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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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."

Gay Dad Life

When Gay Dads Raise Girls

The latest episode of podcast Daddy Squared explores some of the unique issues that arise for gay men while raising daughters

Do hospitals really give seminars to gay dads on how to clean a vagina when they have a newborn girl? We had to check out this myth and other girl-related issues in a two-dad house hold. We brought on Eli and Ido, a NYC couple with two girls to discuss gay dads raising girls in the age of #girlpower and #metoo.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

How This Dad 'Redesigned' the Holidays After Coming Out of the Closet

Rick Clemons describes how he made the holidays work for him and his family again after coming out of the closet

What I'm about to describe to you, is something I am deeply ashamed of in hindsight. I was a jerk, still in a state of shock and confusion, and "in love" with a handsome Brit I'd only spent less than 24 hours with.

I was standing in the Ontario, California airport watching my wife walk with my two daughters to a different gate than mine. They were headed to my parents in the Napa Valley for Thanksgiving. I was headed to spend my Thanksgiving with the Brit in San Francisco. It was less than one month after I had come out of the closet and I was so caught up in my own freedom and new life that I didn't realize until everything went kaput with the Brit on New Year's Eve, that if I was ever going to manage the holidays with dignity and respect for me, my kids, and their Mom, I was going to have to kick myself in the pants and stop acting like a kid in the candy store when it came to men. Ok, nothing wrong with acting that way since I never got to date guys in high school and college because I was raised to believe – gay no way, was the way. But that's another article all together.

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What to Buy

Shop with a Purpose with Our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Want to find amazing gift ideas while *also* supporting LGBTQ-owned and allied businesses? Look no further than our 2019 holiday gift guide!

'Tis the season to show loved ones you care. And what better way to show you care, by also supported our LGBTQ+ community and allies whilst doing it! Shop (LGBTQ+) smart with these great suggestions below.

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Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Newly Out Gay Dad Feels 'Demoted' After Divorce

Cameron Call showed up to his first family Thanksgiving since coming out and getting a divorce — and struggles to find himself "stuck with the singles."

Cameron Call, who came out in summer 2019, has generously agreed to chronicle his coming out journey for Gays With Kids over the next several months — the highs, lows and everything in between. Read his first article here.

Denial is an interesting thing. It's easy to think you're potentially above it, avoiding it, assume it doesn't apply to you because you'd NEVER do that, or maybe you're just simply avoiding it altogether. After finally coming out, I liked to think that I was done denying anything from now on. But unfortunately that's not the case.

And this fact became very clear to me over Thanksgiving.

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Resources

New Report Details the 'Price of Parenthood' for LGBTQ People

A new report by the Family Equality Council takes a deep dive into the current state of cost for becoming a parent as an LGBTQ person

Parenthood is expensive. But parenthood while queer is still prohibitively costly for so many segments of the LGBTQ community interested in pursuing a family, according to a new repot by the Family Equality Council, titled, "Building LGBTQ+ Families: The Price of Parenthood."

Among the more interesting findings was this one: the cost of family planning is relatively similar for all LGBTQ people, regardless of income level. This shows "that the desire to have children exists regardless of financial security," the report's authors conclude.

Research for the report was conducted through an online survey of 500 LGBTQ adults over the age of 18, and was conducted between July 11-18, 2018. For comparison, the survey also included 1,004 adults who did not identify as LGBTQ.

Other interesting findings of the report include:

  • 29% of all LGBTQ+ respondents reported an annual household income under $25,000 compared to 22% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
  • 33% of black LGBTQ+ respondents, 32% of female-identified LGBTQ+ respondents, and 31% of trans/gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ respondents reported annual household incomes below $25,000.
  • Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, and error associated with question-wording and response options.29% of all LGBTQ+ respondents reported an annual household income under $25,000 compared to 22% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
  • 33% of black LGBTQ+ respondents, 32% of female-identified LGBTQ+ respondents, and 31% of trans/gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ respondents reported annual household incomes below $25,000.
  • Regardless of annual household income, 45-53% of LGBTQ+ millennials are planning to become parents for the first time or add another child to their family. Those making less than $25,000 a year are considering becoming parents at very similar rates as those making over $100,000.
  • Data from the Family Building Survey reveals that LGBTQ+ households making over $100,000 annually are considering the full range of paths to parenthood, from surrogacy and private adoption to foster care and IVF. The most popular options under consideration in this income bracket are private adoption (74% are considering), foster care (42%), and IVF or reciprocal IVF (21%). At the other end of the economic spectrum, for LGBTQ+ individuals in households making less than $25,000 annually, the most commonly considered paths to parenthood are intercourse (35% are considering), foster care (30%), and adoption (23%).

Fatherhood, the gay way

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