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My Story | Family Emotions | Family Information | Children of Transsexuals

Children of CrossDressers/transsexuals

I am going to tell you from my own personal experience what it is like for me being the daughter of a transsexual dad. The choices my father made have molded me into a different person than the one I might have been. I look at people and situations in ways completely different from those who have not lived through the trauma I experienced. The family member, who has chosen to live as the other gender, leaves the other family members with their own life-sentence. Sometimes, it seems my dad “got off easy” as he's in the grave free of suffering while I am still here living in the world he created and marred with his choices. The pain does not go away; I just learn to live with it.

My dad loved me for what I was, not who I was. He tried to live his life through me. I remember once he signed me up for ballet lessons and then attended every class just to watch me with a certain look in his eye that said, “I wish I was you.” I used to hate him getting close to me or coming in the laundry room to find me folding my panties or bras. These experiences I had with my father have affected my ability to trust others and to build relationships with other men.

Part of my reason for sharing this is to speak to mothers. I want to help them gain insight into raising children in circumstances similar to mine. As a child, I took on the responsibility to protect my mom. I saw the amount of heartache my mom suffered and I did not want to add to it. I saw how betrayed she felt by this “other woman” whom my dad had created in his mind and body. Even though at the time I was angry that she didn't have the strength to leave my dad, I know now that she could not think about pursuing a relationship with another man---she did not want to be betrayed and hurt again.

Because of her heartache, I did not talk to my mom about how I was feeling. I kept quiet. This, in fact, only multiplied the hurt and confusion I was experiencing. I tried hard to shelter my younger siblings from the hurt and confusion I felt. In a sense, I was trying to live in another reality. In my mind, everyone came ahead of me. Later in life, my protectiveness has back fired more than once as my younger siblings have questioned the choices I made for them. One sibling continues to work through problems and struggles that started because of the choices I made as a child. Protecting my siblings came with a price tag.

I remember my father always having money to buy his “supplies” while we, the children, would be pouring water on our cereal or eating a raw potato for a snack.

Some children of transsexuals will turn to alcohol, drug, or food addictions to help them gain a sense of control and ability to forget-at least for a while. Other children will burn out emotionally. Bi-polar (manic depression) disorder, characterized by severe and recurrent depression, can result.

A mother needs to find her own support system. She is unwise to depend on her own child for her emotional needs. Such a strain can damage a child for life. My mother would tell me through the years, “I always knew it would just be you and me. I even told you as a baby.” As a child, I longed to have someone to care for me. Much of my childhood has been stolen by my dad's and mom's co-dependence on me. I still struggle with feelings of abandonment. The lists of damaging effects this situation can have on a child are endless.

What did I need as a child of a transsexual dad? I needed my mom's love and the love of others. I needed acceptance and I needed encouragement and a place to speak my feelings to someone who would listen. I needed to know that I was not the cause of my father's gender-identity-disorder. I could often feel my father's eyes on my body looking at me in ways I came to know meant, “I wish I looked like you.” Much of my childhood was spent pretending: pretending that dad would get ³fixed² and come home; pretending that I wasn't hurting deeply; pretending that I was more important than this choice my dad had made; pretending that tomorrow would be a better day, a day we'd be a normal family.

A child's need for a safe place to talk must be met. Mothers must support children in their need to talk; both with them, as the parent, AND with a trusted counselor rather than making the child feel that such talking is a betrayal of family trust. Children should not be the support system for their mom.

How do children of transsexuals view marriage? As a girl I was afraid of marriage. How can I trust my mate? Will he struggle just as my dad has struggled? How can I let a man touch my body when I have experienced the lusting looks and touches of my father? What right has I to wear make-up or try to be beautiful? How can I put on make-up without wondering how my dad puts his on? Would my dad like this color of mascara or lipstick? I was very careful to choose clothes that covered me well and were not at all provocative. I did not want to entice my dad. Looking attractive could be dangerous in my eyes. My father's choice has affected my pleasure in being born a woman.

My brother wrote the following to tell of his experience and heartache over our dad's choice.

“I wish he would have been a dad who cared about me.” He always seemed to be in a trap and unable to get out. It was like he didn't even exist. I felt sorry for him and at the same time, as his son, I was needy of just a plain old dad. I remember how he never sat at the table with me at breakfast and had a conversation. What he would say was, ‘Make sure you do the dishes when you're done because your mother's working!' You never asked, 'How are you doing, son?', or, 'What time is your baseball game?', or, 'Do you need help with your homework?' All I wanted was for him to come to my baseball games and be my dad. My dad was so involved in his own life and what he desired in his fantasy world that he forgot all about me. He could not seem to ever move past his own selfishness. It was always about him and what he needed! Regrettably, I went looking in the wrong places for what I missed at home. I was at drug parties becoming addicted to heroin and angel dust while my dad was only interested in indulging himself. My dad never truly knew who I was as his son. He believed the lies that others would tell him. I truly desired that he might taste hope and have the ability to see honestly what he had done to himself and to me. I know the taste of victory from my own experience of over-coming drug addiction. He just seemed to love himself and was totally self-centered and that's all that mattered. No one was before him; he was, and remained, first always.²

Sons of transsexuals have their set of problems. A son may struggle with proving to himself and others that he is, indeed, a man. Therefore, he may struggle showing emotions. A son may attempt to prove his manliness by playing sports, going to bars, and having casual sexual encounters or relationships. In his mind, he must prove to himself that he is nothing like his dad. One person shared with me that he chose to get into pornography only to prove to himself that he was not like dad.

Sons need to feel secure in who they are. They don't want anyone to look at them and say, “That's so and so's son!” They need to gain their independence and feel safe being a male. They may wonder why dad is so different and may view him as a weak male, treating him with a lack of respect.

I now have children of my own. I run the risk of placing excessive pressure on my boys to be boys and on my girls to be girls. I am likely to observe carefully when my children are playing to make sure they “play safe” and do not cross gender boundaries.

The world tries to tell me that all my instincts and beliefs are wrong. I stand on Deuteronomy 22:5. ³A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this². As you read this, you may find yourself questioning what you believe. You may feel lost in all the confusion.

I encourage you to hang on. This is not an easy road. One of the worst things people used to tell me was, ‘I know just how you feel.’ How could they? They had never experienced what I was living through. But, I do know and I care and I am someone to whom you can talk. I can pray for you and tell you of the assurance I have that Jesus is right here beside me, helping me, guiding me. Even as a very young child, I grabbed hold of God. I know that He is the source of my strength and endurance. You are not alone. There are other families suffering in the same ways as you. They don't all reach out for support. I ask you to have faith and take this, one day at a time, trusting Jesus to walk the route with you.

To date, I have never seen an accurate portrayal of this condition on a TV show. Never is the background or the early years of the transgendered person discussed. Never is the effect on the family truly portrayed. As you discover more about the family member who is changing their gender you may well uncover some of the sources of hurts that have brought them to this fork in the road. Other relatives may be able to fill in the blanks for you. But, to figure it out completely can be a daunting and overwhelming task. We always want to know, “WHY?”

In my own family, I found out that my dad was molested at the age of 3. My grandfather, loved sports and hunting. He was very controlling and also very busy running a successful private enterprise. My dad never received praise from his father or any signs of being loved as a son. My father was searching for love and acceptance. His early experiences spoke lies to him. He was deceived. We all have choices to make on a daily basis. I pray that the choices each of us makes will bring benefit and not harm.

It was my dad’s idea for me to take ballet class. He would stay to watch me take my ballet class. He was the only man there and I felt so uneasy about it. During ballet class my dad would just stare. It a was a look that was all too familiar to me. The look telling me how badly he desired to a girl. There was one time he actually had given me money. My dad gave me the money to buy a dress for Christmas for a family gathering. I was a teenager at this time. He wanted to see me in the dress and when I did it seemed like the all ready familiar look instantly came.

He was hateful towards me growing up like a Jekle and Dr. Hyde. I did not know which personality he would be from one day to the next. I could never do anything good enough for him. Even when it came to be weeding the garden he would find fault. When I washed dishes he would stand there and inspect to make sure all was clean. I would be embarrassed if he would be in the laundry room and I would be folding a pair of underwear or my bra would out on my pile of clothes. I remember when I started my menstruate period. When I walked in the front door both of my parents were sitting at the kitchen door side by side. My mom looked at me and said so you’re a woman now. I could have died. I looked at my dad as he looked at me with that glare he would give me. I thought to myself “yea isn’t that what you want. To this day I will look at men. If I notice any of the signs that sometime you can pick up on I help but think to myself I wonder if he wants to be a woman or if he dresses up in woman’s clothes.

My dad loved what I was more then who I was. He did not desire a daughter he desired my body and my life. When I hear of a father telling his daughter “she’s pretty” or you’re lucky you’re a girl I just want to pick the daughter up to silence her ears so she does not hear the words that will echo through out her life. Men are very selfish and self centered to say something like that to their daughters. No daughter should feel guilty to be a girl. When you know your dad struggles like this. The daughter is going to be uncomfortable around these statements. You look at your body at times and can’t help but think he wants look like this.

As a teenager I drew to songs. I desperately would listen for one that felt the way I felt and look for the inner person I was. You find yourself searching for yourself in songs, sermons talking among individuals. Desperately you want to find yourself separate from the image being portrayed in your heart and mind.