Gay Dad Life

A Gay Dad Shares His Experiences Raising a Trans Son on Latest Episode of Daddy Square

Author David Strah sat down with the Daddy Squared guys to talk about fatherhood, his book, and experiences raising a trans son

Here's a fact: gay parents are much more attentive to their kids' gender expressions than heterosexual parents. Just from the nature of growing up different, sometimes in an unwelcoming environment, we don't want our kids to suffer the emotional pain that we went through.

This is a partial explanation for an amazing growing phenomenon, where gay couples step forward and adopt transgender youth who were thrown out of their homes. In this episode of Daddy Squared we brought on David Strah, a family therapist from Los Angeles who specializes in LGBTQ issues. David is also a father of a transgender boy, and shares from his own personal experience.



"It's sort of a myth that trans people or trans kids come out and say 'this is the way I am' at age 2," David explains. "There are normally a few things that happen or that show up, and sometimes it means that they are going to be trans and sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes it means that they're going to be somewhere in the middle. I think it's about educating ourselves, about being sensitive, about creating a household that's trans friendly, talking about things, really getting in front of the issues, talking about the gender spectrum – all the differences, and how it is a spectrum and you don't have to be one way or the other. You can be somewhere in between or you can lean towards being a boy or lean towards being a girl and then another day you can decide to do something different."

David thinks it's really important to listen to our kids and if they're saying something very clearly, to really respond to that and cooperate with them.

"I think that when my younger son, when he was a girl, probably at around 5 or 6, he definitely wanted to wear boys underwear, briefs," David shares. "So we went out to the Gap and bought boys' briefs and we were absolutely fine with that. We didn't really know what it meant but we felt that he was directing that and that's something he wanted to do so we did it, and at that time, to be perfectly honest, we thought, well, he's got two dads and a big brother so he probably wants to wear underwear like he sees on other people in his family.

"There was another time, around Rosh Hashanah, and she needed a new dress. She absolutely refused to wear a dress, she wanted a suit, so we said okay, and went to J. Crew and bought a suit and we said 'but you have to wear a flower on the lapelle - which was kinda silly in retrospect on our part—but that was a compromise, she was very happy and she looked very chic."

"There were also about two years, probably around 9-10, he only wanted to wear board shorts and tank tops to school. I thought that was a little odd, my husband at the time was in fashion, but we went with it. And then a little bit older, around 12, she went to summer camp and then we saw a real shift all of a sudden. She wanted really feminine clothes. She wanted bikinis and clothes from brands that we never heard of. I think she was dealing with the peer pressure at camp at that time so we sent her a bunch of stuff, and for years she was very feminine, she wanted her hair blown out, had her nails done every other week, and then it was kind of like a switch that went on at age 14 and she said 'I think I'm a boy and I wanna get my hair cut,' and so we said ok."

David says that he saw a lot of male energy in his child, and thought she maybe would be a lesbian, and that he and his husband were really surprised when their kid said he was trans. "I have really only recently come to the realization that our children are really not here to fulfill our own narcissistic needs," David says, "and that's really hard."

"As a parent, I will tell you honestly it was really difficult [for us] and we really did some soul searching. As a clinician, I think it's really important to have those conversations and if it's directed by the child then you have to go with it."

David Strah

Marriage and family therapist David Strah has two masters degrees in psychology: a degree in Clinical Psychology (Antioch University, Los Angeles) with a specialization in LGBT Affirmative Therapy, and a degree in Spiritual Psychology (University of Santa Monica).

His areas of expertise include: ADHD, addiction, gender spectrum, LGB, relationship issues, self esteem, spirituality, stress, transgender and more.

David Strah is the author of Gay Dads: A Celebration of Fatherhood. This critically acclaimed book features 24 gay-dad families throughout the United States and tells the stories of how they formed their families through adoption, foster care, surrogacy and co-parenting with women.

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News

Gay Dads Show Up at Boston Event to Drown Out Anti-Trans Protesters

When Trystan Reese found out protesters were planning to show up to an event in Boston he was presenting at, he put out a call to his community for help — and gay dads showed up.

A couple months ago, Trystan Reese, a gay, trans dad based in Portland, Oregon, took to Instagram to share a moving, if incredibly concerning, experience. Reese, who works with Family Equality Council, was speaking at an event in Boston, and learned before his appearance that a group of protesters were planning to attend.

"As a trans person, I was terrified to be targeted by anti-LGBTQ people and experienced genuine fear for my own safety," Trystan wrote. In response, he did what many LGBTQ people would do in a similar situation — reach out to his community in Boston, and ask for their support. "And they came," he wrote. But it wasn't just anyone within the LGBTQ community that came to his defense, he emphasized — "you know who came? Gay men. Gay dads, to be exact. They came, ready to block people from coming in, ready to call building security, ready to protect me so I could lead my event. They did it without question and without reward. They did it because it was the right thing to do."

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Gay Dad Life

"Daddy, Which Belly Did I Come From?"

How do gay dads talk to their kids about the women that helped bring them into the world?

When you tell your kids the story of how they came to be, is the woman who delivered them identified by a face and a name? That's a decision that every gay dad has to make when it comes to having kids through surrogacy or adoption. In this episode we explored two ways of keeping in touch with the birthmother (for adoptive kids) or the gestational surrogate (for IVF and surrogacy) as part of gay dads' children's birth story.Some adoptive parents choose to have an 'open adoption,' where the child gets to meet the birthmother. Parents who go through surrogacy sometimes keep in touch with the surrogate and have their kids meet her when they are old enough.

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Gay Dad Life

How Do Gay Dads Raise Kids in an Interfaith Household?

How do gay dads of different faiths choose to raise kids? The Daddy Squared guys tackle the issue in their latest episode.

How do you raise kids with dads from separate faith backgrounds? Interfaith relationships are not uncommon in the gay community, and with the 'gaybies' explosion, some couples choose to raise their kids with awareness of both partners' religious backgrounds. We spoke to Ferd and Brian, fathers, husbands, and founders of Gays With Kids about religion and faith, and building a home where both Christmas and Hannukah are celebrated, though with a clear understanding that Brian's passion to raise the kids Jewish strongly outweighs Ferd's interest in Catholicism in their home.



"We surely came by dads who have different faiths and traditions and they celebrate them both," explains Brian Rosenberg, who co-founded GaysWithKids.com with husband Ferd van Gameren, "the idea is that the children have a good understanding of the background of both religions and they will get to make their on decisions and choices when the are adults."

Having been together for almost three decades, Ferd and Brian started blending their holidays a long time ago. "We used to be more relaxed about how we spent them," Brian says. But since becoming dads, they are much more focused on celebrating holidays that hold special meaning for them. "We've been creating new traditions around these holidays that I hope will stay with our kids well into their adult lives."

Our conversation with Brian and Ferd sparked some thoughts about what kind of people, in general, find a partner with a different religious background. "When you are a single person looking for a partner and the religion is really, really important for you, I would imagine that you then primarily look for a partner in the pool of people who have the same religion as you," says Ferd.

We came out of the interview with a realization that men who marry men from other religious backgrounds are open to establish an interfaith household to begin with, just out of love and respect for their partner's heritage. Nevertheless, Brian emphasizes that religion and traditions should be something that an interfaith couple should discussed as part of the overall conversation and research prior to having kids.

"You need to talk about it upfront before you become dads [so you'll have a vision on the environment in which you raise your kids]. I think that so often in relationships, when they fall apart or where there are big challenges it's because of a lack of communication, and a subject like culture and traditions should definitely be discussed."

News

Indiana Court Says Couples Using Sperm Donors​ Can Both Be Listed on Birth Certificate — But Ruling Excludes Male Couples

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, a major victory for LGBTQ parents — but the Attorney General may appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, a US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from a lower court that said that both parents in a same-sex relationship are entitled to be listed on the birth certificate — previously, the state of Indiana had required the non-biological parent within a same-sex relationship using assisted reproductive technologies to adopt their child after the birth in order to get her or his name listed on the birth certificate, a lengthy and expensive process not required of straight couples in the same situation.

It's a double standard LGBTQ parents have long been subjected to in many states across the country. So this represent a major win. As reported by CNN, this ruling "takes a lot of weight off" the shoulders of LGBTQ parents, said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a lawyer representing one of the couples in the case. "They've been living as families and wondering if this was going to tear them apart."

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals deliberated the case, according to CNN, for more than two and a half years, which is one of the longest in the court's history.

However, because all the plaintiffs in the case involved female same-sex couples using sperm donors, the ruling left open the similar question of parenting rights with respect to male couples. Indiana's Attorney General, moreover, may also appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

We'll be following the case closely and be sure to keep you up to date. For more on this recent decision, read CNN's article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

As a Gay Dad, What's the Impact of Letting My Son Perform Drag?

Michael Duncan was excited when his 10-year-old son asked if he could perform in drag for charity — but he also felt fear and anxiety.

As LGBT parents, we have all lived through some sort of trauma in our lives. For many it is the rejection of our family, being bullied, or abuse. We learn to be vigilant of our surroundings and often are very cautious of who we trust. As adults, we start to become watchful of how much we share and we look for "red flags" around every corner.

So, what effect does this have on our children? Does it unintentionally cause us to be more jaded with our interactions involving others? For some the answer may be a resounding "no." But as we look deeper into the situation, we often find that through survival our interactions with others have changed and we may not even realize exactly how much we are projecting on those around us.

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Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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