Laura Jane Grace on How to Be a Parent When You're Transitioning Genders

The Against Me! frontwoman kicks off the first installment of her advice column, Mandatory Happiness.

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Feb 19 2015, 4:00pm


A scene from "Transparenting" in True Trans on AOL

In Mandatory Happiness, Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace reaches her hand into the ol’ mailbag and answers some of your questions. Got a question for Laura? Need advice on life and love and music? Send it to and she will answer some on Noisey. All questions are confidential and your name will not be included if you'd prefer.

Dear Laura,

I'm 27 and trans. I have an eight-year-old daughter and I am terrified of telling her that I plan to transition, mainly because she will be losing her dad and we have an amazing bond that I don't want to lose. Me and her mother are not together anymore and she pretty much hates me. Do you have any advice on how I could tell her? I know you have gone through a similar experience.

First of all, I know the fear that you are somehow surrendering your claim to being her “dad.” But call it anything you want—your DNA connection to her creation is undeniable and unchangeable. She will always be of you.

Being separated from the mother, I’m right there with you. My daughter’s mother and I split a little over a year into my transition. I was already terrified when we were still together that the changes I was going through would alienate me from my daughter and that she would one day become estranged from me. Those fears did not lessen once we split, especially when the mother starts dating and then you start worrying that as you drift further and further away from the traditional concept of being a father, that these men will replace you completely in your daughter’s life. It fucking sucks.

If you’re anything like me though, you don’t have a choice as to whether or not you want to transition. If your happiness in life depends on you accepting this truth about yourself and starting down wherever the path of transition may lead, then it is what it is. I don’t know what happens in the end.

My friend Cory Branan has a lyric in one of his songs that goes, “How 'bout you wait and see just what you regret until we get what we get.”

Things may really fucking suck for a couple years. My personal hope is that if I go out into the world, just trying to be the best version of me that I can be, trying to focus on joy and good times and surrounding myself with positive people, that my own personal happiness will be strong enough to fuel me through the trials and tribulations of parenting, that I’ll have the strength to keep making an effort to make sure my daughter knows how much I love her and how much I will fight to continue to be a part of her life.

All parents fuck up. You’ll fuck up. I’ll fuck up. Fuck it. Show her unconditional love throughout her life no matter what and I have faith she will return it.

Continued below...

Dear Laura,

My partner is genderqueer but I see them fully transitioning in the future, and although I want to stay and make it work between us, I am worried that I will lose attraction to them because I identify as a lesbian and fear finding myself in a straight relationship. This is something that we have talked about before and although we agreed the future is not as certain as before, they know that they have my utmost love and support. And despite this fear I know that I will still feel the same love for them because it is the same person, the outside is just a little different. I'm just worried about losing physical attraction, which is not everything in a relationship but still matters.

You may be overthinking things a little. I would be surprised if your partner had an unchangeable, pre-determined, 100 percent committed road map detailing how they are going to get from who they are now to who they've decided they will become should they to decide they wanted to transition. As you said, they haven't said whether or not they want to transition.

Be careful not to create a situation where your partner feels like if they are making a decision that means they have to sacrifice one thing for another—that if they choose to transition—they lose you.

Should they decide to transition, they will change for sure, but neither you nor they can predict exactly what the effect of those changes will be.

What is it that you're attracted to? Their lips? They'll still taste the same. The curve of their clavicle? Your head will still rest on their shoulder in the same way.

I don't know the two of you so I don't know why your relationship currently works. I was talking with a friend of mine recently about lists—making lists of reasons as to why you want something. If the only thing on your list is sex, then yeah, this could potentially be the biggest adjustment. The way you fuck may change, and it definitely will if they decide to have bottom surgery. But sex changes over the course of any relationship. Maybe it’s hot and heavy at first and then you find the positions you're good at fucking in until it becomes purely functionary. But then you keep working at it and have a breakthrough and discover the joys of BDSM or Satanic sex rituals and then you're reignited and all hot and bothered for each other again. This may get old eventually, too.

If what you want out of the relationship is long-term commitment, think about the situation flipped around. What about if the tables were turned and one of your defining sexual characteristics changed? A cancerous breast removed. Your face disfigured in an accident. Life can change in a day.

If you're young and not looking for heavy commitment, then don't worry about it. You are probably going to break up eventually anyways and the reason for a good majority of break ups between people in cis-normative relationships can usually be boiled down to we just weren't attracted to each other anymore.

Just have fun with each other until it’s not fun and split.

Fuck it, even if what you originally wanted was a commitment like marriage, where you'd support each other through the thick and thin, then do the same. Just have fun with each other until it's not fun anymore and when you reach your breaking point and have given all you have to give and you split, then that was what your love was worth. Is that too dark?