What if your husband one day decided he wanted to become your wife? Daytime TV host Anderson Cooper featured a couple in this situation on his show Wednesday, stirring debate on a controversial issue involving transgenderism and its impact on families.
"Some people ... worry that my children are not going to have a father in their life but I would beg to differ. I'm still a great dad as well as a great mother," Chloe Prince, formerly known as Ted, said on the show.
After being married for ten years, Ted told his wife Rene that he was going to have gender reassignment surgery, which he underwent in Thailand. Afterwards he returned home and continued to raise his two sons with Rene.
Bryan Fischer of The American Family Association told The Christian Post that what this story really does is "illustrate the problems you get into when you are basing gender policy on subjective emotions rather than science and biology."
He said the situation goes back to the basic problem that "somebody has given assistance to this man to help him believe that he is a woman, but he's not. He was born a male, every single cell in his body is male, his DNA is male, biologically he will be a male until day he dies."
On Wednesday's show, Chloe told Cooper that she would dress in girls' clothes as a young boy. After her gender reassignment surgery, she said "there was a calmness that came over me. The surgery helped me recognize who I had been all my life."
Chloe initially decided to have the surgery because she found out through a blood test that she had Klinefelter syndrome – a condition in which human males have an extra X chromosome.
She had actually begun to grow breasts and her skin became softer. Ultimately, she liked the changes and decided to become a woman.
Chloe told Cooper that she had tried her whole life to fit into the mold of being a man, but she couldn't fight it anymore. "You could take a zebra and paint it to look like a horse, but eventually it's going to show its stripes. I just chose to surrender and accept who I am."
When it came to breaking the news to their two young boys, Chloe – who began the sex change when her sons were 2 and 3 years old – said they told them in "small doses that are age-appropriate."
"Children at that age don't ask and they more openly accept things," she said, adding that the best thing to do was to bring this to the children's attention early on so that when they are older, they "don't feel like a parent has been stripped away from them."
In a 2009 interview with ABC News, Chloe had acknowledged that her sons were affected by the sex change, and said she struggles with the guilt of that responsibility.
"I carry the selfishness as guilt around constantly. It's something that I'm looking to find resolve for," she told ABC. "I did what I had to do. And had I not done what I did, there would be a gravestone somewhere with my name on it. So – am I here? I'm alive and I am happy. I am no longer in conflict with what I see in the mirror."
On Wednesday, Chloe said her sons "look at me as a mom but they also know that the legacy of my fathers' fathers' fathers are all within me."
Both of their sons are resigned to the situation, and Rene told Cooper that "they know their dad is inside Mama Chloe."
"I take ownership over being their father as the person that seeded their life ... but I'm living the rest of my life in the role of another mother," said Chloe.
As for the couple, Chloe and Renee had a legal divorce but still live together to raise their children. They do not engage in sexual relations.
Chloe said that they don't fit into heterosexual or homosexual categories. "This is our own box," she told Cooper in the interview.
She said she is attracted to men and identifies as a heterosexual woman. When she was a male, she said she identified as a heterosexual man. But admitting that she's had relationships "both ways," she added, "There's room for figuring out still there."
Situations like Chloe and Rene's are rare, Fischer told CP, but it might be something we start to see more of.
Such cases, he cautioned, could also "be a backdoor way to legalize same-sex marriage. It illustrates the problems you get into when you are basing gender policy on subjective emotions rather than science and biology. The reality is that the state should not give any legal recognition to a relationship not rooted in laws of biology."
Ultimately, he said, the situation displayed on the "Anderson" show "sends a confusing message."
"If you look at transgendered relationships you have a violation of the laws of nature and ... God because those relationships are fundamentally unnatural."