Baby, plan your birth!

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

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

7 Comments

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

  1. Thank you Dabo for reminding me of your made-up title because I wanted to send you guys something but was struggling to remember what the title was. Now you’ve pointed out the star trek reference I’ll never forget! I think it’s a cute name. And yes you’ll be the only Dabo on the block but that just makes you special 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful! Your child is lucky to be part of such a wonderful family. Keep shining!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome! I’m so very happy for you! I really love following this blog and seeing what the two of you are up to lately. I think that the word you settled on is perfect – I love it! I also love your writing here and really look up to you two 🙂 Good luck, Dabo! Can’t wait to hear more!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not sure if my comment worked out, but I’m happy for you guys and I really enjoy reading everything you put up here 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a thoughtful and generous name! As a PCUSA pastor, I love the resonance between the Amharic and the Latin– the notion that “I will give” and “bread” can be related, in the sense of giving of what is most essential for life.
    Wishing the best for you both, and praying that folks will enthusiastically embrace this wonderful honorific!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear H.
    I am so happy to find you. I have thought about you many times over the years. I am a retired school psychologist who had the pleasure of following your progress from second grade through middle school. You probably do not know who i am,but since i am gay, i was the person who your teachers and counselors consulted if they had concerns about your well being. I admired your intelligence and spunk, and knew you would do well once you figured things out for yourself. I am glad to see i was correct. Congratulations on dabohood.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear E & H, really happy to have found your blog and hope all has gone well since your last post. My partner and I are embarking on a similar journey and would like to ask you some questions if you don’t mind. If you have a spare moment, could you please drop me a line at the email in my profile? I look forward to hearing from you. 🙂

    Like

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