Names: Mathaeo Labayan and Jonah Arvelo
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Relationship Status: Engaged! We’ve been together 3 years and are getting married in October 2018
Occupations: Photographer and Female Illusionist
How Many Kids Do You Have? One daughter, who just turned 2.
What’s Her Name? Anuhea Makanamakamae Mona-Lisa Labayan Arvelo; It roughly translates to: “softly blowing breeze, gift in my eyes, work of art.”
What Does She Call You? Mathaeo is called “Dad,” or “O-dee,” which means “Other Daddy.” Jonah is called “Dad,” or “Papi”
How did you two meet? At a drag show that he [Jonah] was hosting, and I [Mathaeo] was photographing. I noticed this Hawaiian queen that was hosting the show that I just had to meet. We were mutual friends for about a year, and got to work together at a popular Las Vegas establishment together. Things changed over time, and a friendship became more. We became best friends in our relationship, and we were both changed for the best reasons in life.
Tell us about your path to parenthood? As a trans man, carrying a child was way out of anything I wanted to do. I wanted to be a dad, but not as me carrying. But we progressed, with the support of our family, and the confidence of knowing I had a partner that accepted me for me. I knew that it was a big deal for us to have a child that was “ours.” Many same-sex couples do not have that luxury. Creating and having our daughter was the hardest and, interestingly, the most masculine thing I’ve ever done. We continue to enjoy and share our experience with the world. We love to show that however different anyone’s family is, you can be happy and normal, regardless of what stigma may be out there to make you think otherwise.
Have you always wanted to be a father? I would always question if I would be a good father or not. The question would flicker in my mind because I had a very difficult childhood. My partner is amazing; he assured me I would be a good father. He knew that by nurturing me, I would become the person I needed and wanted to be. He showed me love, and now I bestow that on our daughter tenfold. Together we have no doubts that out life in fatherhood will be anything short of amazing.
What obstacles did you face on your path to fatherhood? The one obstacle that I feel rocked our world the most was the change that happened to my trans body. Psychologically and physically, I felt that perhaps my partner would look at me different, or that I would never again be the same guy. I didn’t care how the world saw me. For once it was about how he would see me. Together we conquered those days that maybe weren’t so great due to my body issues. Today, the bond we share as partners, and now fathers, continues to build us up to face the world head on with our daughter as our anchor.
What have you learned about being a trans dad? I’ve learned that life changes dramatically after you have children. Living in Las Vegas, we are a part of the performing community. Between funding outfits, keeping up with photography equipment, and having time to perform- we learned that priorities are now set to having regular employment and spending lots of time with our daughter. However we find great pride in being the role models for our child that she deserves. We’ve also learned a great deal of patience. Patience is definitely a virtue when dealing with children. I can admit that sometimes it can still be a struggle.
What’s your main goal as a parent? Our goals are to raise our daughter in a free world, and to let her know that there are families of all different makeups. We are showing her to be gender and color blind. It is important for her to know that love has no boundaries, and to accept everyone for who they are. I never used to think I could be a family man. I never had family and though I have seen the potential for a happy family, I never knew it could be a reality for a trans person like me.
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