Tagged: childhood

Card-Carrying Transsexual

I am post-transition. It now seems rather impossible that I was once viewed as a girl. In the steady rhythm of a daily life in which dysphoria casts no shadow, things start to seem very solid, real, definitive, sensible. Of course I am a man.

And now I feel a strange, subtle weight upon my shoulders, something most unfamiliar: legitimacy. I am the legitimate transsexual, if you’ll permit such a paradox. Here I am: thoroughly, obviously male, confusing no one; comfortably masculine and heterosexual; expert-tested and little old lady-approved. I am the kind of transsexual you can take home for dinner: invisible.

Now that I have arrived on the far shore, shapeshifted once and ceased shifting, it all seems obvious, credible, inevitable. My transition, because it appears so complete, so, dare I say, natural, colors my whole life, past/present/future. The strangest bit is the way transition rewrites the past.

Two levels here. One, I appreciate: my secret truth, the burden I carried, is no longer my silent curse. Instead it is an open fact, and my retelling of my childhood now reflects that. As it should be. I didn’t grow up a girl; I grew up a masculine, gender-nonconforming kid deeply confused by the world’s insistence that I was a girl. The secret subjective has been brought forward.

The other level: very strange: the “true transsexual” narrative has been bequeathed to me, an inheritance, like a consolation prize from society. Now it appears that I always knew I was a trans man, that the signs were indisputable, that it was all very straightforward. I appear to fit the all-important narrative, the only story they’ve allowed us.

Hiroshige, Travelers surprised by sudden rain. Source.

I first realized this was happening when my counselor wrote me a letter for top surgery. She helpfully explained that I had a stable male identity from the age of 3. True trans narrative jackpot! I laughed out loud when I read it, because it is, well…not false, but not exactly true, either.

What I told her was that I lived under a strange fog of unhappiness from the time I was in preschool; that I had a deep, foreboding sense that I was not like other people; that I had a vague awareness that I was somehow a failure of a girl; and that, in retrospect, I can trace my many years of childhood unhappiness to gender dysphoria. But that’s a bit fuzzy and hard to explain. She cleaned my life up for me.

Missing were my desperate bids for girlhood, my deeply meaningful experience of living as a butch, my stubborn suspicion of the gender system, the subtle, spiritual quality of my masculinity, the dance, the very dance itself, the essence of all of it. Poof, gone. Replaced with a reassuring and convenient story. No more mystery. Like it was all obvious from the start. Nothing to see here, folks.

I am grateful–she knew the letter was a bullshit requirement for surgery, and she wanted to ensure I got what I needed. But how strange, how damn strange, to see the narrative reproduced and imposed in real time.

The narrative is not for our benefit. It helps the cis majority sleep at night. If I could have once appeared to be a girl, and today be so clearly a man, what the fuck does that say about the reality of gender? What does–what might–that say about other people’s genders? This is a terrifying prospect for those who’ve lived their whole lives in the security of the gated city. Better to smooth things over, keep it simple, say it was always clear, like anyone could’ve taken one look at me and spotted one of those people. That way, no one else has to worry about themselves, their loved ones, their children; no one need contemplate that horror of horrors, one of us in their own midst. Perhaps under their own roof, sleeping in their bed, in their own skin.

Sometimes the narrative divides us. I now experience the weight of legitimacy in my interactions with other trans people, in person and online. People early in transition, people questioning their genders, people who don’t seem to fit the narrow narrative for whatever reason, sometimes seem to regard me with wonderment or adopt a slight crouch of defensiveness. Sometimes it seems like I am the real deal, a card-carrying certified transsexual, and other people might be amazed (“How do I get that?”) or irritated (“Conformist.”) or afraid (“Am I real enough?”).

It’s a surreal experience, because I have been to all those places. I have been completely certain that I could never fit the narrow transsexual mold. I have believed that I would never change my body because of my feminist principles, and felt a strange mix of envy and betrayal towards those who do. I have felt awkward, ambiguous and afraid in the presence of post-transition men, as if witnessing some grand achievement. I have been sure I would never be one of them, and wanted to be one them, and not wanted to be. I have jumped through the gatekeeping hoops to get the care I needed. I have lied and oversimplified my story to professionals to ensure access. I have said, “I can’t be transsexual because…” I have said I would always identify as queer, stopped considering myself queer at all, and starting calling myself queer again. I have lived in the badlands between the sexes. I have transitioned. I have moved through the world in the form of a man. I have been the same person all along.

So let it be said: I am a card-carrying true transsexual, and I don’t fit the narrative, either. I played with Legos and I played with baby dolls; I dressed up in my father’s clothing and I dressed up as a princess; I kissed girls and I kissed boys; I struggled mightily with my gender identity; I never thought I would actually transition, or that it would all fit together so perfectly. I tried to express what I was feeling, but it took me many, many years to find the words say it.

I always knew I was trans, and I had no idea at all. The narrative can only be true after the fact.

Legitimacy doesn’t love you, respect you, or make you whole. Legitimacy provides a minimum of safety. Legitimacy is a raincoat. If you’re getting soaked, cover yourself up, if you can. Don’t mistake access to rain-gear for your own essential worthiness, for your right to live, for who you are.

And when the weather changes, take the raincoat off again.

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Trapped In The Wrong Childhood

If I could have, I would have given you the body that you wanted.

So my mother told me, wincing sadly, in the first year of my transition. It was sweet of her to say; her intentions were good; and I didn’t miss the pained note of guilt, as if she ought to somehow have controlled this.

And yet the sentiment entirely missed the point. First, I have never blamed my mother for the fact that I’m trans, and I never would. God made me this way, and she had no say in the matter, or she surely would have made me different. Indeed she said as much: she wished she could have given me “the body that I wanted,” or as I would put it, the body that my mind and soul expected. In other words, she would have made me cisgender.

That’s not what I wanted from her, or from life, or what I’m hurt with her for. I wanted her to give me the right childhood. To recognize her trans son when he was still a boy, and to love him for it; to not wait for me to fight it out and tell her; to know somehow, and to raise me that way.

I do firmly believe I was created this way. I don’t regret being trans. It is my struggle, my uniqueness, my gift. Most importantly, it is my real life. This is the experience: to be gender-variant, to be different from other people, one of the strange ones, queer, to change my body to manifest my soul. We have always existed, and I think we are on purpose.

What’s not on purpose is the silence, violence, and rejection. That is human error. Deep in prayer on a recent occasion, I saw with clarity what it means that God made me like this. Like this: this body, this soul. Not what the world did with it. That wasn’t part of the plan.

I don’t want to be cisgender. I want to be loved.

 

Right Body, Wrong Culture

“I think of transexuality as a kind of birth defect.”

So do I. I was born into the wrong culture.

— Riki Wilchins, from “17 Things You Don’t Say To A Transexual,” Read My Lips

Dysphoria came first and fiercest as the sense that something was wrong with me. Something was terribly, fundamentally wrong with me, and it would never be put right. The feeling was vague and confused, yet vast, pervading everything. I didn’t know what was wrong, exactly, but I knew it was very, very bad. It seemed to be my fault, though I had never intended to cause it. It had something to do with the future, with world of adult relationships. I knew that I would never marry a man; the idea was absurd. Would I marry a woman? Would anyone ever want me? I did not know. I had a deep, gnawing fear that I would never have children. I wanted to, desperately, but it seemed extremely unlikely. I remember trying to comfort myself, Most people have kids, right? I wanted so badly to fix myself, solve the problem, grow up right, be worthwhile. I didn’t want to be a boy, per se. I wanted to be normal. I wanted to be like everybody else.

When did the burden materialize? I have no recollection, and I suspect it is as old as I am. It was a strict taboo in my family. It wasn’t til many years later that my parents acknowledged I had always been masculine, that they knew something was going on with me, though didn’t guess what. My masculinity went unacknowledged like toilet paper stuck to somebody’s shoe. Embarrassing. I think my parents thought it would crush me to point it out–they felt a need to insist I was normal and adequate as a girl. But I just wasn’t, and that was far too obvious to miss. So instead of knowing I was masculine, I knew myself as a failure. Everything came so easily to everybody else, but all I tried to do came out crooked.

What was I supposed to make of it? I had been given no words, no examples, no stories, no chance. Occasional snippets caught from grown-up television gave intimations of freaks, wholly alien kinds of people, pathetic in doomed quests to be what they are not. “Men in dresses,” etc. I vaguely related to Joan of Arc and figured I’d missed the boat by a couple of centuries. I could only see myself as an abject failure, utterly hopeless, a doomed hybrid in a world of opposites.

Since no one ever acknowledged it, I thought I might be the only one who realized what I was. Here is where things really went to shit. Seeing myself as a freak and failure, and with everyone else pretending nothing was wrong, I learned it was my job–my most important job–to keep the secret. To fake it, to act like it wasn’t happening, to pretend to be a girl. They were pretending in an insane extremely misguided* attempt to protect my feelings; I was pretending in a desperate bid to spare theirs, to spare myself the look on their faces when they realized what had happened, who I really was. I was suffocated by the burden of their hopes for me–hopes I could never fulfill. I learned to lie by example. [*Thanks to captainglittertoes for raising concerns about my use of the word “insane” in this post.]

The damage of that denial runs deep, deeper even than the gender issues that sparked it. I have grown up into a man; my whole family accepts me. Yet I still suspect I am not worthwhile. The bullshit habit has its own momentum. Sometimes I can observe myself swallowing a thought or emotion, recoiling from love in fear and mistrust. I struggle to release my stranglehold on the same old shit. I get good grades to be good enough; I am impeccably polite to be good enough; I mentally berate myself to be good enough. I was so afraid of disappointing my parents, but maybe I was disappointed with myself all along.

I remember my depression and rage as a child. I didn’t want this life. Strange. It seemed at once so fair, so unchosen–yet I blamed myself completely, believed I could fix it, be different.

I am so sick of carrying the belief that it’s all my fault. It’s not my fault. My body and soul were simply given, and then badly mishandled by an idiot culture and well-meaning young adults who knew very little about the world. And there is nothing wrong with me.

I know this. I’m still trying to feel it.

If guilt is hell, what is its opposite?

— A Course In Miracles

Trans Legitimacy & Childhood Memory

Somebody recently found this blog searching for answers to the following question.

how can i be transgender if i don’t remember much from my childhood?

The question jumped out at me, a familiar confusion. Answers immediately began to bubble up in my mind. I thought I would share them in case they could be of help to anyone who’s wondering about this.

How can you be transgender if you don’t remember much from your childhood? Being trans is something you are now. If you experience gender dysphoria now, if you just can’t fit into the role of your assigned gender now, if you know yourself to be some other gender now–you are probably trans.

There is still a powerful narrative in our community that says some trans people are “real” while others are… what? Illegitimate? Imaginary? Imposters? The truth is, there are no true and false transsexuals. There are just transsexuals. Another other trans people. And cis people.

This narrative is a relic of the gatekeepers, cisgender “experts” who policed (and sometimes still police) our access to life-saving care. They policed us based on how (un)comfortable we made them. People who seemed likely to fit invisibly into cisheteronormative society were allowed to live. People who didn’t were left to die.

One of their favorite games was scrutinizing our childhood memories. They believed that “real” trans people are only those exceptional, precocious few who, before the age of 5, are able to cast off the weight of a whole society and proclaim their true gender for all to hear, in language that makes sense to adults. Those who didn’t–or didn’t remember–such dramatic, perfectly-worded proclamations were, again, left to die. This standard is strange and cruel and shows a reckless disregard for child development.

We don’t have to live and die like that. We can be more humane to ourselves than these death-doctors were, and indeed, we must.

So again, how can you be trans if you don’t remember much from your childhood? Easily. Their is no age requirement determining the value of an insight. Whether you were able to articulate your gender at 5, 15, 50 or 100 does not matter. You were taught that your existence is impossible. Cut yourself some slack.

That said, I suspect there is a deeper connection between being trans and this lack of memory. It is possible that you’ve got it backwards. It’s not that the fact you don’t remember much from childhood means you aren’t really trans; it’s that you don’t remember much precisely because you are trans, and a great violence was done to your psyche. As you continue on your path, you may find yourself remembering a great deal more than you thought.

Obsessions Observed

As a kid, I obsessively repeated number sequences in my mind. 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2. 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2… If I failed to repeat the pattern–the right numbers, in the right order, at the right time–my mother would die.

At 5, I knew she would die in a fire; at 6, I knew she would be shot. At 8, I knew she would be killed be a drunk driver, and at 9, I knew she would get cancer. I became especially consumed by this terrible false foresight when she went out at night. I begged her to take me along to meetings and choir practice, convinced that if I were there, she wouldn’t die. Or at least you would die too, a part of me whispered.

I have struggled with anxiety for as long as I remember. I now recognize it as OCD, which runs in my family. I am worming my way out from under the thumb of these fevered preoccupations.

The same pattern has followed me in a dizzying variety of forms, both subtle and overt. In the most obvious and painful form, I believe that my mind can cause or prevent a loved one’s death.  I recognize the pattern by two telltale signs:

  1. The thought states or implies that my mind can somehow influence external events and/or predict the future. If I think about something bad, it will happen; or else, just as often, if I don’t worry, it will happen.
  2. I am fixated on an imagined disaster . There is little evidence that this event will actually occur.

The delusion is so obviously false, and the fixation so clearly misguided, it is hard to believe I fall for it over and over again. But mine is a clever and persistent monster. I talk myself out of wild improbabilities, only to talk myself into new fears, ever so slightly more plausible. The shape-shifting apparitions of my mother’s death–fire, gun, car accident, cancer–chronicle the obsession’s development over time.

I want to be free of my father’s disease. I have loosened and loosened its grip; I have reach levels of calm I never thought possible. Transition, medication, and meditation have done me worlds and worlds of good. These days, my moods are upbeat and steady. People remark on my peaceful demeanor, a compliment that always surprises me. Still, again and again, I get caught in its cold fingers, and I find myself with a knot in my stomach, gasping for air, when absolutely nothing is wrong. I never want to feel that melancholy panic again.

Its disguises are manifold, but the root is the same. My mind ceaselessly sets about attacking problems, always making plans and calculations, hedging bets, setting goals. Like a loyal dog, my mind sniffs out possible problems and goes about solving them. There is nothing wrong with this–it’s useful. But my poor little mind, always wandering through worries, returns again and again to one problem, the Problem of Problems, a nauseating truth it cannot solve.

My mind has been trying to outsmart death. Temporariness is the wall I’ve been banging my head against. My mind hits it and gets stuck in an endless loop of magical thinking, like a scratched CD stuttering, like a crashing computer.

When I can observe this, a warm glow overflows from my heart. It is the light of love for myself, for the good old dog that is my mind, bound to try, doomed to fail.

It’s okay, boy. You just can’t solve this one.

הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים אָמַר קֹהֶלֶת הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים הַכֹּל הָבֶל

Mist of mists, said Kohelet. Mist of mists, all is mist.

Ecclesiastes 1:2

Every Piece Of Chalk

Feeling numb to experience is caused by the false perception that you are caught in the wrong experience, as in if a predicament. This perception is caused in turn by the false belief that you need to pursue experience. You do not need to pursue experience. You are experience.

J. Jennifer Matthews, Radically Condensed Instructions for Being Just as You Are

Old hurts beckoned me and I went to them, searching the subterranean labyrinths of my heart. The memories come broken, twisting toward wholeness. I unlock their secret meanings and let them fly away. I have the sensation I am getting to the bottom of something. Age 12, staring hard at my face in the mirror, thinking, “When will I look like myself?” Unable to picture how that self might look. I think of myself as a depressed, insecure teenager, an overwhelmed 9-year-old. I think of myself now, a man with a transsexual body. I realize that for my whole life, my greatest dream has always been to be normal, to live a normal life. It seemed so out of reach. Then I get to the core of it, to the single thought that has tormented me so long. I’m not how I’m supposed to be. Sudden tears warm against my cheeks. Then, sudden laughter. It’s only what I know all over again. I am trans. To be trans is to know in your bones that something is very wrong–that somehow you were supposed to be different.

Everything is wrong, and nothing is. This is the truth of the experience–to remember the mistake over and over. I laughed then, giddy with freedom. I’m still trans; that’s all. In that moment a few weeks ago, I felt I had finally accepted it.

What is truth for the transgender person? The truth is we are really and truly trans. We’re weren’t supposed to be different. We are the ones who walk across/between genders. That is one journey our spirits make in this life.

Spiritual questions related to the artifice of the ego or self speak directly to the trans experience. But which self is false? As transsexual people we can get caught between competing false selves. We are haunted by twin ghosts: the cisgender son or daughter we were asked or forced to be, and the cisgender girl or boy we wanted to be instead.

The truth is that neither is us. We are real, and we really are trans.

I had a strange thought. Make no sense of it; it is a spiritual truth that defies ordinary logic. I thought, God must have really loved me to have made me trans. In that moment, I felt my transness as a beautiful gift from the eternal, an endless kiss, a point of encounter, the memory of wholeness, intimacy itself. It is no better and no worse than any other kiss. It is only the particular kiss that we receive, we few who meet life at this unusual angle. In some strange way, being trans is how I know I exist, since everywhere I go, there I am, trans again.

When I was small, whenever I broke a piece of chalk–a common occurrence that greatly distressed me–my dad would make it whole again. He would take the two pieces, hold them together, get very quiet, and then hand me back a whole piece of chalk. By some sleight of hand, he’d pocketed the shorter piece; I accepted the longer half as the whole thing. A whole piece of chalk.

Of course, it is a whole piece of chalk. Every piece of chalk is a whole piece of chalk. And goddammit, I am a whole piece of chalk too.

Parallax

רְאֵה אֶת מַעֲשֵׂה הָאֱלֹהִים כִּי מִי יוּכַל לְתַקֵּן אֵת אֲשֶׁר עִוְּתוֹ

Awareness knocks my mind blank. I drop into the moment, single and crystalline. It really is right now. It’s summertime. I am a barefoot child, long, messy hair falling across my face. I am running down a hallway, my little brother just in front of me. I am holding a baby hedgehog with both hands. I feel the soft fur of its belly, the whirring of its heart. I see the honey-brown curls that crown my brother’s head. I see my knees, skinned and dirty. I see my dirty fingernails, the shiny black eyes and wiggling nose of the hedgehog, its tiny quills, hundreds of them, sharp and perfectly formed.

This moment stands out in my memory, a few seconds of total lucidity. An open-eyed glimpse of life in all its absurdity, endlessly given, invaluable.

The other night, standing in my kitchen, talking to my friends, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the truth that they are real. Really real, with whole internal worlds just like mine. Of course I always knew that, but I haven’t always felt it. We are more like adjacent branches than self-contained individuals, the same life-force animating us all.

When I was a kid I used to think that other people were robots. Literal robots. Or maybe phantoms. I was convinced that at any moment, someone was going to show up and tell me it was all one big, horrible joke. Or maybe they’d tell me I was in hell.

In the summertime, mirage pools formed on the hot asphalt, glimmering mirrors that disappear as you approach them. I wanted to fall into one, to jump through it into the sky of some world on the other side.

I was nine years old when I began really losing touch with my body. I remember looking from my arms to my thighs, arms to thighs, trying to solve the riddle. Something was very wrong. My legs were the wrong shape. There was an constant crookedness to the world in those days, like wearing someone else’s glasses.

There are almost no pictures of me smiling between the ages of 10 and 20. I used to cringe at the pictures; now I chuckle. As weird as it is to see myself dressed as a girl, I am not erased in these images. My discomfort could not be more clear.

These days I am learning to fully inhabit my body. Sometimes I sit naked and very still, just breathing, trying to experience my own form. I could never have done this years ago–too painful. Now all that remains of that heartache are a few scars on my arms and an echo of unbelief, uneasiness. I still feel a disconnect–a parallax. I squint, trying to see myself as I am. I look at my belly, my legs, my arms. Olive skin, fish-belly white on the parts of my body that don’t see much sun. Brown hair growing everywhere like desert grass. My penis looks like a little animal that might live on a coral reef. This is a thoroughly personal accounting of my physical self, divorced from all attempts to present my body for another’s gaze. No comparison to any drawing in a textbook. No measuring tape. No tyranny of memory. I think of people with phantom limb syndrome, whose pain is eased by mirrors that allow them to, say, see an image of their right hand where the left should be. I don’t need any mirrors–I just have to believe what I see.

See the work of God: Who can straighten what He has made crooked?

Ecclesiastes 7:13

“This is who I am now.”

Another dream that has stuck with me over the years. I was 7 or 8 then. In the dream, it was evening, and I was at home. A person came into the house. They looked like my mother, by they had a shaved head and were wearing a red flannel shirt. I was frightened and confused; I ran to the person, and they held me in their arms. I was crying. “This is who I am now,” the person said.

A few years later, my mom came out as a lesbian, and my parents got divorced. I chalked the dream up to a premonition about what my mom was going through.

Something didn’t sit right with me, though. As I grew up and started addressing my own gender and sexuality issues, it bugged me even more. What did it mean, and what did it have to do with my own identity? Did my mom’s sexuality somehow confuse me about gender? I didn’t think so, but the dream seemed to imply otherwise.

Last night, the dream came to mind again. I suddenly saw its true meaning. My mom never started wearing men’s clothes or acting masculine; she is comfortable as a woman. The person in my dream, I now see, looks exactly like me around age 19. That androgynous figure was never my mother–he was me. He came with a message I wasn’t ready to hear yet.

I even own that red flannel shirt.

On Irises & Ugly Ducklings

My mother taught me the names of flowers. Wandering through her garden, they come unbidden, like fragments of songs I’ve almost forgotten. Crocus, iris, hyacinth. I say the words and then second-guess them, I think that’s what it’s called. I look them up; they’re never wrong.

On the radio I heard about a man who taught his young daughter the names of all the colors, but never mentioned the color of the sky. When he asked her what color the sky is, she wasn’t sure how to answer. White? Blue? She settled on blue, but it took awhile.

Language shapes reality, mediating not only what is know, but what can be known. Closer to us than skin, language is a lens, directing our focus.

Nobody taught me the words for myself. I learned them, a second language. They will never be self-evident like the words I learned in childhood. A hyacinth just is a hyacinth, the distance between name and named minute. I can go years without saying the word, yet it is always there, ready. But the words for myself, for my body, I struggle to pronounce like contorted transliterations. They don’t roll off my tongue.

After dinner this weekend, my mother laughingly mentioned my first therapist, who I saw when I was five or six, who we haven’t talked about in years. I feel we share an awareness of the obvious cause of my childhood troubles, but I can’t be sure–it’s unspoken.

There is no love in my heart! My mother crooned in a singsong whimper, imitating things I told the therapist. I winced and tried to laugh, unsure if she noticed my discomfort. I think she wanted us to laugh about it together, to make it funny, to make it okay–absolution. I was taught to think of my childhood depression as humorous, slightly ridiculous. These days I can’t remember what was so goddamn funny about a five-year old who says “There is no love in my heart” and “I wish I had never been born.”

Recently I told my fiancee the story of the ugly duckling. She said she didn’t know it. My voice trembled as I told her of the awkward baby duck who looked like no one else and had no friends. I couldn’t keep from crying when the ugly duckling at last transformed into a beautiful swan.

I suddenly perceived the desperate hope I’d hung on that cygnet in a picture book. A saltwater mixture of hope and despair had pooled in my heart and stayed there. I carried those tears for twenty years, until I could no longer carry them. I was that hideous duckling–but in real life, I thought then, no one ever turns into a swan. It was a mute grief, failure a foregone conclusion. I had a double secret: I was destined to be someone, and I would never be him.

On the last point, of course, I was wrong.

Forgiving My Parents

“He was always so… Manly.”

These were the words I’d been waiting to hear my whole life. Said by the person I’d always wanted to say them. Unfortunately, when my mother finally spoke those words, I wasn’t there to hear it. I was a hundred yards away and under general anesthesia.

My girlfriend, now fiancée, was the one who heard them. She told me later, back in our hotel room. While my chest was being reconstructed, the two women in my life had gotten to know each other better.

Alma and I had only been together for six months. It seemed perfectly natural she’d accompany us to Cleveland to help take care of me after my surgery. My mom cooked; Alma cleaned my drains full of blood and pus. Her tender care and steel stomach made quite an impression on both my mother and me.

While I was in surgery, Alma was overcome with worry. True to form, my mother tried to feed her. And she told her things about me–some she’d told me before, and some she never had.

Things I already knew: That there was always something different about me. That they’d been really worried about me and were relieved I was doing so well since starting transition.

Things I didn’t know: That she noticed I was masculine from the time I was a tiny child. That I always had a masculine look. Square jaw, muscular limbs, broad shoulders. She said I looked like a little linebacker. She said she knew there was something there, and it seems so obvious now–but at the time, she just didn’t connect the dots. Remorse ran off her voice, rainwater in a gutter.

It was a great gift to get this information, no matter how indirectly. Some thunderstorm in my heart finally went quiet, a temper tantrum I’d been waging for twenty years resolved at last. Like when the heater turns off and you’re suddenly aware it had been humming in your head for hours. Like the first day you wake up feeling better from the flu. You remember what it’s like to feel good.

Then I understood why she’d never told me. My parents bit their tongues on the very words I needed to hear the most. They thought those words would crush me. They thought they’d be calling me ugly. Now they know they were wrong.

They had probably never met a transgender person. They’d certainly never been parents before. This year I’ll be as old as my father was when I was born.

I forgive them.