My Parents and My Dysphoria

This last year has been the first time that I’ve had so little contact with my parents. I’ve seen them quite a few times, we talk on the phone regularly, but prior to now they were a much more constant part of my life. It was rare for me to go a week without seeing at least one of them.

I’ve been realizing just how much of my dysphoria has been caused by them. It’s sad, painful, and a bit confusing.

My parents have never had an easy time with me being transgender. My dad wanted to, pretended to, but he didn’t- and in pretending to, he never faced the discomfort and worked past it to reach full acceptance. Behind my back, he uses the wrong pronouns and names and makes it very clear that he regards me as a confused woman. My mom is actually reaching closer to full acceptance now. When I’m not in the room, she uses the right pronouns and even calls me my child’s dad. Unfortunately, she’s incredibly stubborn and refuses to let me know that I’ve “won”. It’s a complicated relationship.

Because of my parents, I pushed myself to “prove” my gender. I presented as masculine as possible. I felt like I needed to take hormones (fortunately that didn’t pan out). I legally changed my name to an unambiguously male name. I got a bilateral mastectomy. Perhaps if I took hormones, fully transitioned, it’d be the final push they’d need to fully realize their child isn’t a woman- but it’s possible that it’s not.

That isn’t who I am, though. It never has been. I’ve always had a strong feminine side- but more in a drag queen sense. (I actually really would like to become a drag queen and have done drag performances) It’s a nice occasional performance, but I find it exhausting to pull off full time. The presentation I’m most drawn to is quite androgynous, some feminine aspects, some masculine aspects, but with my body it reads as female. I have to push far away from my preference to be read as male.

I’m non-binary. I’m not a man, I’m not a woman. I don’t have a space to occupy in this society. And I’m realizing that I don’t need a space in the full society, I just need small safe spaces. I need the people closest to me to know and accept. Right now, my home is a safe space for me. My identity is fully accepted. And for that, I’m comfortable wearing the clothes that I’m fully comfortable in, dressing the way that makes me happy rather than the way that will prove my gender.

My dysphoria was incredibly painful for me. I was non-functional, I could barely leave the house. And I don’t truly have any answers. I don’t know for certain that if my parents had been fully able to accept their quirky kid, I would’ve been happy and comfortable. I will never know if I would’ve been able to find a way to be comfortable with my chest if I’d been able to have an open, honest, gender-aware discussion about bras and proper support with someone.

But there’s a very real possibility, and that’s incredibly painful to me.

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2 Responses to My Parents and My Dysphoria

  1. “I’m (non-binary). I’m not a man, I’m not a woman. I don’t have a space to occupy in this society. And I’m realizing that I don’t need a space in the full society, I just need small safe spaces. I need the people closest to me to know and accept.”

    It is weird that even “non-binary” falls under the Trans* umbrella upon the gender binary.
    Weird. Weird. Weird.

    Society isn’t safe for anyone, everyone needs a small safe space–with lovers, with friends, with community. You considering home to be a safe place is phenomenal, and I relate with your words so very much.

    Parents, however, no matter what person, will always be able to infantilize their children. It’s hard to see a child as anything but what parents have had while raising one.
    Regardless of pronouns and names and misunderstandings, they love you, and they’re trying. Parents too, are afraid of society, and their niche safe zone is comfortable. What you’re dealing with, taking society head on, it’s hard for anyone to wrap their head around because they don’t face it daily.
    Stay strong.

    You’re courageous, and people are listening.
    I hear your words.
    I hear you.

    • MySapling says:

      “It is weird that even “non-binary” falls under the Trans* umbrella upon the gender binary.”

      I’m not sure what you mean by that. If you mean the “cis/trans” binary- even that is more of a spectrum. There are a lot of people who feel they don’t fit into either or have a foot in both worlds. While parents with gender-non-conforming kids hastily insisting “Yes, my son identifies as a girl- but he’s not trans!” gets my hackles up, there are a lot of people who’d fit into the trans umbrella on paper, but in reality aren’t comfortable there. There are very few true binaries in nature- pretty much everything is a spectrum. And an umbrella is just that- an umbrella. Genderqueer, non-binary, cross dresser, drag, a lot of different things fit under it.

      And I do understand why things are hard for parents- but it’s frustrating and infuriating that their hang-ups caused so many problems for me. Some of my problems ARE things my parents faced daily. I got a disorder from my mother that she refused to face she had, so refused to face I had, so I had to trudge along without any help. Parents are adults who have the maturity and tools to handle issues. Children do not. It’s the parents’ perogative to get over themselves and do what’s right for their kids.

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