Baby, plan your birth!

A couple of queer expats in Singapore on a quest to make a baby


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Parental Honorifics, or a modest request to honor my gender identity by calling me a nonsense word I made up

Hey all, sorry we’ve been MIA. We’ve both been super busy with travel, baby prep, and trying to get as much work done as possible in our respective careers before there is so much poop everywhere. I won’t promise to fill in the backlog (because I’m writing poems about the pregnancy instead!) except to say that the wee one is healthy, male-bodied, and due June 4.

Actually, the reason I’m writing here today is that I want to share something baby-related in a larger space than a facebook post permits. If you wandered here from facebook, I’m glad you’re reading.

Okay, so this is about what my parental honorific is to be. But I should back up.

If you didn’t know this, I’m genderqueer. What does that mean? It’s a subset of transgender, and it means that a person is not exactly male or female. Maybe somewhere in the middle, or a little of both, or some third thing, or whatever. For me, it means that I don’t self-identify as female or male. Sometimes I joke that my gender is velociraptor. I’m not planning on transitioning from my female body to a male body because that won’t actually line me up right either. Instead, I just kind of dress like a teenage boy but use female pronouns and get on with my life because I don’t really notice my own gender that much.

So, since I don’t identify as female, I also don’t identify as girl, woman, lesbian, butch, wife, etc. But usually, I just let these things slide because I can’t be bothered, and I understand that it’s with love when a friend says, “Hey girl!” and with acceptance when someone in Singapore miraculously calls me my wife’s wife.

Do you see where this is going?

Our child has to call me something. I have to pick that something, and I have to get a reasonable number of people on board to call me that something.

We thought about this for a long time.

We considered variations of Mom, which all felt very wrong. I love moms. I love my mom. I aspire to be as awesome a parent as the many moms I know. But I am not a mom. Our child will not have two moms.

We considered variations of Dad, which felt somehow less wrong, but still not right. I love dads. I love my dad. I probably identify more with stay-at-home-dad culture than anything else, but I’m still not Dad.

We considered Baba, which is the go-to parent name for many butch and genderqueer parents in the US. But it actually means Dad here in Singapore. So that’s not going to work.

We considered culturally appropriating some word for parent in another language. Not only did that feel icky, but I didn’t like any of the choices.

I briefly championed “the AP” or “the aged P,” but my wife says that not everyone likes allusions to minor Dickensian characters when being introduced to their kid’s friend’s parent.

Finally, we picked something completely random. You will laugh. But I hope you will get on board.

Dabo.

It’s not a name, no. It’s a couple of syllables a baby can say. (Da rhymes with ba + bo like in bowtie.) It means “I will give” in Latin. (It also means “bread” in Amharic, and “gold” in Aramaic. For the Trekkies among you, yes, it’s also the Ferengi roulette game.)

Mainly, it feels good. We’ve been using it for a couple of months, and we like it.

For our kid’s teachers, we can be his moms, sure. Teachers have enough to deal with, and I’ll personally be happy if they just remember that we all go together. But for everyone else, we’ll be Mom and Dabo.

There will be some downsides.

He will be the only kid with a Dabo, and if he wants to tell the other kids something else, that’s cool. We’re not trying to make his life more complicated than necessary. (We’re also not going to be in Singapore by the time he starts school, which will help. Maybe. Depending on where in the States we land.)

Not picking one of the recognized Mom/Dad names may also mean that strangers won’t immediately realize I’m his parent. The fact that I often look like a 17-year-old boy may not help. But E is confident that the parental glow will surround me. Perhaps more realistically, we may have to accept that strangers won’t know what’s up right away. But if the people we care about get on the Dabo train, then it doesn’t matter that much what the others do. (Besides, I have around 26 years of experience in having awkward conversations about my gender, my sexual orientation, and what the hell I’m doing in the women’s room.)

Which is why I’m writing this post. To introduce myself, perhaps for the first time (though you may have suspected), as a genderqueer velociraptor who’s going to be a Dabo in a few short months.

I can’t wait.

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