related to as normal – all of these considerations bothered us and made us feel both inadequate and incompetent as parents. There was no one else to turn to for answers but just my wife and myself; and all our attempts to reach our daughter came across like we were trying to convince her to be a woman and not change.
It was also awkward that our daughter had communicated to everyone except our relatives in our age group and above about her feelings regarding her gender identity. My spouse was quite concerned about the root cause of this outcome, trying to figure out if anyone in our family had such an issue.
After multiple dialogs, feelings of anger, frustration and concern, I came to the conclusion that the choice we had as parents was to be there for our child, a son now instead of the daughter we thought we had. It was not going to be an easy transition but one we had to work towards so that our child had the support he needed to thrive in society and could count on us much like the daughter we had nurtured over the years. My wife put aside her own emotions and broke the news to friends and relatives, all of whom were very supportive of us and related to our son with the same love and affection as they had prior to the gender transition. It has been a difficult journey but we now accept our son as a part of our family, just as we did before. Very importantly, we have realized that our son is the same intelligent, compassionate and caring person we brought up and needs our love and support to thrive. It is less about us or our views on societal and social norms and more about our son feeling comfortable in his skin. We have lost our daughter but we have gained a son and we certainly do not want to lose him. We want him to succeed and participate in making the world a better place to the best of his ability. We will always be there with him.