Maternal Instinct: A Mother's Influence on Her Transgender Daughter

mother holding a hand of her...
mother holding a hand of her...

Short essays from six transgender women--about their mothers.

Mandi Hauwert (36)

More than she'll know, my mom, the heroine of this tale—saved me. Out of her tumultuous youth arose a vigorously confident woman, a perfect role model to a young transgender girl. Mom inspires me. Her empathy, grace, and creativity constitute the woman I've become—one she's proud of I hope.

The mother-daughter dynamic is still new for us. She's one of my biggest cheerleaders along this journey; supporting me in my dreams, ensuring I had my mommy when I was reborn. Without her—I don't know—I need her more than ever.

Mom—what a revelation your life has been for me; it is my feminist guidebook. Your unbelievable struggles, sacrifices, and acceptance—reflect the kind of person I want to be.

We feel your impact; it is substantial in your children's lives. Not only the ones to whom you gave life but to those you've given a reason to live. Stand proud, head up high, and breathe.

Mom—I love you. Happy Mother's Day.
[Cindy] [Mandi]

Rachel Sutter (72)

Mom had passed before I came out, but I'm sure she knew I was transgender. Although, at that time she probably only knew I wanted to act like a girl. At a young age (around 7?) while my dad worked on automobiles in the driveway, I would help mom in the kitchen.

She taught me needlepoint, crochet, and sewing. She let my hair grow out when I was 4 or 5. When her dad (German heritage) came to visit, he made her cut my hair, saying I looked like a girl (DUH!!!!).

Around the age of 11—through the youth development program 4H—our club made wigs with yarn. We all played musical instruments and did a skit dressed like girls. My mom helped me into one of her bras and dresses. As we were ready to leave, a few CIS girls came into our dressing room and thought we were girls (YEAH). After the performance, we took a bow and the audience gasped.

I wish I could have come out to her.

Ariel Erskine (40)

A Mermaid's Reflections on Her Mother:

Not once in my 18 years as a mother was I allowed a moment of recognition on Mother's Day. This year that changes, because until now I had not allowed the world to see my true self: a woman and mother of three, instead of the man and father I was expected to be. Looking forward, to celebrating my role as a mother, I can't help but reflect on mine.

My mother and I differ so much—how we like our living spaces, what we eat, or how we communicate; this sparks fiercely emotional arguments. We'll spend hours disagreeing on the smallest details. However, this amazing woman taught me how to be a strong independent woman, able to take care of herself while overcoming a patriarchal and sexist society.

She's always loved me for who I am: a hippie kid skipping school to read Kerouac, a punk kid in a noisy band, a struggling parent victim to her impulsive decisions and now a proud, queer trans-woman and mother of three. I can only hope to be half the mother she is, and that my kids will love me as much as I love her.
[Ariel/ Proud Mom]

Diva Berry (55)


Thank you so much for bringing me into this world on July 5th, 1961 at 7:30 a.m. Over the years, a lot has happened, and you have shown me that love is not summed up by how much money one has or their status in life.

I remember vividly, the words you told me when you first found out I was transgender. You said, "Be the best at whatever you do." Through my ups and downs, you were there. I know your life has been very challenging and I'm extremely grateful you didn't give up. The love you gave me when I was down, Lifted Me Up. When you saw my Life coming together, you encouraged me to go further!

Thank you so much for being such an inspiration to me. Life is so short, and I want to make sure to let you know how much I love you every day that passes!!!

I am proud to be the daughter of Betty Jean Jackson!
[Betty] [Diva]

Jessica Lynn (51)

Hey Mom, I'm writing you this quick little note to say, "Thank you." I could have never gotten anywhere without you. Yes, I know you gave birth to me, but you have been my Guiding Light and have been my biggest supporter in my life.

You are one of the strongest persons I have ever met in my entire life. I hope to be as strong as you as my journey continues; to become the very best person humanly possible. You have taught me to be true to myself, and I can never thank you enough to have been my biggest, hugest, supporter—I have battled some very difficult situations in my 51 years of life.

Mom, I truly, truly hope this is the best year of the rest of your life. You deserve absolutely nothing but happiness, and I just want you to know how much I absolutely, love you. I thank you to the very bottom of my heart for being the mother that you are and being my true, true inspiration.

Thank you, Mom, and I love you.

Kaiya Kramer (26)

To say that "my mom loves me" is an absolute privilege in the trans community. So many trans men and women have the experience of coming out to their mothers and never hearing those words again. That's why I'm grateful for every single mother's day. That's why I call my mom and talk with her every chance I get, even if there's nothing new to say. Because I have the great fortune of hearing, "Kaiya I love you" from my mother, I have tears of joy.

This is a statement on gratefulness and appreciation for what is going well in our lives. The constant struggle we all go through as human beings are overshadowed by our defeats, but when we finally embrace what is wonderful in our lives, we can truly move forward.

When I speak to her about my progress in life, she's happy for me in the simplest sense, because it makes me happy. There is a Taoist ideal in a mother's love. She loves me, just because. There's no deep reason behind it other than a universal compulsion. Her love resonates in me the same way I love her. Because I must.

I love you, mom.