It was my Dad’s 65th birthday this week. He hasn’t spoken to me in maybe a year and a half. It became clear to him a few months after coming out as trans that it wasn’t something I was willing to let him ignore, so he could continue pretending I was someone I’ve never been. I don’t know where he stands now. I’m fairly sure he wouldn’t want to speak to me if I called and I really don’t want to put either of us through that.
Both my parents have found this hard. My birthday and Christmas cards up until now have arrived with Daughter on them, and nothing written inside. Since I came out these cards also come with no gift. And the reasoning my mum gave me is “It’s hard to remember”.
Which I get. It’s two years down the line and I’m only just getting to the point where, in my mental processes, I refer automatically to myself as male – and even now, not 100% of the time. So I get it. Automatically shopping for a card that says Daughter. Bust once having made the mistake, they compound it by continuing as if that’s ok. It doesn’t really matter. It’s only says Daughter instead of Son.
No big deal. Right? Right.
It only hurts my heart to know that it’s too much hard work to say “Crap, I got that wrong, I should fix it because this is my child and it’s INCREDIBLY important to them”.
But my Dad…nothing. No contact. I can’t bring myself to make the first move because it’s hard enough to take the rejection I already have and do. I can’t bring myself to add more of that to the pile. And I don’t want to put him in the position of either saying “No.” or saying yes when he really doesn’t want to.
So I sent him a card. It’s his 65th after all, and he’s retiring this year.
I’m generally terrible at remembering birthdays and sending cards, I need reminders. I am at the moment able to afford to send a card, which is a step up from where I’ve been…every other year, so I did.
I signed the card from Lee, though, not the name he still calls me.
I doubt that helped things much, but I can’t go back to pretending.
You could say “Hey, maybe it’s easier to just let him have the daughter. You could just sign your old name and deal with it, it’s not a big deal.”
You would be wrong.
I spent my whole life pretending, and it nearly killed me. Anyone who looks can see I’m finally figuring out who I am, but he doesn’t look. It’s too much effort.
I feel bad I can’t call him. I feel bad I can’t show him the truth. I feel bad it’s his birthday and I probably just pissed him off some more. But I couldn’t write that old name in the card. I couldn’t pretend, back down, say it’s ok to keep telling me I’m not who I am. I did that for 30yrs. I can’t do it again.
I’m very aware that I’m luckier than many trans folk. I don’t need my Dad to be ok. I want him to be, but I don’t need it.
I have some amazing friends, who have worked to learn and understand and make the changes needed. I’m lucky to have them.
I’m not dependent on anyone being ok and able to accept and learn and understand. The only person I need that from is myself. That fact doesn’t make it hurt any less that I don’t mean enough to him to try.
And it doesn’t make me any less guilty that I’m not the daughter they seem to want so badly.
And yet. And yet… Dare I say there is improvement on the horizon?
I say this because my birthday is also this week, and a card from my parents arrived today. OK was addressed to “Miss”, which didn’t give me much hope.
But the card inside was for “Someone Special”. Which is a lot less painful than seeing it say “Daughter”.
And on the inside, it has both names. Lee is written above my other name, as if the other was the first written, then my mum (because that’s who has always written the cards) released, and wrote Lee just above it.
Could it be that my mum is starting to accept, if not understand, that this is something I need, and is willing to try and make the effort? Could that be a thing that’s happening?
I hope so. That would be a greater birthday present than anything else she could give me.