A transgender dad who gave birth twice while living as a woman says he finally found the courage to transition to male after his step-daughter came out as a boy.
Soccer coach Spencer Hanson, 36, from Kansas City, Kansas, was raised as a girl in a conservative, Christian family and says he always knew ‘100 per cent’ he was not female.
While he wasn’t familiar with the term ‘transgender’ until his 20s, Spencer came out as gay at the age of 19 and married wife Jess Hanson, 42, in 2008.
Becoming dad: Transgender father Spencer Hanson, pictured while pregnant before his transition, has revealed how he found the courage to come out after giving birth to two kids
Happy family: The father-of-four, now 36, says he only found the strength to come out after his step-daughter Bub (pictured left) confessed to wanting to live as a boy
Jess had two children from a previous relationship, and the couple then went on to have a son and daughter of their own after Spencer fell pregnant using a sperm donor.
During his first pregnancy with daughter Bug, now nine, Spencer battled gender dysmorphia but feared his loved ones would be ashamed if he came out as trans.
It was only when his step-daughter Bub – then aged nine – announced she was a boy and not a girl that Spencer found the courage to begin his own transition.
He said the process of enrolling a step-child in therapy and starting them on hormone blockers gave him the strength to begin his own transition to male.
After having his second son, Cub, now five, in 2013, and suffering a miscarriage in 2015, Spencer began taking testosterone and had a hysterectomy and double mastectomy.
Speaking publicly about his journey for the first time, Spencer, who runs an Instagram blog called Becoming Dad, says he believes he would not be alive if it wasn’t for Bub.
Meanwhile, Bub has begun another stage of their journey and is ‘de-transitioning’ back to a girl.
‘I always knew I was 100 per cent not a girl, so when I got pregnant it was super hard and the whole thing gave me so much anxiety,’ Spencer said.
Memories: Spencer, pictured at age eight, before his transition, was raised in a conservative Christian household, and says he didn’t even know what the term transgender was until his 20s
Struggle: Before transitioning, Spencer gave birth to two children as a woman, but admits that pregnancy gave him ‘so much anxiety’ because he was struggling with gender dysmorphia
A new chapter: In 2010, Spencer’s step-daughter Bub broke down and came out as a boy. Spencer is pictured left after four days on testosterone and right after 26 months
Embracing life: Spencer, pictured recently, says that Bub’s courage gave him the strength to come out, admitting that before his step-daughter’s admission, he had been feeling ‘suicidal’
‘Literally no one else on the face of the planet can be pregnant except girls and I did not know how to be pregnant and not be feminine.
‘What kept me from transitioning is I felt like I was completely letting my parents down and I would lose them and my brother and my friends of many years.
‘I don’t like making people feel disappointed or ashamed in me.
‘In 2010, I was at Walmart with my little Bub and I was like, “Go and pick out some clothes.”
‘My Bub was crying so I said, “What is going on?” and she said, “I can’t be [birth name] any more. I will die.”
‘I said, “OK, who are you?” She said she was male and was this other name and I said, “OK, hi [name].”
‘We got her in gender therapy and on hormone blockers and she legally changed her name.
‘When she was in therapy, the therapist said to me, “Have you addressed your gender issues?”
‘I felt like there was no way I could ever say I was transgender too because otherwise everyone would blame my child’s transition on me being trans, so I both appreciated Bub coming out and resented it.
Struggle: ‘Literally no one else on the face of the planet can be pregnant except girls and I did not know how to be pregnant and not be feminine,’ Spencer explained
Conflict: Spencer admits to feeling slightly ‘resentful’ after Bub came out, because he was worried that if he came out afterwards, people would ‘blame’ Bub’s feeling on him
Scars: After giving birth to his son Cub in 2013, and suffering a miscarriage in 2015, Spencer underwent a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy
‘But the therapist saying it to me sparked a conversation with my wife and I was like, “I literally hate my body.”
‘I was suicidal and I came out as transgender. I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t transition.
‘Around 13, Bub started going back in the other direction. She was having mental health issues, but she seems pretty comfortable with who she is.
‘I like to remind her that she is the reason I’m alive today because if I had not gone through that with her I could not have realized that I am who I am.’
Growing up, Spencer played sport with male classmates, hated feminine clothes and knew ‘100 per cent’ that he was not a girl.
But he did not know what it was to be transgender until his mid twenties.
After moving to college, he chopped his hair off and, at the age of 19, came out as a lesbian to his parents.
Then in 2007 he met his wife Jess, who works in the medical field.
He refers to her two children as Bub, now 16, and Cupcake, 21, but does not wish to disclose their real names.
Bond: In 2016, Spencer had a conversation with his daughter Bug, who is autistic, to explain his transition. Bug, now nine, is pictured with her younger brother Cub
Relationships: Bug decided that she wanted to call Spencer ‘dad’, after the two of them discussed many different labels and options together
Moving forward: Spencer, who says all of his children now call him dad, is currently in the process of separating from wife Jess, but says they remain on good terms
The pair married in 2008 and are currently separating but remain on good terms.
Spencer – who does not wish to share his female birth name – said he and Jess raised their children ‘without gender expectations’ to help them ‘support their truest selves’.
It means the open-minded youngsters have taken to calling Spencer ‘dad’ after years of him being their mother.
‘In early 2016 I said to Bug, who is autistic, “OK honey, here is the deal. I was born a girl but I don’t feel like a girl, I feel like a boy,”‘ Spencer said.
‘I said, “I don’t want to upset you because you are important to me. What would you like to call me?”
‘We went through different names and my daughter finally was just like, “Can we just use dad?” And I was like, “Yeah.”
‘They all call me dad now.
‘The hardest thing about it was giving up the title “mom”, because for me it held a lot of emotion.
‘But when they call me dad it makes me feel normal.
‘I’m finding my happy and I want my kids to know you are you, exactly as you are meant to be.’