Category: family

Thanks, mom and dad

By , February 20, 2012 11:46 pm

My parents aren’t perfect. I doubt any are. And, yet, I feel pretty lucky to have them. I’ve talked about my coming out experience, and how – even though my parents responded with love – I wish they had responded to my coming out with understanding. With the knowledge to say, “Yup. And this is what we do about that.” I wish there had been things like summer camps for trans youth, or conferences for their families, or books for parents, or any of the things that have really come to light in the last decade or so. At the same time, I feel lucky and fortunate to have the parents I do.

I was reminded about this when my mom sent me a link to a Chicago Tribune article titled Study: Family ties cut suicide rate for LGBT youth. In fact, my parents responded on a similar script to what the article suggests:

[One of the study authors] said parents can make a difference. It’s important parents respond with love and acceptance from the moment their child tells them he or she is gay, and that’s true even if parents need time to process the information.

“You can say something like: ‘I’m glad you shared that with me and I love you no matter what. This is new for me and I have to think about it, but I want you to know that I loved you before you told me and I love you now,'” he said.

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In defense of awkwardness

By , February 8, 2012 2:16 pm

When my brother graduated from college, I was just finishing my freshman year at Northwestern. With one or two exceptions, I was closeted to most of my college friends. (Or is it “closeted with?” ACT tutoring is messing with my head. What’s the proper idiom?) My first major negative experience with a therapist – the one who told me I “probably wasn’t trans” – had scared me away from seeking medical or therapeutic help in figuring out my trans identity. I was still figuring a lot of things out, something which is probably true for most college freshmen.

A moment of my visit to my brother’s graduation sticks out in memory, and still occasionally gets me ribbed by family members. We were at a restaurant in town, my family and I, celebrating my brother’s impending  graduation. People were ordering drinks, and someone (probably my dad) made it clear I could have an alcoholic drink, too, should I so desire. So while everyone around me ordered beer or wine, I ordered a rum and coke.

Looking back, the reason I did it (and the reason my family finds it funny) is because I didn’t understand that there was a difference between beer or wine and mixed drinks. So while I probably could have ordered beer or wine without incident, ordering a rum and coke was cause for conversation.

Remembering all this still makes me a little embarrassed, because I hate not knowing how to behave. A big part of my transition has involved figuring out how to behave, how to present, how to interact, how to identify. And a big part of my hesitation around transitioning stemmed from not wanting to feel like I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t know how to do something, not wanting to feel like I didn’t understand. Continue reading 'In defense of awkwardness'»

Therapissed off

By , June 21, 2010 5:03 pm

A phrenology chartLate last week, I had a session with the doctor who is prescribing my citalopram. It’s only the second time I’ve seen him, and he’s a nice guy. However, he’s (self-admittedly) ignorant of trans issues, so I’ve had to do more explaining and defining in sessions with him than with Laura, my primary therapist.

I was telling him about my frustrations with my dad, and explaining how his use of the wrong names and pronouns really hurts me. The doctor’s response was, basically, “So?”

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When are feelings not valid?

By , June 5, 2010 10:56 pm

A little early, I know

I had brunch with my dad this morning, following our recent issues. Going to brunch was definitely the right thing to do, but I don’t know that I’m happy I went. I certainly don’t feel any better.

We basically talked in circles for an hour. I attempted, once again, to explain why and how his behavior was hurtful for me. Even though I don’t doubt that he loves me, the way we interact still causes me a lot of pain.

And, over and over, he repeated his favorite refrains: “I can’t change what I feel. My feelings are just as valid as yours. You’re asking me to change over night. I had a son for 23 years. I’m trying.”

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An apology and an explanation

By , June 3, 2010 11:15 am

Just sent this email to my dad.


I owe you an apology. I’m sorry I hung up on you last week – it was immature and unfair to you. It’s impossible to have a conversation when one party is no longer on the line.

That said, I’m not sorry I brought up how I’ve been feeling, even though I expressed myself really poorly. I need you to know that it hurts to be called “kid” and “child,” when I know you’re doing so to avoid gendered pronouns. It’s hurts, a lot, to hear you slip up and refer to me as “he” or my old name. I have no doubt that you love me. But like I said, I think you love me as your child and I want – desperately, painfully – for you to love me as your daughter.

But my frustration over how we communicate goes deeper than names and pronouns, and I need you to know that, too. I love you. I see so much of you in myself: my humor, my attentiveness to detail, my love of knowledge and education (and gadgets). So it’s all the more painful when I feel like we’re talking past each other, something that seems to be happening more and more.

When we talk, I feel like we’re having different conversations. You’ll ask a question, and before I’m half-finished answering it you’ll have asked another. It makes me feel like a client (or, worse, an opposing witness) rather than someone you love and care about. Or I’ll ask about how you perceived Billy Elliot’s father – whether he resonated with you – and be absolutely baffled when you say, “No, that wasn’t my experience.”

Than what was your experience? What is your experience? Because, from where I’m sitting, I feel like you’re ashamed of me. Or embarrassed. Awkward and unsure how to interact, torn between loving me and wanting to be done with whatever conversation or interaction we’re in.

So that’s why I hung up on you. I shouldn’t have, and I’m sorry I did, but I become so flustered and so hurt when we talk, that I lashed out.

I love you, even when you frustrate the hell out of me

Hospital Stay performance video

By , June 2, 2010 9:14 pm

Here’s the video is the adaptation I ended up using of this post. Enjoy!

Oh father of mine

By , May 29, 2010 9:04 pm

I'm not convinced my father could carry me on his shoulders these days...

Earlier this week, I asked my mom to call my dad. I hate having her act as an intermediary between the two of us, but I wanted to figure out what – if anything – he’d be doing about my hospital bills and insurance since my telling him off. He’s been speaking with the “risk management” department at the first ER I visited, because when I finally got my gallbladder out they strongly implied the first ER should have caught the gallstones.

So my mom called my dad. She said she’d thought things out beforehand, and opened by asking him, “Rebecca asked me to talk to you about the insurance situation, and if you need to return any of the paperwork to her.” (My mom knew he didn’t, as I’d provided him with copies, but wasn’t sure how to say “So are you continuing to help your daughter while refusing to speak to her, or not?” without sound like she was judging him. Which she was, but didn’t want to sound like it.) He replied, “Nope. She’s fine to speak to the hospital herself,” and said goodbye.

Continue reading 'Oh father of mine'»

And yet…

By , May 27, 2010 2:57 am

I miss my daddy. I haven’t called him that in twenty years, but that’s who I miss: The man who lifted me on his shoulders, explored forests and streams with me, played shark in the lake. The man for whom I had no doubt of his love.

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.

Continue reading 'I think I just broke up with my dad'»

Asserting identity in the hospital

By , May 18, 2010 10:03 am

I’ll be performing this Friday at Queertopia at 8PM at Winston’s Cafe, 5001 N Clark, in Chicago. Tickets are $5 for students, $7 for everyone else, and the event is 21+. Below is the script I’m working on for the show.

Pantomime of a morning routine: Brushing teeth, washing face, plucking eyebrows, putting on foundation, eyeshadow, eyeliner, blush, lipstick. Clothing. Earrings. Then pantomime undoing everything, disrobing, and makeup wipes to remove everything (‘rinse and repeat’) and begin again.

While going through the routine the second (and subsequent) times: I’ve been in the hospital twice in as many months, after having stayed gloriously out of the hospital for years. Both times, I was admitted to the ER with severe abdominal pain, something that has been plaguing me every 6-8 weeks for the last year or so.  The pain usually went away after a few hours, so though I’d almost gone to the ER a number of times, I’d always felt better before actually making the trip.

The first time I went to the ER , in early April, I was admitted at about 3AM. My roommate drove me to Swedish Covenant, on Foster, and they quickly admitted me – the waiting room was pretty empty. I stress about going to the hospital for all the usual reasons, but also because I’m trans: Any nurse or doctor or administrator could make my life very difficult because what’s between my legs doesn’t match most people’s concept of what “should” be there.

Within the first 30 minutes of my visit, I’d had to out myself multiple times, to multiple nurses and doctors: “I’m on Allegra. For allergies. And 100mg daily Sprionolactone, 100mg daily Prometrem, and 10mg daily Estrodial. Because I’m transgender – I’m on hormone replacement therapy.”

Continue reading 'Asserting identity in the hospital'»

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