I went over to my parents, and we ate lunch for a few minutes, then we started talking. My dad started with essentially “Spill.” and I said “You got my letter? Well then. I’m happy this way. The end.”
Dad responded with what he thought, which is that it’s no different than someone whose self-identity is that they’re an amputee, and they freeze their legs and get ‘em cut off, and that I’m not different than Michael Jackson (Hitler comparison anyone? Pick someone people get emotional reactions from to compare to…) “He should have found psychological help therapy to cope with that he’s actually black”, Dad said.
I see the overt comparisons. I know why he’s comparing to those extremes. It comes down to that my parents believe that what’s “Natural” is better, usually. So that I’d “take drugs” to alter myself is unthinkable, like someone cutting off their legs is unthinkable to them.
I can now respond that “I think that’s okay, as long as they’re not hurting others with their identity. If it makes them happy, more diversity is fine with me. Odd as those choices are.
Then dad started ragging on hellion0, calling her by her birthname and I walked out and slammed the door, trying to get the message across that that was not an okay thing. Without some basic respect and attempt at understanding, no conversation is going to happen. I realized that I forgot my camera, stormed in, grabbed it, and slammed the door again.
Mom came over to my office right afterward. I gave about 8 minutes to let things cool, and was going to call their house and say “Want to try again, without the blatant disrespect and without the door slamming this time?”, but she came in as I was dialing so I bailed. We ended up talking for two and a half hours.
We talked about choosing identities versus things that are inborn, and how hard it is to tell which is which. And that I deeply believe that people should be able to choose their identities, and that she believes that whatever’s natural is “better”. We can at least identify the beliefs that make us disagree, and we understood each other a lot. She’s not ready to accept, but at least she sees some of what I see.
She asked me about “my culture”, and I told her about my friends — ftmichael, ganimede, klibs, elliotpp, apollotiger, raijna, and rising-dawn and why they’re all special to me. That I don’t think we’re enough people to form a “transgender culture” or even ourselves a queer culture, just a group of friends, and I explained that, and what I do get from everyone. Why their insight and diverse experience is so valuable to me. I think we ended up closer again. By the end of it, I was close and comfortable enough to at least jokingly ask if she’d pick me up a bigger bra when she goes to the city next. I don’t expect she’s that comfortable yet, but at least it’s out in the open.
I wish my dad had made more of an effort to communicate well, but I think it’ll take time.