Being a mother was my dream ever since I was a child. I never expected myself to hate being referred as one.
My biggest regret is not coming out before I had kids. Although I might have had issues with my care, being able to choose and normalize how I want my children to see me back then would have been a hell of a lot easier than changing things now. I'm stuck with the title -- "mom." I cannot take that away from my children, nor do I want to. In my home, from their mouths, the word means love. It's a title I share with millions and in their eyes it represents only me. I don't take that lightly.
But I hate it from you.
You, the person reading this. You, the lady at the grocery store. You, the teachers at the school. You, the other parents, the blogger in the internet comments, the person I'm speaking to on Facebook, the people that wherever I go, whoever I meet, refer to me as mom.
- First of all, and most importantly, that's what my kids call me. I'm guessing they will always "out" me no matter what at stage in my transition I'm in with that.
- Secondly, at this point in my life I really look like a (cross dressed with short hair) woman. Fair enough to read me as one, see me with kids and make assumptions.
- Thirdly, I tend to hang out in women's spaces -- I'm the primary caregiver and a blogger and I do find comfort in the mommy blogs, in the parenting groups mostly occupied by women, in those types of online spaces. Although my profiles online are all male, simply by having a husband and 5 kids people make assumptions -- and I mean I did give birth to them all, so I understand where those are coming from.
I do see myself as their mother. Or at least in the sense that I gave birth to them and love them like any mother or father should. I really don't see a huge difference between a mom or dad when it comes to most things. What I dislike about the title is what it implies about me to other people. First and mainly, it implies that I'm a woman. Then there's the fact that mom represents an identity that I have never felt applied to me or have wanted to be part of. Third, it honestly hurts my feelings that (especially online) people make assumptions about me when they have nothing but a name or worse a heavily male gendered Facebook profile. The fact that many people in the "know" still see me as a "mom" instead of "parent" or "dad" gets me down a lot. It's misgendering and often contributes to dysphoria.
I would love to be dad, and I do have some friends who call me that. It makes me heart skip a beat and my eyes tear up -- maybe it's novelty, but even so -- every time it makes me happy. The trouble is, I can't take that away from my husband. My children already have a dad and I really respect that as his title and role. It's a complicated situation, and this echoes my statement that I wish I had done this before having kids. I would have chosen something else.
So what am I asking?
Please think of me differently. Refer to me as a parent. I like dad better and if you thought of me the same as you thought of other "dads" that would bring me more happiness than you can imagine. If you're ever unsure about something, ask me. I like caring questions like that. Don't assume that we are alike or that I'm part of the "mommy" community. Use male pronouns for me.
Just please don't call me mom.
Kal Ross is a LGBT blogger who writes about his experience being transgender, transitioning with 5 small children, parenting, frugal living and minimalism. This article originally appeared on Small Town Nerds.