Hello! I’m Emma B (real name withheld to protect my family). When I was nine, my father told me that he was a transsexual and ‘came out’ to me, dressed in women’s clothes. For complicated reasons (mostly because my mother was very ill), I lived alone with him while he transitioned, until I left home at 18. He took hormones, had extensive electrolysis and an operation which had some complications. He had a lot of trans friends over to stay, including a sex worker he had an intense relationship with and some who used me as ‘cover’ to help them pass. I think the idea was that if they were seen on the street with a kid then people wouldn’t look too closely at the hair and make up. It’s difficult to recall how well this worked, but we weren’t confronted at all. The British can be very polite. This was over 40 years ago, and I have had a number of encounters with transsexuality and transgenderism since then.
I’ve set up this site to explore the experience of being a child of a transitioner, and I am interested in hearing other people’s experiences of this. Perhaps we can create a resource for any young people experiencing the transition of one (or both!) of their parents. Perhaps we can write a book. Or perhaps I will just talk into the ether in the hope that it helps even a few people. Either way I am going to write about my experiences, and make up for the years when I just couldn’t bear to talk about it.
A note on language
When I was younger I was very careful about the language I used in describing my father, but I’ve since had a feminist realisation about the importance of accurate language. I rarely speak to my father these days, so how I address him doesn’t really come up. It’s not that we hate each other; he’s a pretty self-involved character and isn’t interested in having a relationship with me. I’ve come to terms with that (some Buddhist courses and reading about narcissism helped!). So I use ‘he/him’ and call him my father. Your language may be different. My intention isn’t to be mean or disrespectful to my father; it’s more that I want to be as truthful as possible. I don’t believe that my father actually became a woman through hormones and surgery, although I tried very hard to be accepting of his condition.