The children of transgender people will have to struggle with the knowledge that their mother is also their father, or vice versa. It hurts them. I know, because I was that child, too.
In 1960, when Random House Books first published P.D. Eastman’s classic children’s book “Are You My Mother?,” no one would have guessed that a generation later children might be asking that very question of their fathers.
Imagine Darth Vader surprising Luke Skywalker with the earth-shattering news that he’s the young man’s father—and mother. Sounds funny, maybe even impossible, doesn’t it? But it is possible, and no laughing matter.
Modern science and medicine, ever exploring new possibilities, rarely stop these days to consider the ethical implications of zooming down those uncharted paths. Once upon a time, we generally weighed questions of scientific possibility on ethical scales before proceeding. Not so much these days.
Consider the Beatie Children
In 2002, doctors performed sex-reassignment surgery on Tracy Lehuanani LaGondino, physically molding the young lady into a resemblance of a young man, Thomas Beatie. Beatie chose to keep her female reproductive organs. In 2008, Beatie became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter. Beatie later gave birth two more times, to sons.
In 2012, Beatie filed for and was granted a divorce from her bodybuilder wife, whom she claimed had physically abused her. Recently, Beatie married her kids’ preschool teacher. How are the three Beatie children faring through all this turmoil? It seems that few outside the little family know the answer to that question.
Since I grew up with a transgender father, however, I have a pretty good idea. Based on the difficulties I endured and the struggles I saw in my siblings, I suspect the answer is that the Beatie children are not doing well. I suspect they’re confused, sad, sometimes resentful, and sometimes fearful.
Beatie’s children—and, increasingly, more like them—will have to struggle with the knowledge that their mother is also their father, or vice versa. If the terminology alone is confusing for adults to pin down, imagine what day-to-day life is like for the kids.
What Is in the Child’s Best Interests?
Prior to the mid-twentieth century most children were raised by both a mother and a father. That was the natural order—God’s design. That was how most people saw it, and, generally, the arrangement suited society well. Divorce was relatively rare, and when single-parenting occurred, it was more likely due to the death of a parent. These days, divorce or absentee fathers are more likely to be the causes of single-parent homes.