As the saying goes, "As one transitions, those around them transition as well." I am reminded of this fairly frequently, but more-so this week. My mom and sister have been struggling with my transition.
My mother and sister still live in the Northwest Ohio area. I told them of my transition and being transgender at different times. I came out to my sister back in April 2014. I came out to my mom later that year. I have struggled with my gender identity my whole life. My mom was vaguely aware of this struggle in my early years. Eventually, I was put in therapy when I was 14 years old to address what was going on with me. My parents really did not know why I was dressing and going out in public. They thought I was acting out. That I was engaging in risky behavior. But they did not understand or know what it was. I did not know what it was either.
After a year or so of therapy, my therapy ended and was considered "successful". Successful in helping me repress my true gender identity and successful in fooling everyone that I was "normal". Whatever "normal" is. So fast forward 30 years. My father passed away a year and a half ago. My mom is struggling with his death and all of the ramifications of that. And she is struggling with my transition. Not just coming to terms with it. But also trying to understand how this could happen. Naturally as a concerned parent, she is looking back trying to understand how she missed this. She is also trying to fill in her history with the story of my experience.
This past week, she has struggled with the coming "death" of my male gender and what that means to her. Getting used to having a new daughter and no longer a son. Does she call me by my female name? Or my male name? I told her to call me whatever she felt comfortable calling me. That it was okay and natural and that she needed time to get used to this. My hope is that eventually it will be difficult to call me her son. But I understand that to her, I am her only boy. She was concerned that I would demand that she refer to me as a daughter and that it was going to take her time getting used to it. I told her that as long as someone's intentions were not malicious that I wouldn't be upset if someone misgendered me or forgot to call me by my female name.
My sister is having the same difficulty with having a sister versus brother. The sense of loss is very real. Even though I am the same person, in this very bigendered world, we wrap our identities in our gender roles. Those around us interact based on how we present ourselves and are perceived. This is more-so the case in a close knit family. And when we no longer act or present in a way that represents our gender roles since birth, this is considered an act of rebellion, an affront to "normal" people who consider this "abnormal". How people deal with this, depends partly on them and their relationship with me.
Regardless, my expectations are the same. I expect to be treated with respect and expect to be accepted without understanding. My word taken at face value. Yet, I will cut everyone some slack. My transition will take time for people to adjust to. Some more than others. I have been struggling with my gender identity for 40 years. If it takes people some time to adjust and get used to it, not having that experience, it is totally understandable.
Everyone take care. I hope that everyone has had a wonderful week.