I am still unable to write a full account of a terrible experience I had over a period of about a month early this year. Every time I try, I end up sobbing. I have decided that I am over being sad, but I do want to say something about it. Yes, it is relevant to being trans.
All you need to know is that I was asked by my biological family to come and help out during a crisis. This involved me traveling about 1,500 miles and staying for weeks. I went hoping to repair some severe strains in our relationship.
Instead I discovered how much I am resented, how much hostility there is towards me, and how they have no interest in the real me. I was no more than a convenience because I was the only person they could find willing to come.
I was there for a month and not once in that time did anyone ask me how I spent my time. Not once did anyone ask me about my hopes or my fears or whether I had anyone special in my life.
I made a number of attempts to tell them about my life now, but they made it clear they weren’t interested in the least.
Much of the hostility directed at me was rooted, I believe, in my inability back in the day to function as a father, to fill that role. Unlike some of my sisters who learned to do passable impersonations of men, I was never able to pull it off. I am far too passive, too diffident, too girly. I let down my kids because they needed someone strong and masculine and protective. I failed to protect them. I failed them utterly. That will haunt me for the rest of my life.
Often the hostility erupted into drawn-out episodes of sarcasm and rage. It was horrible. The visit was a miserable experience for everyone. Even if you are the person discharging long-held resentments and anger rather than the target of it, the experience is hardly pleasant.
After I got back, I had a session with my psychologist. Transgender people have made up a significant fraction of her clients since the 1990’s. She told me that she has heard variations of this story many times.
Transgender people are usually so desperate for acceptance, for being forgiven for being unable to be the person that someone needed, that we are willing to go to extraordinary lengths for our biological families.
It doesn’t work. No matter what you try to do, people who aren’t going to accept you just aren’t going to accept you.
Your adult children are not going to forgive you for not being the parent they needed so badly. That ship, as they say, has sailed.
However, they may be all too willing to use you as an exploitable resource, as a mere convenience, to vent their frustration and rage and resentment on you, and then contemptuously toss you away when you are no longer required.
I won’t make the mistake of trusting them again. I don’t dare. And that breaks my heart.