I couldn't ask for a more supportive mother. Many trans people have been disowned or struggled for acceptance. I thought I'd share the story of how I came out to her... or rather how I had a really odd "reverse coming out". The whole issue of coming out and family acceptance/rejection needs a deeper dive which I very much want to do in a future episode, but this is more of a "positive story" / "positive outcome" I'd like to share. Also stick around at the end for a bonus music track.
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As I record this, it is mother's day. So first things first, I want to say happy mother's day, mom. I know you're listening 'cuz I know you're my biggest fan. Unfortunately, for many trans people, that relationship is not so good. Some have even been disowned. It's complicated. You're listening to transgressive a podcast about gender identity, LGBTQIA and social justice issues . So let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time. Not long after my 18th birthday, I got all dressed up in girl mode and went to a psychiatrist's office. I will spare you the details, but suffice to say that after a few sessions, I walked out of his office with a prescription for estrodiol. Although my day-to-day life, I was still presenting as male. I had taken the first steps toward realizing my transition concomitant with this. I had begun going to the gender clinic in my region and beginning the process of evaluations with them. Okay. So that bit of background just sort of let that sit there and we'll come back to it in a bit, as I mentioned, this was 1988 and trans people were not nearly so widely known or understood. It was a phenomenon that was relegated somewhat to certain fictional stories, and also to daytime TV shows like Phil Donahue and Sally Jesse Raphael. You could pretty much write down everything. The average person knew about trans people on a single postcard size paper. As somebody who was participating in an active support group for trans people. I had heard many stories of folks losing pretty much everyone in their life who cared about them when they would come out and just be rejected wholesale on the spot. That's not to say that some people didn't have wonderful relationships with their families, but it was a real dice roll. And so I was mentally preparing for the possibility that I would pretty much have to burn my life down, but I would have to face the very real possibility that I would be completely and utterly on my own. I had always had a good relationship with my mom, but so did other folks who had been absolutely disowned. So, as I said, at this time, I was still presenting male . My hair was very long and I was kind of growing my fingernails longer, but I kept my trans status very much secret from everyone, except for those in my support group and my helping. So one day I come home and my mom is sitting down in the dining room at the table and says, I need to talk with you. I am sure many people in their lives have had that "I need to talk with you" kind of interaction with their moms. And you know, it's almost never any good: you're in trouble... Something's wrong. So I'm thinking something happened to my sister or who knows? The very last thing I expected was for her to sit down, look me in the eye and say, are you transsexual? A word of note here? The word t ranssexual was in common use at the time. It has been supplanted by sort of the more general term transgender, but it wasn't a slur. It was a term at the time that was applicable. Needless to say, I had that sort of feeling that one gets when the bottom of their stomach suddenly drops out. And yeah, it was like a roller coaster , but I had been dreading bringing this conversation up and here it was pretty much, she was "reverse coming out" at me. Point blank. Are you trans? I had of course, rehearsed in my head many times how I was going to come out and I had just been a bit too chicken to actually sit her down and do it. So as I struggled to collect my thoughts, my mom paused and reassured me. She said, I want you to know no matter what I love you. So I did manage to recover those sorts of thoughts side had and the practicing for my speech for coming out, and I related to her, the feelings I'd had since childhood and how I realized this was not a choice; this was something I had to do. At some point, I stopped and I said, "I really want to know, how did you know?" I explained about how I had been working up the courage to come out, but thought that I was doing a pretty good job of hiding things. So my mom pulls out some paperwork from the insurance company. See, I was kind of young and naive and I hadn't realized that my mom would actually receive paperwork from the insurance company showing visits to a psychiatrist and also prescriptions for estrodiol . She said that she was alarmed by this. And she had asked her gynecologist what this all might mean. He recommended that perhaps if she were to go and see a psychologist who specialized in gender, that perhaps it would help her understand better or give her some perspective. So she managed to go and get an appointment to see the psychologist that was with the gender clinic that I was going to, of course, due to patient confidentiality. He was not about to confirm or deny whether I was a patient or not, but he did take the time to explain to her what transsexual. And again, I use this term because that was the term at the time what transsexual people were and what it meant. And he had offered that if she had a talk with me and it turned out that I confirmed it or was willing that he would certainly be willing to have an appointment together so that we could talk through things, if it would be helpful. So that's how I ended up in a joint session with the gender clinic psychologist and my mom and me. And we talked about what my transition would mean and why it was important to me. We only ever had that one joint session, but she was able to ask a lot of her questions of a helping professional who understood. And I think hearing it from him really helped her. I am also willing to bet that in his entire lengthy career of treating hundreds upon hundreds of trans people, this was probably a unique experience. My mom, the detective. So, as I transitioned, my mom was very accepting. She struggled a little bit with the pronouns at first, but not at all out of malice, but just out of having to get used to it. As my transition progressed and I began presenting female full time , it was just easier and easier for her to see me as female. Interestingly, she got my pronouns and my name, correct while we were talking together. And when we would go out places without too much trouble at all, however, when she would talk about me in the past, she had a difficult time code switching. She had a difficult time switching pronouns, but she didn't want to mis-gender me. So she had these very awkward speech patterns where she would say my name properly, but she would not use pronouns at all. It was weird. It was awkward, but it was the language of love. It was her best attempt to accept me as her daughter. It was a few years ago that I was talking with my mom on the phone as I do fairly regularly. And she was thinking about some event that had happened back in my childhood and she stopped. And she said that she realized that she had just completely flipped all of her memories around. And that basically she said, I can't even see you as anything, but my daughter, she said you are and always have been my daughter. That means more to me than I can possibly ever hope to say or encompass with mere words. I love you.Speaker 2:
Our website is www.transgressive.net. You can reach out to [email protected] We can also be reached at Twitter @transgressive21. Please consider a five star review on your favorite podcast platform. I'm Tananda, and this was transgressive.Tananda:
Normally, I'd fade out the music about now, but I was having a bad patch a few years back and my mom would call and leave me voicemails every day. Even if I didn't respond just to let me know, she cared and weirdly when in February, 2019, the Mars Rover gave its final message of battery's low and it's getting dark. I thought of that time and of those messages. I wrote this song for my mom. And I'd like to share it with you now. Song URL: https://soundcloud.com/user-787981713/batteries-low