Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
I'm sitting by the fire in my Dad's old house. I've been thinking. I've been crying. I've been dreading the day of the funeral. Now it's tomorrow and there seems too little time left for anything. It's been of week of being at times quietly resigned to what has happened and horror at the unexpected twists and turns of events as a whole family prepares to say goodbye. Sister, daughters, brother in law, sister in law, nieces and mother in law all knew my father in their different ways intimate and distant. I'm sitting with a pack of small cards on the table for all these people to have tomorrow. Come the funeral in just over 12 hours, all these little cards will bear the feelings and thoughts of relatives and friends.
All these people had their own personal relationships with my father and with me as well as each other. If you joined all those relationships with yarn you would have a tangled web....and if you pull the wrong thread...a mess.
Earlier this week I discovered that one relative who really dislikes me as a trans woman had decided to be there tomorrow. I've always felt that he despised me. Since I started to transition I have watched helpless as the wreck of a once united family took place and feelings were mangled, bonds of love severed and relationships lay dying.
To those of my trans brothers, sisters, gay, lesbian and bi friends, none of this will come as much of a surprise I guess. Nonetheless, we none of us want this to happen but have it fall upon us. I have dealt with my own share of it as best I can but always with sorrow as I watched my young daughter and her nieces, nephews and so many others drift apart until the Grand Canyon seemed to open up between them. Try as I might, one by one, lights of relationship and friendship went out.
Earlier this week I wrote a heartfelt letter to my relative, welcoming him to the funeral, telling him how much I respect his views however painful I find them. I tried to explain how a lifetime of forever feeling a girl but having it bullied out of me as a child lead to me living a lie for much of my life. I asked him to try and be warm and understanding for the sake of our family.
This morning he replied. I read with tears how he felt he could never forgive me for hurting others within my family because of who I had chosen to be. I learned with sadness of an intention to appear warm in order to placate others but a promise that it would never be genuine. Of all the horrible words he wrote, the verb 'choose' was the unkindest he could have used. I never 'chose' to be like this. This is who I am. I am who I am and thankfully to nearly everyone I know and meet, who I am and always will be, is a woman.
At one time I too wondered whether it was me who had broken and wrecked my family; that by coming out I had somehow 'pulled the wrong thread' and brought about this tangled mess. If I had continued to believe that, I guess that I probably wouldn't be here now. I'll never give up trying to untangle it all using all the love and kindness I possess but faced with trans-phobia is that something that even love cannot untie?
Monday, November 7, 2011
It is never easy saying goodbye is it, even when the person you love has been telling you for so long that they’re going away and won’t ever be coming back. If you love someone enough, there is no amount of preparation that can help with coming to terms with a final goodbye. The person I’ve just said goodbye to was a very dear friend, a great adviser and an influence in my life. There have been huge arguments at times and periods when we have been distant but never with a finality like this. I’ve just said a final goodbye to my Dad, the one guy that I knew I could rely on and who wouldn’t let me down. My Dad died after a long battle with prostrate cancer. He ironically finished his life on much the same sort of hormone regime as many pre-op transsexuals and as a man he absolutely hated it. We had a good laugh together bout that one.
Relationships with men for a trans woman can be fraught with problems. I still can’t tell if a guy is interested in me because he likes me as a woman or because he has some interest in having sex with a T-girl. I still find it hard to trust men and their intentions. In a world like that it was great to have a man who always wanted the best for me even if he never quite understood why I needed to be his daughter and not his son.
My Dad was a Mining Engineer in the days when that was very much a ‘man’s’ profession. He loved machines, mending things, solving problems and making things work. Early in life, he worked in many dangerous situations underground and survived to tell the tale. During the 39-45 war he built diesel engines for the Navy. As a wannabe girl back in the 60’s I was very resistant to being taught anything mechanical but at least I have him to thank that I can change the wheel on my car.
Dad was ready to embrace modern technology. He learned how to use a micro-computer in his eighties, went shopping on-line and shortly before he died bought an iPod and a portable DVD player to entertain himself in his hospital bed. He watched his last movie only two night's ago; Buster Keaton’s silent movie tribute to the Civil War: ‘The General’. These days guys don’t impress me much. I take a lot of impressing having once been a reluctant male myself but Dad always impressed me, impressed and influenced me. He did what any good parent tries to do and sought to prepare me for life. It doesn’t matter that Dad had very little idea of how to prepare a son for dealing with being cast in the wrong gender. That was a path I had to find for myself.
Saying goodbye to my Dad has made me wonder about my own experiences as a father before I transitioned. I never saw myself as much of a Dad, indeed my youngest daughter seems to have seen my long years ago as a second Mom. Maybe I always compared myself to my Dad and found my own feeble attempt at fatherhood very lacking. Latterly as a daughter to my Dad and not a son, I learned the value of having my Dad complement me on my going out dress, or say I looked pretty. As a Mom I do that too with my daughters but somehow having Mom’s approval isn’t quite the same. Mom liking something usually means ‘this won’t impress boys’. All of this has left me occasionally feeling guilty about vacating a role in my children’s lives that I tried so hard to fill but failed. Looking back, it seems like my Dad ended up providing that much needed male angle in my daughter’s lives after they ‘lost’ their Dad as well as being their much loved Grandpa.
One more thing to be glad for from such a great man. So long Dad, I will miss you so very much.