in , , , ,

Mom Refuses To Take Down Photo Of Late Husband Showing Tattoo Of Trans Son’s Deadname

angry young man
Deepak Sethi/Getty Images

In a since-deleted post, Redditor No_Explanation_107 explains that they will not take down a picture despite it containing their son’s deadname.

The Original Poster (OP) explains that the photo is significant because it is of her son, herself, and her late husband.

The OP’s late husband had their son’s deadname tattooed on his arm and passed away before he began to transition.

The tattoo of their deadname understandably triggers the OP’s son, but this is one of the few photos of the three of them.

The OP turned to subReddit “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) to get feedback on their decision.

She asked:

“AITA for refusing to take down a picture that has my son’s deadname?”

She went on to explain:

“I [42-year-old Female] have a son Ben [19-year-old Male] with my husband Tom. Ben was born a girl and realized by 16 that he wanted to transition from [Female to Male].”

“Tom and I weren’t initially supportive, and I took longer to come around. I only did so after Tom passed in an accident, and I realized how distant my relationship with Ben was.”

“When Ben was born, Tom got a tattoo of our then daughter’s name on his arm…”

“…and we have a lovely picture together of me, Tom and Ben (at a few months old) at the beach where Tom’s tattoo is visible.”

“Ben doesn’t like me to keep picture up of him past when he was a kid or older and still female presenting, so I only have pictures out in the house of him as a toddler or an adult now.”

“The only picture that I have not agreed to take down is the one of us at the beach.”

“I really like that one and Ben’s only issue is the tattoo but for me it’s one of my happiest memories that day and I don’t want to take it down.”

“Ben is very upset about me keeping that picture up and says I’m being cruel as it reminds him of his deadname.”

“ETA- Tom passed when Ben was still female presenting so the only photo I have of us three that Ben likes (well used to like) is the one at the beach…”

“…where Ben is a lot younger and wearing a gender-neutral outfit.”

“Also the photo is up in the hallway portion just outside my bedroom, which is not anywhere near Ben’s room and will not be seen by houseguests unless they come in my room.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided:

“Probably controversial, but NTA. This is a picture of your family at one of its happiest moments. Your husband is deceased, and that picture reminds you of happier times.”

“You have rid the house of all other pictures of your son, except this one. Time for Ben to compromise.” – New-Comment2668

“Usually when I see the title of posts like this I immediately feel that the OP would be TA, but after reading through I need to say NTA.”

“It very well could be that the pain of the initial rejection of transition is what’s motivating the anger of OPs child, that and the trauma of losing their father.”

“Keeping that one photo up that was a precious memory is allowed, especially if OP is finally taking accountability and is finally taking the responsibility…”

“…to make adjustments to suit their son (removing majority of photos etc).”

“I’ll never pretend to understand what a trans person experiences, especially in the vulnerable stages of the initial transitioning and the need for support/acceptance/validation…”

“…and in the same breath I can’t put myself in the shoes of a parent who is experiencing their child changing before their eyes.”

“I feel like both sides of the coin come with a lot of grief, mourning, confusion, and a whole range of emotions that are best explored in a safe space…”

“…such as a therapist who has experience with trans people.”

“Bottom line, I feel OP is allowed to keep that one photo – but until both them and their son work through their grief and come to an understanding…”

“…a compromise may be wise where said photo is kept in OPs bedroom and not in shared living areas of the house.” – spookobsessedscot


“He’s allowed to not like it and you’re allowed to like it. “

“Consider that it may be a reminder that his father was not supportive of his gender and that he did not feel safe transitioning while his father was alive.”

“His father never got to see him truly being himself. That’s pretty painful. To not have any photos of himself and his dad that aren’t painful.”

“That all your happiest memories will, of course, be of when your husband was still alive and are of times when he was suffering.”

“Can you take the photo to a photo restoration expert and see about getting a version made where the tattoo is removed?”

“It’s not difficult to do and does no damage to the original, which you can still keep while hanging a restored version.”

“Or, idk, cut a piece of post-it note over the tattoo so you can keep the photo, but Ben doesn’t have to look at his deadname when he looks at it?”

“Can you do something to help strengthen Ben’s connection to and memory of his father in different ways? I imagine there’s a lot of complicated feelings there.” – RainahReddit

“I’m going to say NAH but in a more gentle way. I’m trans (ftm) and I know how painful it can be to see things like that. Especially if Ben is trying to be stealthy in his day-to-day life.”

“If he doesn’t want anyone new that he meets (that he isn’t intimate with/dating) to know he’s trans, something like that photo can ruin everything.”

“That said, I’m still going with NAH. If the photo is as off to the side as you say it is, it’s fine that you have it up. It’s a photo you want to keep up to remember your husband and your family together.”

“My only suggestion, if you truly want to keep the peace, is to maybe have the photo digitally altered so the tattoo is removed.”

“I’m not saying it’s something you have to or should do. It’s just a suggestion, if it’s possible.” – Achaion34


“Whether Ben likes it or not he can’t erase his past and it’s cruel that he demands that you erase all your memories as a family because he doesn’t like how he was born.”

“I might be bit cold but that’s his problem, not yours.” – DivineJerziboss

“I’m going with NTA. Not sure if Ben still lives with you or not but regardless it’s your place, your memories.”

“My parents have pics of me and my brothers that we really don’t like but, I’m not going to tell my mom what she can and cannot put up in her own house.”

“If you want to compromise more, maybe when Ben comes to visit to take it down?!?” – Mountain-Play-3493

“NTA. This is the kind of bullsh*t that makes older LGBT people roll their eyes.”

“This kid has the most supportive parents ever by the standards of most of us who dealt with much, much worse from our families in the past…”

“…but a tattoo in a picture on their dead father that the father got honoring them as a sign of affection for them is some kind of terrible oppression.”  – Santos_L_Halper_II

“NAH – Ben is still young enough that the memories of how it felt to be pre-transition are probably still really fresh…”

“…and it can feel hard to get away from that feeling of being trapped and helpless when there are still even trivial reminders lying around.”

“Plus, if you’ve talked about this photo a lot together, it probably is starting to feel really outsize and hyper-important to him”

“It’s easy to not-think-about a picture that you hate, if nobody in the family has mentioned it in ages and it’s just the background noise of the house…”

“…but when it’s become a pitched battlefield, it’s harder to just work around.”

“If you put it in a drawer for a year, until he’s more secure in your support of him, and feels like he’s more distant from his pre-transition life, it’ll do a whole world of good.”

“But you’re also not being TA- If this is the only photo that you have of your husband, there’s no photos of him with the tattoo covered, or with you but without Ben…”

“…it’s also totally understandable that you’d want to display it.” – GlitteringBryony

“Older trans guy here. NTA.”

“I understand what your son feels like when he sees his deadname (it irks me too when I see mine, which I find annoying because I swore I wouldn’t care)…”

“…but as you said, it’s not even in a place where he’s going to see it unless he goes out of his way to.”

“It is important for him that is identity is accepted, and it seems to be the case even if you needed a longer moment to come around, it happens.”

“If you haven’t already tried, maybe explain to him that it’s not about his deadname. It’s about his father and the memories you have together.”

“If he can’t see it, maybe with time and with his transition progressing, he’ll be a little more open to conversation?”

“I really feel like your son could/should let this one go.”

“I’m really sorry about your husband.” – SuddenYolk

Not a simple answer on this one.

Clearly, there is a lot of love in this family, and we hope they can find some resolution.

What do you do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by B. Miller

B. is a creative multihyphenate who enjoys the power and versatility of the written word. She enjoys hiking, great food and drinks, traveling, and vulnerable conversation. Raised below the Mason Dixon, thriving above it. (she/her)