As of yesterday, my parents have left town. I’m happy they came, and in the end their visit allowed me to reach an important understanding with them.
Because of my work schedule and my lack of available space in the apartment, they spent most of their time here at my sister’s house; and on the days I saw them it was almost always with the kids in tow. So it wasn’t until Wedmesday, their last day here, that I was able to get them aside, alone, and talk directly about what’s going on with my transition.
As I’ve mentioned before, my mother has been living under this comfortable fiction that my “coming out” meant years of therapy before I “did anything.” It was reinforced in the beginning of this conversation, where she spent a fair amount of time pressing me on the “are you sure?” angle — that is, “Are you sure this is transgender and not just something else like low testosterone?” She was apparently worried (a fear stoked by my sister, not surprising) that my therapists were somehow influencing me, or just taking me at my word and not exploring if this was definitely, DEFINITELY a transgender thing. She didn’t say it, but I could almost hear the subtext: “What if you could be cured?”
This is exactly the sort of thing I thought she was holding out hope for these past few months. So I disabused her of the notion; explained to her how it took me twenty years to come to this conclusion, how for awhile I thought it was a sexual fetish, then a crossdressing thing, and then only in the last six months or so accepted it for what it was. It’s new to her, but it’s not new to me! She wasn’t angry about it. Just worrisome. My mother is a professional worrier.
I had made the decision prior to the conversation that I would hold nothing back from her, so I didn’t. I told her about how going out female is an “opportunistic” thing at this point. I told her that I was writing for Skeptoid under my new name. I told her that I’d started electrolysis. I told her about my one-year plan and my desire to attend Gen Con 2014 as full time woman, and that it would probably mean I was part-time woman in life by then (male at work, female at home). I assured her that I wouldn’t be transitioning on the job for quite some time.
While she had concerns about each of these, it didn’t get in the way of the broader message: that she and my dad support me in my decision, even if it will be hard for them to process as it happens.
My father was in the room the whole time, but he didn’t speak much, except for a single time. At one point he started telling the story of a man he knew back in the 1980s, “a time when something like this was really weird,” who had transitioned. This woman was an autoworker at the same plant my dad worked in, and she kept doing her job after the change. “I’d never heard of it before, and it didn’t bother me, I just went on doing my job,” he said. Which is about as close as my father was going to come to saying “I’m going to be okay with this” out loud.
As a final point, I told them the name I’d chosen. I had never told them before, but if I was going to come totally clean with them than I had to tell them. “Better you start getting used to it now than on the day I ask you to make the change,” I said. I think learning the name unsettled my mother a bit; it drove home the point that I was going to change, that I wasn’t going to be her son anymore.
We ate dinner after that, and played with the kids, and there was no real tension in the room. I’ve talked to her online since she left, and I’m happy to say that I do feel more comfortable talking to her in general, and even about things concerning my transition.
All things told, I’m one of the lucky ones. So far, no one in my family has given me a bad reaction to all this. Granted, only my parents and sisters know, but I’ll take what I can get.