Mom is coming to visit.
I moved to the East Coast from the Midwest last September and haven’t seen my mom since then. She is coming for 5 days, and I’m excited to see her. It can be exhausting hosting a guest for a full week, but my mom is pretty low maintenance: she is happy to watch movies or go for a walk, window-shopping, whatever.
The thing is, well, we haven’t talked about the whole trans/top surgery thing. I mean, it’s not like she has never met me. I do wear my gender on my cut-off sleeve. And remember that wishing well story? Remember when I told her I was gay and she said she knew? She said she has known since I was five. She overheard me at the East China Inn making a wish that day. But I didn’t only wish for Cinderella that day, I wished to be Prince Charming. Yeah, she gets the whole gay thing, but I don’t think this trans thing will be a complete surprise, either.
It should also be known that I am constantly underestimating my loved ones; perhaps because I am so quick to expect the worst in any given situation. My mom obviously loves me very much, and I love her, but we are very good at avoiding the important topics: my gender, her alcoholism. I hope while she’s here we can chip at both of these topics just a little, hope we can look at them, even if it’s only out of the corner of our eyes.
Part of my reticence to tell her about the surgery is that it’s not as easy as “mom, I’m a man.”* It’s “mom, I want to have a man top and a girl bottom.” She has heard of transgender people, but this queer gender business is utterly foreign to her. I know, I have to be** the one to enlighten her, get to** explain it to her. The thing is, I don’t really know how. And that tells me maybe now is not the right time to broach the topic. I just want to make sure I’m avoiding telling her for the right reasons (I’m not ready to) and not the wrong reasons (I’m scared to).
What is your advice for telling parents about top surgery, especially if you don’t fall into a recognizable gender category?
Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli
*And of course I recognize that is never an easy sentence to utter. But you see where I’m going with this: it’s not about the transgender issue, it’s about the genderqueer issue.
**I know, it’s not that I have to burden myself with this responsibility, it’s that I get the opportunity to enlighten my mom. It’s about “getting to,” not “having to.”