So…I should be working right now because I am swamped at work, but I make it a habit of getting at least one post a week up. This week I just wanted to take a moment to talk about being a dad. This will be the first Valentine’s Day I celebrate as the father of a daughter. For most dads the first usually involves a baby, but for me it involves a precocious 7 year-old.
Fab loves everything about Valentine’s Day. The red and pink hearts, the idea of candy and flowers, and that it is a holiday centered on love. While Mom and I have always seen it as more a commercial holiday than anything, and believe that love is something that should be shown every day, and not just once a year…firsts are important to children, and when your daughter gets this excited, you go with it.
About a month ago, Fab asked Mom if I would take her on a date for Valentine’s Day. She wanted me to take her to a fancy restaurant (where you get salad before a meal), and where she could wear her Valentine’s dress. How could I say no? Not even an option, and so we will go out on Saturday night to celebrate, as February 14th will be a school night, and most restaurants have a pre-set “expensive” menu that my little girl wouldn’t eat anything off of. To be honest, I am actually looking forward to it. A year ago I had what I thought was a son, and now I have an extremely happy little girl. I couldn’t be happier to see the joy she rampages through each day with. However, it also strikes me that I have an important job ahead of me, which takes on new significance because my daughter isn’t completely like most girls out there.
Reading the data on trans-women and what they face on a daily basis terrifies me as a father. Now, I know that many are paving the road for Fab, and our hope is that it will not be near as bumpy when she reaches adulthood. Nonetheless in a world where trans-women are regularly attacked, beaten, demeaned, ostracized, denied work, forced into sex work, and seen as a sexual fetish…I have the ability to help reinforce in my daughter her value and worth to not only those who know her, but to the world at large. Put in more simple words…I am the first man that can love her for who she is, unconditionally, and I have the power to show her this daily. She knows that with my heart and eyes I see her as a girl, and not a “Girl*”.
I don’t want to get into romantic discussions, because I have no idea what Fab’s sexuality will be, and to be honest, I couldn’t care about anything except I want her to find someone who will value and love her as much as her mother and I do. If I can do anything it will be to create in her a demand to be treated in such a way by anyone she might become romantically involved with as she grows up.
Valentine’s Day, Daddy/Daughter Dances, Birthdays, etc. are all important days where she is watching to see if I treat her as she thinks a dad should treat his daughter. She doesn’t feel complete yet. She hides it well, but it comes up in conversations, usually with her mother. Making some of these things important is stepping out of my comfort zone, but as any good parent knows, it isn’t about me. Besides a smile and spontaneous hug goes a long way to making it all worth it.
If there is one thing I hope that another father might get out of this post, it would be for you to take your daughter out on a date. It’s important for her to feel valued and special. It also will serve to show her that you see her as she wants to be seen. Be the man that she will measure all other men by in all manner of situations. You have a special power to make her strong enough to take on the world as she grows up, and you also have the power to take that strength away.