I think I just broke up with my dad

By , May 26, 2010 11:55 pm

Oh Daffy. He gets so close to understanding where he goes wrong. And then, inevitably, he ends up getting shot in the face.

Just about ten years ago, I came out to my parents. For a long time, that didn’t really mean anything: no changes, no transitioning, just them having the knowledge that I’m trans.

About three years ago, I started on hormones and mark that as the general beginning of my actual transition. While I spent about a year presenting as male some of the time and female some of the time, both of my parents knew I was transitioning and (at some point during that “in between” year)  I had a chat with both of them about wanting to be called Rebecca, and referred to with feminine pronouns.

Last night, my dad – who is attempting to help me with some insurance stuff from having my gallbladder removed – called to ask my about my social security number. “It’s still under [male name], right?”

I paused, surprised he would even ask such a question. “No, I went to the social security office and had it changed.”

“Oh. But do you have a new card?”

Frustrated, I told him, “Yes. A new card. With Rebecca on it. Sitting on my desk at home. Same social security number, different name.”

“Oh, OK.”

It wasn’t until reflecting on the conversation that I realized how upset it made me. After ten years of being out to him, does he not understand how important this is to me? It wasn’t that he wanted to double-check about the name associated social security number. I could understand if he said, “I just wanted to double check that your social security number is under Rebecca now.” Or even, “Hey, what name is on your social security card these days?” I might be a little annoyed, but not really upset or hurt. But the way he did phrase it, assuming it wasn’t important enough to have gotten changed, really made me feel like he still, after all these years, is just as clueless as he was when I came out to him.

He’s the only person in my life who still constantly slips up with names or pronouns. No matter how feminine I make my presentation, no matter who we’re with, it’s a regular stream of “he” and “his” and “him,” not to mention my old name. He does surprise me sometimes, but he usually just upsets me when we talk about anything substantial.

So, later in the evening, I called him back. I told him that he had really hurt me by assuming I hadn’t changed the name on my social security card. That it hurts me every time he uses ‘he’ or slips up on my name. That I have no doubt he loves me as his child, but am really unconvinced he loves me as his daughter. That I love him, and always will, but can only have him in my life if he affords me the same respect everyone else in my life does.

He tried to turn it around, to say he hoped I didn’t make the choice of removing him from his life.

“No,” I said, “This isn’t about my choice. This is about your choice to not respect my identity. You don’t get to make this about my “choice.””

“But I’m trying,” he insisted.

“After ten years of being out to you, and three years of transitioning, ‘trying’ simply isn’t good enough any more. I hope you’ll be able to see that, and be able to continue to be a part of my life.”

And then I hung up on him.

I really hope he does get his act together. I offered to find him resources, suggest therapists, and give him places to find support.

But I’m not holding my breath. And he’s the one who know has to make the first move.

17 Responses to “I think I just broke up with my dad”

  1. TeenMommy says:

    I’m sorry. That sounds incredibly hard, and yet I’m proud of you for standing your ground and not letting him turn it into you choosing to cut him out as opposed to him choosing not to work on his toxic actions.

  2. RadDyke says:

    This post is going to be saved in an innocuously named folder on my computer. Of stuff that motivates me to keep doing what I need to do. I’m waiting until I’m at least half done with my last year of college (next year) before I come out as queer to my parents, because I know I’ll have that same conversation….and well, mine won’t ever end in that phone call.
    I hope you get it. I really, truely do. Your strength is admirable.

  3. RMJ says:

    This is heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Juliana says:

    *hugs* I really hope your dad will soon come to understand what he’s been doing wrong. You’ve handled this in a courageous, responsible, adult manner– hopefully he can begin to do the same.

  5. violet says:

    Yow, that’s some heavy stuff. I hope he starts succeeding, instead of just “trying”.

  6. Candace says:

    Rebecca, I cannot imagine how difficult it was to put that out there to him, but I am so crazy proud of you for doing it. It seems like this was crazy past due. I’m just some random person from out in the universe, but I have all these warm fuzzy feelings of solidarity for you.

  7. beo_shaffer says:

    *hugs* I hope you can work something out.

  8. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for the well-wishings, everyone. As my most recent post showed, this is all kind of hitting me harder than I expected. (Though everything looks worse at 2AM.) But I really appreciate all your support.

  9. As someone that has had a difficult relationship over the years with her parents, I can only imagine how frustrating this must be. But do keep something in mind.. he’s a man. They often (not all men) just get tunnel vision, don’t think about how little things like this really eat at another person. From your story it doesnt’ sound like he’s being mean or malicious, to me it doesn’t even sound like he’s beening thoughtless. It just sounds like he’s being.. well.. a MAN. They can be such a PITA at times. LOL. And becaus this stuff is bugging you and grating on your nerves, then well, that makes you a real woman, heh… don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. ;)

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks for the comment, Lana. I absolutely agree – he’s not being malicious, and I have no doubt he loves me, but he’s being really thoughtless. And, unfortunately, I’m kind of at the end of my rope and unable to deal with it anymore.

      I’ve been trying to resist saying, “Ugh, men!” but I’ll say it anyway: Ugh, men!

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  11. Frankly I’m impressed you put up with that kind of treatment as long as you did. My best friend’s parents are still screwing up her name and pronouns as of somewhere between 1 and 2 years after her coming out and four months of hormones, and both of us already consider it a completely intolerable and unforgivable thing (although she, still being in high school and living at home, can’t really do anything about it).

    You must have a virtually limitless capacity for patience and forgiveness to endure that kind of crap for so long. I’d personally draw the line at a year — a year since first requesting the proper name and pronouns be used — and I consider myself lenient.

    • Rebecca says:

      Heh – thanks. I don’t consider myself particularly patient. Rather, I try to remember the good things my parents have done for me when weighing the bad. =/

      • While I understand that, I personally tend to feel that people are best judged by their most grievous active transgressions. To me, what really matters is not the kindness someone has given before, but the cruelty and disrespect they are perpetuating now.

        That’s all in theory, though. In practice, confronted with someone you care about who has helped you before and is stupidly hurting you now, it’s hard to be sure what response is really appropriate or even possible.

  12. Molly says:

    I think one of the things we forget about our transitions, is it’s also a transition for those we love. I try to remember that when I have scuffs with my parents. My mom has been very accepting, and was even introducing me as her daughter when we went out for Mother’s Day. My dad is a different story. I’m taking his general lack of anger as a form of acceptance. I don’t think he’ll ever use my name or female pronouns for me. He’ll still get the annual cards for his birthday. Father’s Day and that other holiday in December. I hope your relationship with your dad turns out better.

    • Rebecca says:

      You’re absolutely right that there’s also a transition for those around the one who is actually “transitioning.” And it’s kind of unfair for me to decide when my dad’s transition needs to be over, but I’ve simply run out of patience with him. =/

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