Requium for a holiday.
Another Father’s Day has passed and as with all holidays, the range of human experience is as diverse as the humans involved. Perhaps nothing makes Father’s Day a more awkward experience than having a trans twist. So I do not presume here to speak for all trans-parents, or even to, all those who can relate in some way to the difficulties involved. But I can’t pass on the opportunity to ruminate on the day.
Admittedly, I’m not typical of most, in ways that are quite apart from being trans. I’m as unsentimental person as you are likely to meet (in fact, one of the hoped-for effects of HRT is a bit of softening on that front). My emotional involvement with others is usually very shallow and my ability to shake off bad behavior on the part of others is well developed. So what I’m able to do in situations like this is not going to be representative of what most go through. For better or worse, the emotions hit harder for most everyone else than they do for me.
With that caveat on the table, I’m going to get to the point – I make no effort to see the man who calls himself my father on Father’s Day, or on any other occasion. I do not spurn him when he reaches out (usually, in the last several years, when he wants something) but neither do I seek his company or attention. I have not rejected him but he has, essentially, rejected me. Perhaps the relative ease with which I accept this state of affairs has to do with the fact that his position came as no surprise to me. I’ve always felt that I was a disappointment to him on almost every level, except to the extent that we were both very traditional Christians at one point. He had clues during my childhood that something was different about me and I can only speculate that this maybe had something to do with his attitude towards me. Though, on the other hand, I’m certainly not the only one who had difficulty getting along with him. All that is to say that while he has explicitly distanced himself since I came out, it’s not like it was a storybook relationship before.
It’s been over a year now since we’ve had any contact. In the four years since I told him, we have been in touch maybe 3 or 4 times (other than the occasional happenstance crossing of paths). No Christmas, birthday, Father’s Day, or anything else. And yes, I’m perfectly fine with that. One of my fundamental principles is this – I will not be found forcing my company on someone who doesn’t want me. Not if I know about the rejection. I feel no bitterness over the situation, no regret, no remorse. I respect anyone’s freedom to choose who they associate with. On the other hand, I still have two sons who have not rejected me and, as awkward as it is to wrap my head around being a woman who is still a father, their relationship to me, freely given, s vastly more valuable than pining for one that doesn’t exist.
But as I said, I’m the exception. A great many people dealing with transgender issue have suffered similar rejection and for them, the pain is raw and open no matter how long it’s been, and magnified on “special” days. It really is a shame that those who long for closeness with their family instead face naked contempt from those they love. The holiday reminds me not of my own father, but to spare a thought for those who will spend some time today crying because they love a person who’s chosen to place their biases ahead of their compassion.
Oh, and if you see my dad? Tell him his daughter said hello.
Photo by: Wade Brooks