September 15, 2011

In which my father suddenly appears!

(I'm stepping on Dan's toes a bit, since his life is enviably ordinary whereas I'm totally flipping out, so make sure you read his post too!)

So lately, I've had pneumonia. Since I also have severe asthma, it's pretty much been the definition of awful. For one thing I can't bind, since I'm having enough trouble avoiding asphyxiation as it is. For another, I can't... do anything. At all. Awkward: asking your ex to do your laundry and empty your trash because your room smells and you have no clean underwear.

More awkward: complaining about this to your mother, and having her immediately book a ticket for your father to come nurse you back to health.

You guys, he's arriving tonight. At 11:41pm.

So I guess I can't put off the how-did-your-parents-take-it conversation any longer, huh? My mom's reaction, when I finally saw her in person a couple months post-letter, was that she couldn't stand to watch me mutilate myself like that, and she wasn't sure she ever wanted to look at me again. And anyway, I never liked cars or sports so I obviously wasn't a boy.

After three weeks of looking at me, she said she'd done some research and found out that more than half of trans people are estranged from their parents, and she doesn't want that to happen. So I should consider not being trans. But maybe after a decade we could get lunch.

But she also insisted that if I ever really, really needed help, I could always come home. Not help recovering from top surgery or anything, I'll have to find someone else if I want company convalescing, but I don't have to starve to death on the streets. So I do think she'll come around. I also think it will take a decade. It took six years for her to get from "you should consider not being a lesbian" to "have you been going to the LGBT center? It would be nice if you met someone."

My dad on the other hand wasn't interested in a showdown when I saw him this summer - until he suddenly showed up the night before I flew home. He seemed to think a decade was too long a timeline, and was surprised when I said I wasn't under the impression I was invited to Christmas. But then he asked me not to tell my brothers, and proceeded to tell a story about a coworker-of-a-coworker who transitioned from male to female, and... did not lose her job or her wife. I couldn't figure out why he considered it a cautionary tale, except that he used male pronouns the whole time and claimed that the receptionists felt weird finding a non-receptionist in the women's bathroom. (It was a CompSci department in the 80s.)

But... he did indeed get me an invitation to Christmas, and to Thanksgiving. And even though he's never really been the parent I talk to, he's also never been the parent I fight with.

When I came out as a lesbian he gave me a hilarious lecture about how no boy would ever date me again, and then he... let it be. My mom read my diary, read my email, snuck into my girlfriend's house; she woke me up to cry on my bed several nights a week; at one point she actually informed me that my girlfriend and I had broken up, and forbade me to see her. My dad... once drove me to a date.

So I want to be optimistic. But that's long-term! What the hell am I going to do with him here??

It says Lawrence Evalyn on my door decoration! Every person I interact with on campus will call me Lawrence! The composites on the wall have a hilarious serious of photos in which my hair gets shorter every year, and then suddenly my name is Lawrence and I'm wearing a tie! He's going to help me unpack and organize my stuff - he'll find my suit and ties! He'll find my pride flag! He won't find the condoms, I figure it's normal to hide those so I made my ex take them after the laundry-incident that spurred this whole mess. (Ditto the sex toys.) He'll find my trans T-shirts! He'll find my binding shirts! He'll find my queer fridge magnets, and I don't even know where those are so I can't hide them!

It's mostly a moot point, since the whole reason he's coming is that I barely have the physical strength to bend over and pick things up, let alone relocate a bunch of stuff to, I guess, a box in a friend's room. But my ex has been very helpful.

I don't plan to correct him when he uses the wrong name and pronouns, which in my book means I'm already bending backwards so far to accomodate him that I'm halfway to breaking. But I think it's fair to give him time. I don't want him to feel like I'm 'flaunting' my gender, but I think we all know how much opinions can differ as to what counts as 'flaunting' it! And it would be worse for him to think I've gone out of my way to hide it, since that would suggest I have something to be ashamed of.

I'm not going to ask my friends to stop calling me Lawrence while he's around. But I'm also not going to bind, thanks to my buddy pneumonia. Everything else is a huge muddle.

My binding shirts are underwear. The shirts and magnets and flag and so on will probably strike him as being too 'aggressive', and might give him the impression that this is the only identity I have any more - especially since I've hidden them all for his other visits, so he'll assume they're new.

The name on the door will be right in his face, fairly literally, the whole time he's here.

But... it's my name, here. Last year I didn't put a name up because I was in an all-girls hall, and I just went without a door dec. That bare door felt like a concession every time I walked through it. It was a real triumph, for me, when I told the RA that he had been given the wrong name for me. I fought hard for that.

But, should I do a queer-cleaning to tone it down inside the room to compensate for the name outside??? These are all battles that I've fought with myself over the last year - but which battles do I fight tomorrow?

As I said to Risa when I asked to post early: I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS. What do you guys think? Help me out!


  1. Lawrence! I know we talked about this in Alpine, but it was great to read it in more detail on the blog. Keep me/us posted! I hope it goes well. =)


  2. Haha! I feel bad for always leaking my panic onto the blog. The update: I went ahead and tidied up everything that was strewn on the floor (like my binding shirts and my pride flag) but didn't bother with the stuff that was still in boxes. So, he's already found several of my ties, which he complimented!

    And not only did he surely see the name on my door, he overheard at least two friends greet me as Lawrence. He hasn't said anything but I'm actually really happy about it. I feel like the best thing to have happen, right now, is for him to see that this is something that I'm actually doing and something that's a normal part of my life but without it being everywhere.

    We haven't talked about it, but I don't think I want to at this point.

    Also, I think my new meds are kicking in and I may, some day, cease to have pneumonia.