Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Pulled Thread

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?

Robyn Jane



  1. Family is just a random bunch of people thrown together.

    If some of them are third rate human beings walk away, life is too short.

  2. Listen to Caroline. As much as it might seem that way, it cannot be that a dysfunctional family is the result of your revelations. If anything, it may be the other way, but too late to worry about that, isn't it?

    It is hard to believe some think we would choose to be trans.

    Get through this sad day, then, as Caroline says, walk away and find your real family.

  3. It’s ironic that those who chose to judge, seek justification of their prejudice by suggesting that they speak on behalf of others. They seek to deflect their own small minded bigotry by projecting it elsewhere - not even having the courage to stand by their own words.
    I was struck by your thoughtfulness in writing that letter in the midst of your grief. How very sad that you were repaid with heartless and uncaring comments.
    Its been a rubbish time for you of late but I hope that you don’t dwell on his comments. Who we are is not a choice but living honestly and happily is a choice, leaving behind the people who are not worthy of our attention.
    I hope that the days to come are not too hard for you and you can look back to the happy times with your father - and remember the support he gave to you, his daughter.

  4. I've spent so long in therapy and nobody has helped as much as you Caroline, Becca and Halle with your current comments. Thank you so much. Thanks for your good wishes and most of all for much valued support., really and truly.