In the UK, the government is currently holding an inquiry into reform of the Gender Recognition Act. The act was originally written for transsexuals, but there has been a lot of pressure to enable anyone who wants a Gender Recognition Certificate to apply to change their legal status. The original GRA gave some ability to the spouses of people who are transitioning to exit the marriage before a Gender Recognition Certificate was issued. This is sometimes called the ‘spousal veto’ or ‘spousal exit’ clause. Some explanation here:
As this affects the families of transitioners, it is essential that children of transitioners are heard on this issue. With massive help from a guest contributor, we made a submission to the inquiry on behalf of children of transitioners. I feel very proud that we were able to make this contribution, and that the needs of the children of transitioners will be recognised in this way by the UK government.
Details of the inquiry are available here:
Our contribution is here:
Here is the text in full:
GRA Inquiry Submission
I am a daughter of a male-to-female transgender person who transitioned medically and
surgically when I was a teenager. I run the blog http://www.childrenoftransitioners.org and in that
capacity have received many emails and comments from children of transitioners as well as
wives of transitioners on behalf of their children. The revelation for me was realising that
most children with fathers who transition have very similar experiences. The reason for this
is something that most sex researchers will tell you, that autogynephilia (the condition that
makes heterosexual men want to transition) is very often accompanied by narcissistic
personality disorder. Controlling behaviours, gaslighting, the need to punish women and
children for not complying with their need to appear as women and financial abuse are
patterns repeated again and again, and in this decade sadly experienced by an increasing
number of children. I wish to outline here ways in which we are affected by transgender
fathers and what the Government can do to help us.
Only this month, I was contacted by a daughter of a male-to-female transitioner, recounting
the behaviour of her father which included violence, sexual fetish, domestic abuse, stalking
and other criminal behaviour. She is unable to use mixed sex facilities at places like leisure
centres and public toilets because of the trauma she has experienced.
You will no doubt have heard from the wives of late-stage male transitioners for this
consultation, so I wanted to make you aware of the difficult position children of
transitioners, particularly daughters, have when your father is an autogynephile. As Dr Ray
Blanchard describes in his typography of transsexuals, after decades of research,
autogynephiles are men who often transition later in life and are heterosexual. Often they
have been in heterosexual marriages and have had children.
Their obsessive and sexual focus is on:
- Wishing to engage in stereotypically feminine behaviour
- Wanting to posssess female anatomic structures
- Wanting to dress in women’s apparel
- Wanting to exhibit female physiologic functions
Try to imagine, if you can, what is it like to have a father who believes that he is also
undergoing puberty and wants to share in yours in some way. A father who wants to go to bra fittings with you, wants to know about your periods, wants to try on make up with you, who wants to try on clothes with you, who wants to be your ‘mother’. A father who believes that being a woman means adopting the worst kinds of stereotypes about female submissive behaviour and clothing choices. Imagine being a young woman and aware far too early about sexual fetishishes. Whatever you think the reason is for transitioning, this is not an arbitrary concept to the children of fathers who transition – these are behaviours we experience.
Obviously there is only so much the government can do to support children in these
situations. However, in considering reform of the GRA please consider:
- We benefit when a spousal exit clause and annulment is available
It is vital that the government protect our mothers and enable them to leave their
marriages as easily as possible. For those of us from religious families in particular,
an annulment is preferable to divorce. As transitioners clearly entered into marriage
under false pretenses it is vital that our mothers are protected in these cases.
Protecting our mothers means protecting us too.
- We need impartial policing
It is vital that we have the support of the police in matters of domestic abuse. This
has become of increasing concern since police forces began openly supporting trans
charities such as Stonewall. Children of transitioners are worried that they will not
be heard of believed and are wary of approaching the police as they assume they will
be considered ‘transphobic’ for reporting their fathers. For example, adult children
may be stalked and threatened, but feel wary of approaching the police.
- We need support which includes us
When councils have explicitly adopted Stonewall training, local women’s domestic
abuse support groups must include males who identify as women or they will not
receive funding. For many children of transitioners, this inclusive policy excludes
them. Mothers and children are excluded by policies like this and in reality more are
excluded by these policies than included. We urge the government to reconsider this
stance by councils and support women-only services.
We also sometimes carry the trauma of our childhood experiences and need to be
able to request such things as single sex wards or a female physician without the
burden of worrying about having a lecture about being ‘transphobic’.
- We need clear legal guidance
An anecdote from an acquaintance of a transitioner. Her 14 year old daughter was
taking place in a dance show in a city in the south of England. All the girls were aged
12-16, getting changed in a room with mums to help. Suddenly one of the fathers
came in – where the girls were naked and changing – with his 12 year old daughter,
who was in the show. There was a lot of teen screaming and horror, as you can
imagine and he was asked to leave. He refused, saying he was a woman now (he was
wearing a dress and heels -a new thing) and by law they were acting illegally if they
told him to leave. There was a standoff. None of the mums or the dance teacher
knew the law and they couldn’t have enforced it anyway, no one knew if they should
call the police (who I doubt would have helped anyway), they were scared as he was
insistent and a bit aggressive, his daughter was in tears, the girls were upset and
refusing to change. In the end the dance teacher told him the show could not proceed
until the girls were changed, and he would need to leave or she would have to go and
announce to the audience why the show was cancelled. He angrily left but everyone
Without clarification from the government, these misunderstandings will continue.
The daughter also needs to know what her father can and cannot do while
- We need to be able to express our reality clearly and without censorship
Our father transitions and wants to be called a woman. Sometimes he wants to be
called ‘mother’. Whether we want to cooperate with this or not should be up to us.
Official bodies should not seek to censor us or suppress our speech when we talk
about our real lived experiences in the language we choose. When I was a child my
father told me that he had a woman’s brain in a man’s body. We now know this is
not scientifically possible, and the Government has explicitly told educators to stop
using this phrase in schools. If we do not believe that our fathers are actually women
(which is very much a faith-based belief) we should be able to do so freely. This is
why we need police forces not to pursue people for ‘hate speech’ when we talk
about the reality of gender identity.
Here is a child of a transitioner who wanted to contribute anonymously to the
“One of the painful things for daughters of transitioners is when their father starts to
refer to them by body parts- ‘menstruator, cervix haver, bleeder’- or to a vagina as a
‘front hole’ to try and force her belief he has become a woman due to his clothing
choices and sexual fetishes. It is degrading and wrecks your self esteem as a teenage
girl, and the fact that other organisations- even the NHS- have started using these
dehumanising phrases to refer to women, but not doing the same to male
‘ejaculators’ show just how far from biological reality and care for women and girls
many government funded organisations have come, including the NHS.”
- We need accurate legal documents
The recent rejection of Freddie McConnell’s attempt to have their baby’s birth
certificate changed to record them as the baby’s father rather than mother is very
welcome. We hope that these protections for future children of transitioners will