I Was A Teenage Transsexual Super Mom
by Kathleen Assensi
The colossal automobile hurtled past the stop sign and into the intersection, leaving Ricky no time to turn the wheel or hit the brakes. Sitting in the dingy passenger seat (and struggling to hurry, hurry, hurry; get the seat belt on), I saw it all happening with unbearable slowness. Our jellybean of a Geo Metro spun around like a toy car on a 78RPM turntable. We jolted to a halt with heart-stopping suddenness.
We were alive.
Hours later, Ricky finally came out of the emergency room. He meandered over to me, looking entirely dazed, and took my hand in his. I gazed into his eyes as he placed my hand on his tummy.
I knew exactly what that meant: we were having a baby! We had been trying to get pregnant him since we moved in together months ago. I was elated, even if in a bit of shock from the accident, totaling our car, and finding out everything was (hopefully) going to change and be just the way we wanted it!
We named our son, born in June of 2002, Rio Francesco. On the birth certificate, we are listed as the wrong type of parents.
"Are you sure this is right? Katie is the... father?" asked the person recording the information, for the secondtime.
I wanted to scream, "No! No! No! You've got it all wrong! Katie is the mother!"
There seemed to be no hope of getting anyone to wrap their minds around the concept of a family like ours, where the boys give birth and the girls cut the umbilical cords. I began to realize how truly weird my little family must seem to most people. Like a 1950's B-movie, I was a teenage transsexual mom!!! I prepared myself for everyone to gasp in terror at my approach.
Rio was blissfully oblivious to the horror-movie-turned-reality that was his mother. He did all of the usual baby things regardless of my gender identity: he pooped, he ate, he cried, he slept, and he smiled (albeit only when he farted).
Everyone else, on the other hand, seemed to be, if not always revolted, at least aware of the situation. When we visited my family, they placed a lot of emphasis on Ricky's role as the birth parent and his "special connection" with Rio, all couched in relation to the word "mother". While Ricky and Rio do share a special connection, and Ricky's experiences going through labor are immensely different from (and likely more intense than) my experiences trying to help him feel as well as possible, I was the mother. We were partners and we both loved and cared for Rio. Yet, there I was, hardly even acknowledged as a secondary parent.
We visited Portland when Rio was three weeks old. Our friends (all hip, queer twentysomethings) thought he was the cutest little guy ever. By the end of the first evening, almost everyone was talking about wanting to have babies â€œsome day, "in a few years" or when they got their "acts together". I couldn't help but wish one of them would decide to have a baby now, like we had. I figured we were likely to be the only teen parents out of everyone we would be meeting as Rio grew up and gained new levels of independence.
What if Rio had friends whose parents had an understanding of trans people, as well as an acceptance of young parents? Ricky and I might end up making some friends who knew what "baby-friendly" meant and could pick a restaurant or entertainment event based on it.
On a bus in Portland, a woman took one look at our family and sighed. Shaking her head, she said, "Babies having babies". Later we said it was funny, but at the time it just made me sad.
Strangers love to look at babies and tell their parents "Oh, my! You have such a cute baby!" Being a teenage transsexual mom made strangers keep their comments to themselves. It seemed nice at first, not having to stop and let strangers gawk at our little one, but eventually I realized I had two scarlet T's pinned to my shirt.
I entered a period where I worried about Rio all the time, but not for the usual reasons, not for the good reasons. I worried he would be made fun of because of me. I worried he wouldn't have friends because of me. I worried he would be embarrassed of me.
I tried to keep my chin up and take good care of my little guy. I managed, with a whole lot of help from Ricky, my partner, fifty-fifty all the way. I learned af ew things by watching Rio react to Ricky and I. I learned from watching Ricky and Rio act like old pals.
I learned I make a good momma. I knew how to snuggle, feed, rock, sing, hug, love, laugh, tickle, and a whole lot more. The things I couldn't do, I could learn. The things I didn't learn, I could get by without. I was not a monster. I was a teenage transsexual super mom!!!