From Bilerico, a really sweet interview between a woman and her genderqueer partner (pictured left, photo from Bilerico), about their identity as “mommy” and being a genderqueer parent.
In honor of Mother’s Day, I asked her to talk with me about mothering from beyond the gender binary. In the course of our conversation, we touched on t-ball, chest surgery, field trips, and bathrooms.
Paige: Although people on the street tend to call you “sir,” around our house, you’re known as “mommy.” Can you talk about your identity and how motherhood figures in?
Koonce: My identity is trans-genderqueer-butch-dyke-mommy. “Mommy” is the word I used as a kid to describe the person who could take all the pain away or support me when I needed it…To say “I want my mommy” meant “I want a kind of omnipotent force to swoop down and take care of this problem.” So, when our son Waylon was born, I chose “Mommy” as a name because I loved the idea of being that force for someone in this crazy world of ours. When I found myself really attached to the idea of being someone’s mom, I realized that my gender identity was–at least for this time–landing squarely in the middle and I really love it that way. I love to hear the word “mommy” and to be called “mom” sometimes. But that has no real bearing as to how I feel in my body. For I am often not at home there.
Paige: You had top surgery when our son was 18 months old. It strikes me that there are still so few resources for transgender parents, and especially few stories about parents who transform their bodies without the goal of full transition. Can you talk about what it was like to get chest surgery as a mom?
Koonce: Well, getting chest surgery was way more anti-climactic than I anticipated. Waylon did not look up and say, “Are you my mommy?” There were no marked changes in the amount of “sirs” I receive. My psychotherapy clients did not decompensate without the breasts; they seem to have stayed latched on to the metaphorical breast. The biggest change has been the absence of my private bathroom struggle with the mirror. Tight t-shirts are now my friends and my happiness with my physical presentation has by far made me a happier mommy.
I love these examples of queering parenting, particularly introducing the gender bending aspects of it. Parenting, and reproduction are seen as the quintessential examples of heteronormativity and gendernormativity, but there are many parents who are reimagining these roles along with their gendered identities.
H/T to Tanya for the link