Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Father’s Day in TGirl World! Interviewing Crossdressing Fathers.

I always feel a little off balance. Do you? For most of us who lead an unconventional or non-traditional lifestyle, balance is always an issue. And it ain’t easy. You always feel as though you have forces pulling you in different directions.

When you’re transgendered, it just gets that much harder. Whether you’re a closeted CD who’s never been out or you’re an out-and-about t-girl who has come out to everyone in their lives, finding balance can be the key element to your happiness. Tgirls devote a lot of time and energy trying to either keep their secret or, if their secret is out, to navigate that delicate balance between their two worlds. (I tell a lot of my friends, I don’t just lead a busy life, I lead two busy lives!) We often have to strike compromises with our girlfriends (or boyfriends) or wives. But the situation gets much more complicated when kids are involved.

A lot of us struggle with the different facets of our male lives. Now that we’re CD’s, what exactly is our role as husbands or boyfriends? Has it changed? Must it change? That’s something we have to work out with our significant others. And, as we all know, that discussion doesn’t always go well.

But the one relationship that most cd/tv girls aren’t willing to compromise on is their role as a father. Whether our children are grown or still in diapers, we, as fathers, feel certain responsibilities. We play a role in our families that – no matter how many sexy lingerie sets we have in our closet -- we’re probably not willing to give up.

In my situation – and in the spirit of full disclosure -- I had a stepson going through his teens as CiCi was becoming more active. In order to keep some sense of calm in an already tense household, I put CiCi in mothballs for almost 2 full years. I threw out all of my dresses for men, I cut my online time considerably, and I devoted myself to my family. As far as I know, my stepson – now out of the house and a college graduate – still knows nothing of my tv/cd life.

But with Father’s Day right around the corner, I wondered how some of my friends are coping with this issue. How are other girls striking the balance between being a family man and club-going, tgirl hottie? I did a few informal interviews with tgirls with children that are in different stages of childhood. Maggie (I’m using fake names here) is 35, married, and has a 4 year old daughter at home. Suzie is 55, married for the second time, and has two grown daughters by her first marriage and one 7 year old daughter with her current wife. And lastly, there is Charlotte, a 57 year old tgirl who is now divorced with two grown daughters. Charlotte’s case was particularly interesting to me because she has come out about crossdressing to both of her daughters.

I began by asking all of the girls about their lives as fathers. Interestingly, none of these tgirls have had sons! All had daughters. I asked if them what kind of Dads they are? Pushovers? Playful? Disciplinarian? Detached?

Maggie: My wife jokes that she has two kids. Not exactly sure which one is more mature at this point. It could go either way most days. I will admit, I am one of those over protective fathers and I think I always will be. It’s just in my nature. I worry and I don’t want anything bad to happen. My wife laughs at me for it, but that is the role of a parent -- to protect their children.
Suzie: I am rather strict when I have to. But also enjoy having fun. I was never a fan of the "baby" stage, but I like them when they get older. When they can do more things. With my 7 year old, I play Chinese Checkers, and I enjoy going bike riding and swimming with her.
Charlotte: My kids always thought of me as the athlete of the family and also the real outdoorsman. I always enjoyed being Dad and having the kids around… coaching, playing golf, Frisbee, whatever… I liked playing with the kids and doing stuff with them. My kids were super easy. I really only had to discipline them a bit.

I asked them to describe their daughters – and if, as a tgirl dad, they felt any special connection through their more feminine side?

Maggie: She has the most addictive laugh I have ever heard. It comes right from her belly, and when she is laughing and giggling, you just can’t help yourself and find yourself joining in. She is perfect, just like her Dad. LOL.
Suzie: She does resemble me more than her mother! Certainly with the clothes, look, style, etc. She is such a happy, good kid: outgoing, funny, smart, pretty, overly talkative. She is very girly.
Charlotte: I would say I connected with the kids as any Dad would. Not any more empathy for their femme needs then any other Dad.

All three fathers spoke about the pressures of leading this double life as a t-girl

Charlotte: Sometimes I am very ashamed of myself. I sometimes feel this has been a very self-absorbed journey. And I don’t think I should be this self-absorbed. Actually, it was easy for me to coach at 4 – 7 pm and then dress up later that night. It was certainly frustrating trying to find time for it [dressing]. I would sheetrock a room and do it for a month, just to justify a weekend going out as Charlotte. But, finally after 10 years or so of trying to justify my dressing by working my ass off, I decided I need to be myself
Maggie: I knew that having children would definitely change the rules – limiting my dressing and all that. But at the end of the day you have to look what is most important to you. It’s a personal choice.
Suzie: My current wife knows and is accepting. Our agreement is that I dress and go out when she is out of town or when I travel. We have also agreed to keep it away from the family.

I asked if any of the children had any inkling that their Dad was a cross dresser. Or if they would ever tell their children about their “secret” lives. (Please note: in all three of these cases, the wife/mother involved does know about the Dad’s cross dressing).

Suzie: I don't think any of them know. I have always been committed to keeping it away from them. Unless, I was to ever go full time -- which is highly unlikely today. My oldest two did see me dressed as a woman for Halloween back in the 80's. They thought it was funny. My oldest one said my legs looked better than their mother's! That really pissed Mom off.
Maggie: I hope she [my daughter] never finds out. And I know it will come to a point in my life where I will have to give up the dressing, either completely or partially, to keep it from her. Personally, I don’t see the advantage in telling her about my alternative lifestyle.
Suzie: I can see where someone going thru transition would have to tell everyone involved in their life. As for me, I have no intention of ever telling them [my daughters]. However, if it ever came up, I would be completely honest and open about my fem side and how important it is to me.
Maggie: At this point in my life I can’t see myself ever telling her, but you never know. Life changes and evolves. Relationships form in ways you can’t predict. Basically what I am trying to say is that I want what’s best for my daughter, and not knowing is probably the best thing in my opinion. I know that it means keeping something from my family, but sometimes secrets are needed. I’m sure many of your readers can attest to that.
Suzie: I guess if any of them ever do [find out about me], it will be something I face at that time.
Charlotte: We decided that telling them when they were in high school was not a good thing. They have too many things going on in their lives to burden them with my stuff. So we waited. And it was not hard to wait, but I wanted to be honest with them. So it was kinda hard not to tell.

However, eventually, Charlotte did tell her daughters:

Charlotte: We just sat them down and told them face-to-face together. I was lucky, my wife supported me. While she wasn’t into it – and not excited about it -- she was supportive. They hugged me and told me they loved me. I cried some, but not too much.
Charlotte: When we told them… one was out of high school and the other was still a senior. BUT… the one who was a senior was gay… and she had TG friends. So she already was clued in. She understood it immediately. My older one was very supportive and loving, but even now, she does not choose to see that side of me. (But she makes no judgment and is 100% behind my decisions.)

I asked Charlotte what advice she would give to other parents who are considering telling their kids.

Charlotte: Wait until they are out of high school. They have too many things to deal with. They don’t need to deal with your shit. I mean you signed up to be their dad. Deal with it.

I asked Maggie and Suzie – hypothetically – what would happen if they were ever presented with an ultimatum. What would they do if their wives threatened them with divorce or to take their child away? And I got two very different answers:

Maggie: I think that’s a no brainer. Family must ALWAYS come first. You’re a father and husband first, and a sexy dresser second. Don’t get me wrong. It would be very difficult, but then again, most big decisions in life are. And neglecting Maggie would be like shutting out a piece of my life. She is me and I am her.
Suzie: The answer will be no way. Regardless of what happens. I'm prepared emotionally for that. I will not stop being Suzie. My attitude would be that it is "her" problem… my wife’s problem… not mine.

In closing, I asked each Dad to complete the following sentence: The best part about being a father is…

Charlotte: Having my kids hug me.
Suzie: Hearing a child's laughter and telling you, "I love you Daddy!"
Maggie: When they say that they love you, it’s life altering. Nothing else even comes close!

So here’s to all the t-dads out there – struggling to keep some sense of balance between their personal identity, their transgendered nature, and their role as a loving, devoted father. It isn’t easy. (What part of t-life is?) But, as any of these girls would attest, the rewards of fatherhood, well… they last a lifetime.

Suzie: I was there for all my daughters’ births. I chose to not know the sex before birth, therefore, I looked forward with excitement to their births and to hold this precious miracle. Each birth was equally exciting. Today, with the older girls, it is neat to see them go off on their own and establish their own lives. You just hope you gave them the ability to make smart decisions.
Maggie: Years from now? I want her to smile when she thinks about me. If she can do that on her own accord, then I know I have done something right in my life. If she is proud of me, and not ashamed, then my life will be fulfilled. I don’t want to be a failure as a father.
Charlotte: I am proud of the kids and proud of the way we raised them. Probably my biggest accomplishment -- but I would think any parent thinks that.

At the beginning of this article, I wrote about how my step-son never had to face the image of his step-dad in a dress. (Or, in my case, a latex catsuit.) However, he was often confronted (unfortunately) with my own feelings of frustration and bitterness. Emotions that I tried to repress, but that often spilled out in times of stress. It’s hard for me to admit this now, but I just wasn’t all that happy back then. And there’s no way that he and my wife weren’t affected by that.

If I had to do it all over again, I still don’t know if I’d tell my son about CiCi. As we’ve seen in these brief interviews, that’s a pretty tough decision for any parent. But I do know this. I really wish my son had had the chance to live with the happy me that I am today – rather than the unhappy me that he lived with all those years. That is definitely one thing I wish I could change.

In closing, I’d love to hear from more of you tgirl fathers out there. So please feel free to use the comments section below to share your experiences – good and bad -- as a tgirl dad. And, of course, Happy Father’s Day to all!

Be safe. Be smart. Be sexy.


Robyn said...

I've known that I should have been born female since I was a little kid. Even before I knew what I was feeling, I've felt that. I'm currently 27 years old, and unfortunately, I still haven't realized my dreams of getting a sex change. Now having a 4 year old step son, as well as a 6-month old biological son, my plans have not changed a bit.

I understand that there will be things my children will have to deal with in life, having a parent like me, but open-mindedness has NEVER been easy, for anyone. I've fought this fight all my life, and my wife and I have agreed to teach our kids how to fight this fight as well. After all, the more people there are "copping out" to the pressures the rest of this disapproving world put on us, the longer it's going to take for ANY of us to truly be able to simply be who we are in our lives.

Lidiya A said...

I struggled with the idea of telling my kids. It wasn't easy telling my wife who was against the idea from the start and fought with me about it every step of the way. I did my best to explain to my five kids that daddy was different and finally that daddy was transitioning but my kids just didn't seem to understand. I did, while they were living with me dress to a point and they just seemed to live with it. I still feel it is better for them to be told about it than to wait until they are older and then it becomes that much more of a shock. In the end, both my soon to be ex-wife and I decided it was better for them to grow up away from it. It's sad but I will always be there dad even if I'm a woman.

CiCi said...

Robyn and Lidiya,
Congratulations to both of you on having the courage to face your trangendered nature head on and honestly. altho i'm sorry, Lidiya, that you and your wife have decided to raise your kids "away from it." you sound like a very devoted father, so i'm sure this will be difficult for you. please -- to both of you -- please feel free to stop back here as time goes on, and let us know how your children are doing. it's a topic that's near and dear to the hearts of many of our readers.


CherylAnne said...

Thanks for letting me know this was up to read. I identified with your interviewees as they have or had kids my age. You can't burden them with, "Kids, dad is..." when they are already struggling with so much crap of their own as teens. All I can say to you is that your wish your stepson could have grown up with the happy you of today made cry. I get that...

Take care and thanks for what you do as always...this time, although your articles always hit home in some way, this was special. Huge thanks and thanks for sharing yourself, I hope it helped you some, girl!

Brice W said...

I didn't come to terms with my transgender issues until I was 29. I have two children, a 5 year old son and a 2 year old daughter. My wife wants nothing to do with my dressing and cannot fathom the idea of me going full time or transitioning. But those ultimately are my goals. Our views differ on whether the kids should know, I favor telling them early and she would have them never know until college. And so for now at least the choice to tell them or not is made for me. I have to dress outside the house so they never face me female form. I find this very difficult because it feels as though I am lying to them.

It will all go very slowly for me, as first I will need to convince my wife that this is not some kind of bedroom fetish for me. Once that battle is won I believe I can come out.

Gina said...

I can relate to telling your kids or not, It's not easy thing. it's kinda like going out to the make up area, in a store for the first time trying to pick something out for yourself, well atleast thats the way i felt. I told my oldest daughter, it's funny because she told me that she knew something wasn't right but couldn't put her finger on it. i'm still sitting there scared of her reaction. but it wasn't that bad..she had alot of questions though.things like will i have surgery to become a woman, am i gonna live my life this way who else knows or don't.and why do i do it? the list goes on. she will always have questions because she don't fully understand, but she ask because she is trying to understand she told me, she still loves me. if i am happy thats all matters to her.I was so relieved. she ask me for make up tips which make me happy. i haven't told my son her brother.which was one of her questions, i know this isn't going to be as easy. but i figure instead of worring about getting caught i think i fell better atleast letting the ones who are closest to me know.theres always a hurdle in life you have to jump over, some are easy some are tuff..I debated a long time to tell anyone, but i have to tell you, it fell like a weight has been lifted...wish me luck on my son and you all have a good day!

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