Family Values

Two Dads With a Difference—Neither of Us Was Born Male

We are transgendered men (female-to-male, or FTM). My boyfriend is the mother of my child.

Patrick (left) and Matt with their son Blake
photo: Timothy Archibald
Patrick (left) and Matt with their son Blake

Luckily, we found three men who loved us but didn't love children. A year and a half later, here we are with a son who shrieks with delight at the sight of the tortoise-shell cat, viciously bites Cheerios in half and then lets them slip out of his mouth on a waterfall of drool, and opens the kitchen cabinets to drag out the very largest pots, so he can drum on them with a grubby spoon. Our birth families and straight neighbors have been pretty sweet to us. The only people who've gotten upset are a handful of straight-identified homophobic FTMs online who started calling Matt by his girl name, because real men don't get pregnant. One of these bigots even said it would be better for our baby to be born dead than be raised by two people who are "confused about their gender."

Our large and loving chosen family, made up of gay men, lesbians, bisexual people, transgendered people, and straight allies, buffers us from this kind of hostility. We are also hearing from more and more FTMs who have had or want to have children. As Blake's dads, we have created a village to help us raise him.

I started taking testosterone a couple of months before Blake was born. While he learns how to grab things, click his tongue, hold his own bottle, and walk while somebody holds his hands, I am going through my own metamorphosis. My hips are smaller, my muscle mass is growing, and every day it seems like there's more hair on my face and body. My voice is deeper, and my sex drive has given me newfound empathy with the guys who solicit hookers for blow jobs. When I think that I can continue with this process—get chest surgery and pass as male—I feel happier than at any other point in my life. And when I think that something will stop me, I become very depressed.

Most of my dyke and fag friends have been enthusiastic about my change, and so far my therapy practice has not been shut down, nor have the writing assignments dried up. I don't mistake the small island of acceptance that we enjoy in ultraliberal San Francisco for real freedom or tolerance. Our family configuration is bound to be controversial even among lesbians and gay men, especially those who believe mainstreaming is the best strategy for securing our civil rights. But at least among some queer activists, those who are prepared to live in a genuinely diverse society free from gender tyranny or proscribed pleasures, we can enjoy a place at the table. And we do.

Patrick Califia-Rice is the author (under the name Pat Califia) of several volumes of queer theory and smut. His recent work includes Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism.

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