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.”
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.