I am a transwoman or feeling like that. My wife says she accepts my coming out and my needs in this direction but wants that

  • neither she (which is desirable for her though not the topic here. She explains her attitude it's for aesthetics reasons/her personal taste.)
  • nor our daughter (4 yrs old) should notice that (which is the topic here).

I do share her concern about the daughter and I am therefore not sure what and how much I can allow myself in this situation and how much my daughter needs to be "protected", in case for example I would discover after some time I am not feeling well with this decision and it's something else.

We are discussing about things like coloring my long hair and coloring nails and getting an ear piercing, not even public/in house dressing.

The wife says, she would like to talk to a pediatrician to make sure recent studies prove children do not get traumatized. (We live in a rural area in a country where most people wouldn't care anyway I think but we have moved recently here and I just do not know people well, there are many "classical" families around).

What are your experiences? How much protection from my experiments/possible social reactions which can't be concealed does my child need?

  • 3
    Tough question (and sorry, I don’t have any studies available, so just a comment from me). But maybe a thought that could help: Remember that especially younger kids usually are surprisingly accepting of the “it is like it is”, experiment themselves a lot in play and are less hampered by “established social norms“ and “how it should be”.
    – Stephie
    Commented May 29, 2020 at 12:03
  • 2
    Have you figured out for yourself what you want in the end? There is a big difference between painting your nails for a night out and a full on transformation and the level of what your daughter needs to know about it may depend on it.
    – AsheraH
    Commented May 29, 2020 at 14:40
  • 8
    Tell your wife you want to see a paediatrician to make sure recent studies prove children are not harmed by having a parent who is forced to conceal their gender identity. She is setting you up for failure with a negative that may turn out to be hard to prove. It sounds like she does not, in fact, accept your coming out.
    – user36162
    Commented May 29, 2020 at 15:03
  • 5
    Also, there are many ways to not be cis. Trans is a wide umbrella. You seem troubled by the idea that you may not always feel the way you do now. Well, then, maybe you'll find out you're gender fluid instead. Or bigender. Or non binary. That you'd actually be a cis person who mistook some other identity issue for trans seems really far fetched to me, but even in that scenario, if you return to be a cis man, you will only have given your children a broader definition of what and how a man can be.
    – user36162
    Commented May 29, 2020 at 23:05
  • 1
    Your bullets are really confusing. Can you make them each a complete sentence or get rid of the bullets so they aren't breaking up a sentence?
    – Kat
    Commented May 30, 2020 at 3:57

2 Answers 2


Depending on where you live, this might sound controversial, but children don't need protection from their parents as long as they don't engage in violent, sexual or otherwise unhealthy behavior in front of / with the children.

Painting your nails, dying your hair or even dressing in feminine clothes is not sexual or unhealthy behavior, it's you living your gender identity. Other parents may grow a beard after being clean shaven for years, start listening to hard rock music or decide to become vegan. Where's the difference from the perspective of a child? There is none.

Many families nowadays get divorced (or break up if they weren't married) and the children have to get used to having a new mommy or a new daddy. Are they traumatized by such drastic changes? I'd argue the biggest risk of traumatizing is the arguments and fights of the parents, not the introduction of new partners. You living your gender identity more openly is certainly less traumatizing than a divorce.

Where I live, same gender families are becomming more and more publicly acknowledged and accepted. Same gender families can also marry and adopt children. Those children grow up with the knowledge that they have two mommies or daddies or even that mommy was a boy when she was a child. It's what they are used to and just the natural state of their family. They aren't traumatized when learning that the vast majority of children have one mommy and one daddy instead of two.

The daughter of my friend grew up with the knowledge that she had two uncles instead of an uncle and an aunt. She went to an evangelic school and openly opposed her teacher who wanted to convince her that only an aunt and an uncle could be a "family", because she witnessed the love between her uncles and all other family members confirmed that her two uncles were a family. It was her natural state of the family and no teacher could change that.

Another daughter has a teacher who physically and legally transitioned during summer break. This wasn't a surprise to any teacher or student at the school because the teacher already adapted gestures, mannerisms and a clothing style that could only be considered feminine. She didn't even change schools or classes after her transition. Granted, there were some obstacles (as there always are), but the students accepted her new identity much easier than the fellow teachers.

On the other hand, I've heard of homosexual men who lived a heterosexual live and had children for decades before finding the courage to come out and seek the love of another man. Some of those stories have a sad end, because the (now adult) children grew up expecting their dad to be "normal" and couldn't accept the seemingly new identity of him.

The reoccuring theme here is: The younger a child is, the less traumatized it's going to be by your change and the more accepting it will be. The longer you hide your true identity behind a mask, the more "normal" this mask will become. When you finally decide to drop the mask, your child has to get used to a new "normal". The sooner you drop the mask, the sooner will your child accept the true you as normal.

The way your question is phrased suggest that your wife is not afraid of traumatizing your doughter, but of people gossiping about you and by proxy her. It sounds like she uses your daughter as an argument to force you to keep your gender identity secret. She (rightfully) is afraid that if your daughter witnesses your trying things out, she will speak about it with other people. The things to realize here are:

  1. Of course she'll speak about it. Why shouldn't she? For her there's no reason to keep your behavior a secret. At 4 years of age she doesn't have such a strict black-and-white understanding of gender and doesn't see a reason why she shouldn't talk about you painting your nails.
  2. It's the other adults that have a black-and-white concept of gender and will certainly be less accepting. It's the adults your wife is afraid of, not traumatizing your daughter.

Unfortunately, resolving this conflict with your wife is not on topic here. If problems arise, Interpersonal Skills SE might be the right place to ask for help.

To aid you in your search for scientific studies concerning children of transgender parents, I invite you to read:

Compared with children referred to the same clinical service regarding concerns about their own gender identity, the children of transsexual parents were less depressed and less likely to report peer harassment, persecution or victimization. However, the case notes of children of transsexual parents revealed that this group was more likely to have experienced marital conflict between their parents than were children referred with gender identity concerns and as likely to record difficulties in parent-child relationships and general difficulties with peer relationships.

A good starting point for further research is Google Scholar.

  • 1
    Nice answer, Thanks! +1 from me. Commented May 30, 2020 at 17:35

This is a partial answer, as the earlier answer is quite complete.

The wife says, she would like to talk to a pediatrician to make sure recent studies prove children do not get traumatized.

The vast majority of pediatricians will not have a ready answer for you. Like anyone else, they are most knowledgeable in (and focus on) what they see most often, what they might see, and what's critical not to miss (lethal but rare diseases.)

A better choice is for you and your wife to find a good family therapist. A good fit for the two of you won't be easy to find, but it's invaluable. They can help your wife to understand the situation and adjust unhealthy/unhelpful expectations (e.g. not expose your child to who you really are.) Then they can help plan how to explain/reveal your identity to your child in a manner most likely to be helpful to the child.

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