Let’s call this the pre-Black Friday, two-for-one Blog post.
So, remember my Dad from earlier? He kind of needed some explanation a couple days ago; he was way too successful at pretending he was OK. He and Mom and I had a talk. It occurs to me that what was said there might be good to have out in the open.
I started with the basics- it isn’t about XX or XY. Science figured out in the last 2 decades it’s WAY more complicated than that. Not only are there multiple combinations beyond those 2, it’s not even about those chromosomes in some cases. Allele pairs on the chromosomes control the release of testosterone at different times in development that set not just primary, but also secondary and even tertiary sex characteristics- this was discovered almost on accident by autism researchers. Then there are all the genes they’ve isolated that seem to have the power to totally override the chromosome pairs (SRY, WNT4, RSPO1). We can’t just assume that this set of bits = this chromosome pair anymore, and even if we know the chromosome pair, it doesn’t really tell us anything all the time. Science kept going after we all finished school and it turns out (like so many other things), what we were told is wrong.
But this is my Dad. He needs to know how it affects me. I told him how unhappy I’ve been my whole life, how out of place and wrong I’ve always felt, and how hard it has been my whole life to control the rage that’s always there. And I cracked and the tears started when I told him about the time that so many of you have heard from me already, working on fixing a computer (after I had started herbal testosterone blockers) and breaking down in tears when I realized I was sent the wrong part*. I wasn’t throwing it across the room. I wasn’t breaking the ailing laptop over my knee. I wasn’t slamming my fists into the table. I was crying. And it felt SO. GOOD. when I realized that I wasn’t angry anymore. I wasn’t furious at the littlest things. I was at peace. My body is not designed for testosterone. It can’t handle it. It doesn’t belong here.
I pointed out to him all the ways I was not “male”. I’ve always been more comfortable around other women. I’ve always tended towards expressions that weren’t “mainstream masculine”. My voice never really dropped. It was always hard for me to put on muscle mass. My skin has always been comparatively softer than most men’s. He saw all that.
“It’s just hard”, he said, “because the world is changing and I’m from a different time.”
Maybe, I said, you could see it from another angle. Be glad I’m alive now and not, say, this age in the 1960s, with even less societal support. Be happy I am in a place and time where I was more easily able to figure it out and set about to addressing it. Be happy I can find my happiness. Be happy it didn’t take me 90+ years like the WW2 vet who recently came out.
His retort to my mother’s and my examples (since he thinks in these terms) of the “not very male” parts of me is to counter with more “male” (in his mind) things.
“She was never an athlete like you”, says Mom.
“Kind of was”, he said.
“Dad, I joined the swim team to hang out with girls in bathing suits every day after school.”
“No, no, wait, you played hockey with us”, he offers.
“Girls play hockey, Dad. Like my sister, who also played with us.”
“Not in my day”, he grumbles, half-heartedly and somewhat defeated.
My Dad is still trying to move beyond what I had to move beyond- the idea that this is something shameful, embarrassing, or wrong. It’s none of those things. It’s a fact of my biology. For some reason, not everything came together chemically as it should have for me. There was probably either too much testosterone at this time or too little at another. Either way, the specifics of the root of it are irrelevant. I know now. I can address it. I can’t change my brain and endocrine system and all the other things that are out of balance. But I can fix the chemicals. I can push down the ones that cause problems and bump up the ones that make me normal. That’s the thing, I think. Being trans isn’t abnormal. My normal is just a little different. If your system is compatible with your normal, that’s great. My system is a little wonky. I’mma fix it now.
Make no mistake, as much as he’s struggling, my Dad has made it very clear that he loves me and accepts me and is trying to come to terms with all this. I may not be his daughter in his head yet, but I am his child. Nothing can change that to him.
* Ok, on first pass edit I notice this is really funny- “sent the wrong part”!!! Totally unintentional; keeping it in bc it’s comedy gold. Also, WordPress needs a footnote system.