Alternative families are just families

Riverside’s Danielle Oliver talks about her experience of living in an ‘alternative’ family.


To celebrate Alternative Family Week, I wanted to share my experience of family life as I think it is pretty apt – to the outside world we are alternative, but to us we are just together.

To say my family is not the ‘norm’ is an understatement but we are a family, first and foremost.

My partner Michelle and I are parents to four lovely children – Charley, 7, Joe, 11, Katie, 13, and Sophie, 9. Both Michelle and I are trans women and dads to our children.

And this is where it gets confusing!

From the beginning, we have always said our children can call us what they want. Sophie calls Michelle ‘mum’, but to the other three we are ‘dad’.


It is an interesting experience as I grew up as a man and did the stereotypical bloke stuff such as playing football which, not to blow my own trumpet, I was very good at. So you can see me sprinting down the wing crossing the ball to Joe to head in between the jumpers we use for goalposts at our local park. But in the same breath we can also go make up and clothes shopping with Katie.

We don’t ever define our gender as a boundary to spending time with our children. It can get pretty interesting… yes I’m looking at you Charley!

Our children see us as parents and don’t see our gender as a barrier. Katie has friends over for sleepovers and we take Joe and his mates to basketball. It can get very funny as Charley will often shout at the top of her voice ‘Daaadddddy’ in the middle of the playground, and I run across the playground in my summer dress.

We have never faced any issues around this, we have had some looks but that’s it.


Charley is in fact the master at using pronouns. It’s ‘she is my daddy’ and in any conversation as far as she is concerned I’m a woman but her daddy at the same time.

We have been very lucky as what would tear some families apart bring us together, we have been through so much together and our family is stronger for it. I’m proud of all my children as they will not grow up knowing hate only love.

Family is about love and in that regards we are lucky. We have love, our children do well in and out of school. Ok, Charley may be a bit lippy but she takes after her daddy!