This post was written by Stephen; he lives in Portland with his family where he works as a parent and a nanny. You can read more about his journey to fatherhood at his blog, papa bear.
I have been asked to write about what it means to me to be a father. Or more specifically, what it means to be a transgender father. I am a father who carried you for nine months in my body, who labored with you for 22 hours, and at the end of a very long day–with Daddy waiting to catch you– who gave birth to you. Right now you don’t know that most dads don’t get to carry a baby, right now you don’t know that some people think there is a right and a wrong way to build a family, right now you don’t know anything except that you have a Daddy and a Papa who love you more than anyone else in this world.
Before you were born we talked a lot about how we were going to make a family, and we considered all our options but the one that felt most right for us was the path that ultimately led us to you. I was worried about so many things; how we would be treated by our community, how we would be treated by doctors, and if you would be accepted when you were born. Most of all I wondered if I was strong enough to be a man and be pregnant. But we wanted you so much that we took a leap of faith. I whispered a wish and a prayer to you; that if you were ready, then so was I.
I want you to know that I haven’t always been happy with my body and I have had a difficult time loving myself. But something changed when you began to grow. Suddenly my body was capable of doing something incredible, something important and wonderful. Pregnancy wasn’t always easy, or comfortable, but I would do it all over again in a heart beat to get to have you. I am so proud of how my body knew what to do to keep you safe and healthy, how it held you until you were ready to be born, and how it felt the very last moments before you came into this world.
What I can see now, because of you, is that it is a gift to be who I am- to be transgender. It may seem funny to some people that I am a man who also wanted to be pregnant, it may seem like it would have made more sense to not transition and just have a baby- but I was never meant to be your mother, I was only ever meant to be your Papa. I am sure of that more than ever when you look at me with a big smile, cuddle your head into my chest and whisper to me, “Papa, papa.”
I know that as you get older you may have questions about our family and the way that it is different than other families, but we will show you that all families are similar in ways and different in ways. We will teach you that there are many different ways to be a family and make a family. You will see that reflected in the community you grow up in. You will know that we believe that everyone should get to choose what is right and best for themselves when it comes to how and when and if they want to build a family.
But what we want you to know most of all, sweet Birdie, is that you were brought into this world with so much intention and love. Whoever you are, whatever you do, you have our unwavering and unconditional love, support and acceptance. I look at you and I feel so grateful to be who I am, because I helped to make you, and now that you are here I can not imagine a world without you as my center.