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Published on June 16th, 2017 | from CAMH

Reflecting on my first Father’s Day

by Dr. Alex Abramovich, Independent Scientist with the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at CAMH

This is my first time celebrating Father’s Day as a dad. And my eighth since coming out as a trans man.

When my wife Caroline was pregnant, I struggled with what it meant to be a father, how I would fit into that position. I just saw myself as a parent with an immense amount of love to offer — a role that did not feel gendered.

Caroline, Alex and baby Noah.

Our beautiful baby, Noah, was born on August 6. The first time I met her, those worries disappeared. I felt as though I had loved her my entire life. I also immediately felt a great sense of pride in calling myself her papa.

I’m still working out what it means to be a dad and how having lived a good part of my life as a woman has impacted the way that I parent and the way that I have yet to parent.

As a trans parent, I do my best not to reinforce or perpetuate cisnormative and heteronormative language and ideas; to create a household free of gender prejudices. I know there are so many ways people express themselves, and I want Noah to feel safe exploring who she is.

I’ve become hyperaware of gender socialization and the problematic ways that our society constantly pushes cisnormative and heteronormative language and beliefs onto children from the moment they are born. For instance, I’ve noticed major discrepancies in the messages that are in the girl’s section versus the boy’s section in almost every store. Messages like “I rule the world”, “Strong like daddy” and “Girls dig me” in the boy’s section and “Born to wear diamonds”, “Pretty like mommy” and “I only date heroes” in the girl’s section.

Noah is growing up in a society where on the one hand we are taught that the most courageous act is to be your authentic self, but on the other, people sometimes react with anger when faced with authenticity.

Coming out as LGBTQ is still a leading cause of youth homelessness. I’ve worked with far too many young people who faced family rejection after coming out. As a new parent, I am committed more than ever to supporting youth and their families.

One lesson I can pass on: being a father is not about being assigned male at birth. It’s about caring and loving your child unconditionally. I believe that we can raise our children to be strong, confident adults by encouraging them to be their true authentic selves.

Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are incredibly gendered and so many parents are left out, erased and not recognized because they don’t fit neatly into those categories. So, happy Father’s Day to all the queer, non-binary and transmasculine parents and dads who still fight just to be acknowledged for who they are.

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