I never really thought I would be a parent, but now it’s one of the best parts of my life.
Kids are on my mind because today is Trans Parent Day.
The little person in my life is my best friend’s six-year-old son, H. I think of us as co-parents; H calls me Uncle Jesse.
I mostly live alone, but I spend at least a couple of days every week with the two of them.
I do the school run, help H practise reading and numbers, help his mum with decisions about healthcare and school.
H loves watching cartoons, riding his scooter, learning about science, and putting Lego models together.
We get a snack at the coffee shop after school and go to swimming lessons on Mondays.
This year, he invited me to his class’s Father’s Day celebration and made me a special card.
Our time together every week makes me so happy.
I had just begun my gender transition when he was born. I sat with his mum during labour, scrubbed in for surgery when she finally needed a caesarean, and cut his umbilical cord before being the first person to hold him and talk to him.
He doesn’t remember me as anything but the scruffy, bearded, balding man he knows. He recognises me in old photos where I look feminine but hasn’t yet realised what that means.
H is starting to be curious about relationships and babies, and I try to be inclusive when we discuss these things: most boys have a penis, most women have a uterus, people can have two mums or none, two men can get married, all people and families are different.
Kids understand diversity pretty well. They’re not born bigots, and they accept differences if nobody teaches them otherwise.
H knows that Uncle Jesse has a boyfriend, and he’s asked me if I am (or will be) married to his mum – compulsory monogamy doesn’t seem to have crossed his mind yet.
I recently had the final stage of my genital surgery for transition.
I told H that I had testicle surgery, to his absolute amusement – nothing is funnier to a six-year-old than underpants and balls.
I haven’t yet broached with him what trans is, but he understands that I didn’t have testes when I was born, so the doctor gave me some.
More than anything, H was worried about whether the surgery hurt me, because he’s the sweetest and most empathetic little boy I’ve met.
An early part of transition was confirming my decisions about kids – testosterone can affect the ovaries, which I chose to have removed in any case.
In my early thirties, I hadn’t wanted for a long time to be a parent, so I was happy enough to forfeit my fertility and forgo the expense of freezing eggs.
I have kept my uterus, so theoretically I could carry a pregnancy if I wanted to. Friends have even offered to be donors.
I still don’t think I want to be pregnant or become a full-time dad, but the experience of raising a wonderful little person with my closest friend is amazing.
For someone who didn’t plan on kids, I’m so happy to have him in my life.
In March, H’s little brother is due to be born.
I’ll have a couple of months away from my day job so that I can spend more time looking after the two boys and their mum.
Whether he wants to call me Dad or Uncle Jesse or something else, I can’t wait for the new addition to our little family.