What Kind of Man Is This?

Hi All.

I have been struggling these past couple days with some anger, due to the societal limitations placed on gender distinctions, but tipped off by my father’s reaction to my trans coming out.  I will attempt to decipher these feelings here, but I also have some exciting news to share.  So this post is two-fold.

The Good News

-Pre-op appointment scheduled on 5/23

-Surgery still on 5/25

-Post-op appointment on 5/31

We have booked plane tickets and made contact with a sweet private b and b, through airbnb, a great website to find nice places to stay while out of town, without paying for hotels.  We have used this site before, it’s totally legit, user friendly, and we have had wonderful luck there.  I highly recommend it as often you can have kitchen privileges and are given a nicer space to stay in than your run of the mill hotel.  Also, usually the places listed are way cheaper than hotels (we found many reasonable options in Cleveland for much less than even the cheapest [read: shittiest] hotels).

Things are moving along.  We are happy.  I am excited and nervous, but much more excited than nervous.

The Recent Anger

So I sent my dad the letter I posted here last week.  And he didn’t respond for a few days.  He talked to my sister and asked her all the reasonable questions: how much would it cost, was I sure about this, isn’t surgery dangerous, etc.  He cares about me, for sure, and I thought it kind of him to ask these types of questions.  I wish he would have asked me, or some other trans-educated individual.  Not to dis my sister, but she doesn’t know the answers to those questions.  I sent the letter last Thursday and he called me on Monday night.  I am okay with this lag, I wanted him to take his time, which is why he got a letter, rather than a phone call, in the first place.

He said two things:

“Well, I have loved you your whole life, I might as well keep on loving you.”

And

“You know, you could have called me, you don’t have to wait and send me an email to talk to me.”

The first thing might have been cute, or endearing, coming out of someone else’s mouth.  But coming from my dad, it is just another example of his lack of conviction.  My whole life he has done things the easy way, he “raised me the best he could” has always meant he raised me the way that was the easiest for him: whenever I really needed him, whenever my mom was too drunk for me and my little sister to be left alone with, whenever my uncles were drunk and terrorizing us, he was nowhere to be found.  But if I wanted to smoke some weed, or go out for a hike or play guitar, he was there.  He was there because those are easy things, things he liked to do.  It is easy to claim he still loves me, it is easier to say he will just keep on doing what he has been doing because loving me requires very little of him: he has never supported me in any way that would put him out, he has never been asked to do anything difficult.  So saying “I’ll just keep on keeping on” allows him  to circumvent the specifics of my surgery.  It allows him to be neither supportive nor confrontational.

When I got accepted to college I wanted him to be proud of me.  I wanted him to tell me I did good.  Instead he didn’t speak to me: he pouted because I was going to a school that was out of state.  You have “loved me this long, so [you] might as well keep doing it?”  Don’t do me any fucking favors.  I know this may sound childish, or like I’m being bratty, but I am learning not to settle: I deserved to be loved, and I deserve that love to be sincere and strong when coming from my parents.  If he can’t provide me with that kind of love, then he isn’t my father.

Oh and, “You know, you could have called me, you don’t have to wait and send me an email to talk to me.”

What can I say?  The dude just loves to complain, always has, always will.

This betrays a larger issue in my life: the complete lack of positive male role models.  My father is actually my sister’s dad; my biological father skipped town after knocking up my mom: he was 24, she was 17, and I have never met him.  And I never want to: he is a coward and I surely don’t need him.  I got a Masters degree and am loving and kind and have a wonderful partner and many good friends. I have a lot going for myself and I sure don’t need to clutter my life up with people who have no regard for my well-being.

So between my cowardly father and my selfish father, I’ve got no good male role model.  That’s a problem for a young boy.  It’s worse when you’re male only on the inside.  I would ask my dad about cars, and he would dismiss me.  Maybe he thought I wouldn’t be good at it because I was female, maybe he thought I was not being serious (I asked many times, I don’t see how that could be possible) or maybe he saw this coming, saw this trans part of me, and didn’t want to encourage my maleness.  In any event, my male identity was never acknowledged by another man.  My uncles are shit to me, always have been, and are not a viable option for any kind of positive role model.

Ugh, I look back over this and think I sound so whiny.  My life could have been much worse: I wasn’t abandoned, I wasn’t sexually abused.  But then I wonder, am I making excuses for others’ shortcomings because I am trying to exercise empathy, or is it because I was socialized as female and feel it my job to make other people more comfortable?  Is it my fucking responsibility to make excuses for the shortcomings of the men in my life?  Hell no.  So fuck that shit.

I sympathize with my dad: I have spent a great deal of time and effort searching for jobs when he was unemployed, printing out college applications, recommending local groups to get involved with when I thought he was lonely.  And for what?  He never investigated any of those jobs, never filled out a single application, never contacted any of those groups.  I don’t care if he doesn’t do what I suggest to improve his life, but he didn’t act at all.  He rarely does anything to improve his station in life, including giving his child his honest opinion on important matters.

So I got mad, really fucking mad: I, like so many others, was cheated out of having a dad, or any good male role model in my life.  All I wanted was to go camping (but dad’s car was in the shop, or he was broke, or he was lazy) or practice guitar (but if we didn’t play the songs he wanted to, then we didn’t play at all), etc. etc. etc. Enough.  I’m done giving him full access to my life when he doesn’t appreciate it.  When he doesn’t respect me enough to give me his honest opinion, or voice his legimate concerns, when I tell him I’m having surgery.

And then I started thinking about my gender, and getting all riled up about having to use the women’s locker room at the gym and not liking my pronoun options and feeling generally angry at the world for being unable to see who I really am.  But the problem is obviously this: I’m not mad at the world, I’m mad at my dad.  I want an apology I will never get, I want a do-over life with him and that is impossible.  So instead of being mad I have to let it go: I have to accept that he is not the man I wish to have as a father.  And I have to recognize I am not the girl he wished to be his child.

I have to accept the defects of our language.  I have to accept that being trans means spending a lot more time and effort figuring out my identity.  And I have to remind myself that all this pain and anger and doubt is worth the trouble.  I get the reward of living this life honestly and with no regrets.  I have to remind myself that this will pass: today I am hurt and angry, tomorrow I am excited and pleased  and two months from now I will no longer have breasts.  I will, however, still have two middle fingers.  I will retain the right to be mad: I was dealt a shit hand, born poor into a dysfunctional family.  Join the club, right?

But I don’t blame the abusers in my family, I am happy with the person I am and am becoming, and without that start (read: without those assholes) who knows what kind of person I could be right now.  And I like this anger: it reminds me I am strong and complicated and my emotions are working.  My anger tells me I have questions that need to be answered.  It is an alarm for my brain telling me something is amiss and I need to take a look at my insides and find out what is wrong.  I am fucking pissed off I didn’t get an extraordinary dad, one that could see the boy in me, despite all my defenses trying to hide him, and raise me accordingly.  So I will be that man: I will be my own dad and teach myself how to be that good man, the one that has always wanted to be acknowledged and loved.  I will love myself, and stop waiting for others to fill that spot for me.

In the book Gender Outlaws, Scott Turner-Schofield authors a short essay called The Wrong Body, and in it he states, “I knew that being born female would build a bridge to the kind of man that I wanted to become: a man unlike [my] father in every way.  Being born female makes me a man that good men may look to for ways to understand and honor women, a person that people may look to for ways to find and appreciate themselves.”  I have to stop being disappointed with my father, that he is a disappointment is not news.  I want to start being the kind of man he never could be.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

18 thoughts on “What Kind of Man Is This?

    • Yeah, without knowing you too much, I thought it might resonate with you, because so much of what you write resonates with me. Your most recent post about your brother, for example. I’m glad there are men in the world like him. And I am glad there are men in the world like you.

  1. I recently fell upon your blog…okay so divine intervention cased a typo in the search block a hyper sonic techno engines blasted it on my screen. The results of which have been transforming, life altering, revealing, uplifting, and over flowing with salvation. i have read every one of your post and at the least I can say “Thank you”. Thank you for sharing you life, your thoughts, and your experience. I no longer feel alone in my own life, my own experience that no one seems to understand. Throwing yourself out there has and does make a difference.

    Brysen

    • Brysen,

      Your response encouraged a lump in my throat. Thank you for your kind words. I am so pleased to be of help to others in our varying gender positions, and so glad you stumbled upon me.

      So many blogs have been of similar help to me, and I hope you seek more out. See my post “blog brothers” for examples.

      Keep your head up, friend.
      -Eli

  2. A wonderfully written, calm post which deals with such emotional baggage; other peoples not yours. Its amazing to read trans peoples blogs, so many rational eloquent thoughts from such a small community.
    Not to take away from the power of your post but when I told my father I was actually a woman inside his only response was ” at least your not gay”. Shocking.
    I am enjoying reading through your blog, thanks.
    Juno

    • Thanks for your compliments Juno. I’m glad you enjoy the blog.

      As far as your father’s response–it reminds me of the Iranian government’s approach to trans and gay issues, lumping them into one–the gov’t pays for SRS and thus claims “homosexuality is a western ‘problem'” and that there are no gay Iranians because they just have SRS. Strange, then, that homosexuality is a capital offense there.

      How blasé and sloppy people are when confusing sexual identity and orientation. They don’t feel the need to examine these two different aspects of their own identity, so they lump them together for others.

  3. Brilliant read. Simply brilliant. I like watching your brain work, as it helps mine to follow suit! First of all, congratulations on the Good News!

    Now to business… dads. Sigh. Mine is exactly the same (except I’m still in the same house, looking forward to moving out next year). EXACTLY the same. And my head has been running through the same kind of thinking. Since it’s either sarcasm, ambivalence or moaning with him, whenever the conversation gets Below Surface Level, I figured it’s not worth the bother trying to deal with him or change his thinking, instead coming to the same conclusion as you have here. Except… without the excellent wording. Very good logic, and not whiny at all; just a fair response, as far as I’m concerned.

    Oh, and I LOVED the “I will, however, still have two middle fingers”.
    I’ll stop typing now.
    -JC

    • J.C.

      Thank you for your kind words. As a member of these treasonous colonies, I do appreciate the Brits’ use of the word “brilliant,” especially when applied to my writing. 😉

      Dads are tough to accept, especially when their daughters begin asserting their maleness. Dads don’t like to acknowledge their daughters might have been their sons all along. It is hard for them to look at a girl and treat them like a boy. Of course, this is true for most parents, moms and dads both I presume, but I had a good experience with my mom when I told her I was trans.

      Being reliant on the parents when you still live with them is tough, especially so when you are trying to assert your own budding identity, trans or not. I am glad you are so close to being out on your own!

      Enjoy this time you have left in the house with them–as you will never get it back. So you want to be able to look back on this time and say to yourself, “sure, dad could be a dick sometimes, but while I was with him and mom, I did enjoy the good things about living with them.”

      Good luck to you, J.C. I am glad we have “met.”

      -Eli

      • Thank you – as am I!

        You make too many good points to address in my current sleep-deprived state, but rest assured that I will continue to check in frequently for more snippets of your wisdom! 🙂

        -JC

  4. At 42, I’m at an impass. I myself was my fathers son/daughter. He not unlike others, had no idea how to relate, nor did my mother. I was abused by my father as a child and my mother hid from his alcoholism and his abuse of others in religion, forcing my sisters and I to follow suit. Decades of therapy and “two middle fingers” (thanks for the loan, lol!) have healed most of the damage and trauma. due to the religous fear, and all around fear of rejection, I lived in hiding of being gay until I was 30. Living in hiding sucked. I wasn’t just “not out” I was not out, not dating, not involved, and filling my life with my career to avoid facing what I was missing.
    Here I am at 42. I am once again tired of hiding. I’m a masculine lesbian that is niether male nor female within but as so eloquently put recently…some where in between,…and I like it. It is who I have been my whole life and he/she/we are dying/living to get out. I don’t consider myself trans, but I don’t like my chest as well. I’m totally cool with the bottom bits ( Your terminology cracks me up) but I am NOT good with my name. I have started calling myself Brysen and have mentioned changing my name to one of my friends and my twin sister, I’m not sure what to do. I feel like it’s the right thing for me, but who changes their entire name at 42. I live in good ole conservative southwest Florida, and for the first time I went out as myself today. Unshaven legs in shorts, unshaven armpits in t-shirt, my handsome short boy hair styled, and armed with anxiety I greeted the world with a smile. Thankfully I was in turn greeted with a smile.
    At this point I’m at an impass of what to do for me. Change my name? live out loud? Let go and be honest of who I am? Any and all advise, relation, experience, suggestions would be sooooooo appreciated. From any and all brothers/sisters at arms.

  5. Pete,

    I realized after reading this and the post about the use of boy/girl rather than man/woman, that in coming out as trans you get to have an adolescence of sorts even as a grown up. Which is awesome. I cannot, obviously, be your dad, but I can help you be a titty-staring teenage boy if you want. I hope you’re well.

    Pete

      • Pete,

        I wonder, did me being the “older” brother (despite you being four years older than me) arise out of the fact that you had not had an adolescence in your own gender? Or was it simply that it was more fun to have you be the younger Pete because you’re shorter than me and it perplexed Janeva? It is a great mystery to me.

        Tig Ol’ Bitties,
        Pete

      • Dear Petey Mc TIgs,

        Excelent question, brother. For me, you were the older brother because you were bigger than me physically, and yes, I did enjoy that it wound up Janeva.

        But also, you were the older brother because we were “playing” boys, and you were the authentic boy in my head. Although I now see I was (am) an authentic male, too, problem was I was born with girl parts, and thus never treated as the male I saw myself as.

        You were the socialized male, I was the undercover one: you had more practice being read as male, I had more practice being male, without being seen as male.

        In short, I was the little one because I was the unseen male, you were the seen one.

        Boobily,
        Little Pete

      • I like to think that I always treated you as a boy. I came across this from Steinbeck’s East of Eden this afternoon:

        “My sister Mary did not want to be a girl. It was a misfortune she could not get used to. She was an athlete, a marble player, a pitcher of one-o’-cat, and the trappings of a girl inhibited her. Of course this was long before the compensations for being a girl were apparent to her.

        “Just as we knew that somewhere on our bodies, probably under the arm, there was a button which if pressed just right would permit us to fly, so Mary had worked out a magic for herself to changer her over into a tough little boy she wanted to be. If she went to sleep in a magical position, knees crooked just right, head at a magical angle, fingers all crossed one over the other, in the morning she would be a boy. Every night she tried to find exactly the right combination, but she never could. I used to help her cross her fingers like shiplap.”

  6. Pingback: Retrospect | My Life Without Tits

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