What Father's Day Means To A Transgender Parent
When a person transitions from male to female and is a parent, how is Father’s Day celebrated? WEKU’s Cheri Lawson talked with three transgender women who are also parents.
Lindsey Deaton came out as a transgender female a little more than seven years ago. She’s been married to Joan for 39 years. The couple had two daughters they raised in Wilder, Kentucky. Joci and Mary, are now 28 and 30 years old.
Deaton was assigned male at birth and for 56 years was known as Bruce.
At, first, she said she was uncomfortable with the celebration.
"I did not want it to be recognized. It was the last vestige of my masculinity and I didn’t want to have it," she said.
But, her view changed.
"I learned that Father’s Day is not about fathers. It’s about family and about children. So I came to recognize really the importance for my children and really who I am for them.”
Her transition involved many people she cared about and interacted with.
“When you transition, it’s not only the trans person who transitions. It’s all of our intimate relationships. So my spouse transitioned with me. And my children have transitioned with me and my parents have. And what it has afforded each one of them is the opportunity to have an experience of self which might not be the same had they not had a parent who did transition.”
According to officials with the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the U.S., 50 percent of LGBTQ Americans live in the 30 states that still lack statewide legal non-discrimination protections. Kentucky is one of those states lacking statewide legal non-discrimination protections. Ten cities in the bluegrass have adopted what is referred to as a Fairness Ordinance. Tuesday Meadows is chair of Lexington Fairness, an organization advocating for equality for the LGBTQ community.
“In Lexington, we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of our Fairness Ordinance passing in 1999. Louisville also passed a Fairness Ordinance in 1999. What the fairness ordinance states is we will have protection against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations,” she said.
Meadows stayed together with her wife until she died in 2015. This year Meadows will celebrate Father’s Day with her daughter who refers to Meadows as Mom.
“There are actually cards that say 'For My mom on Father’s Day'. We celebrate it like you would. And of course, she really is very very supportive,” she said.
LaRue County outside Hodgenville is home to Lacy Hudgins who transitioned from male to female a little over two years ago. Hudgins, President of Louisville- based Transwomen National, a support group for transgender people, said the county where she lives is not protected by the Fairness Ordinance.
She said it’s tough to transition especially in a Kentucky city without a Fairness Ordinance.
“I have met people from smaller towns who are literally terrified to come out because of where they live. And quite frankly they do fear for their livelihood, employment and often times fear for their own personal safety,” she said.
Hudgins said she’s lost relationships with many friends and several family members. She has one son, in his early 30’s, who loves and supports her and prefers to continue to call Hudgins Dad.
“Father’s Day is still a special day to me because of my son," she said.
Meadows, Hudgins, and Deaton will continue to be advocates for the transgender community.
As the transgender community becomes more visible, is it time to rethink the traditional parental roles?
Deaton doesn't think so.
As far as the definition of mother and father, she said. "Children define who we are as parents. And so however our children determines who to call us and express themselves towards us is really who we are," she said.
And, she said, transgender fathers have a chance to explore how they think of their position as a parent.
And that includes acknowledging their role as a dad and what it means to be dad.
"For some that might mean a gender exclusive role. I think we’re seeing in time it’s a gender inclusive role,” she said.
The Deaton’s will celebrate Father’s Day together.
(Lindsey Deaton's new podcast, Trans Vagina Dialogues is coming out soon. It's produced by Table Cakes Productions.)
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Twitter: @CheriLawson @889weku