Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

My Impossible Father

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | June 01, 2009 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: LGBT Families

As part of the 4th Annual Blogging for LGBT Families Day, here is an essay by a teenager about his LGBT family. I thank him for sharing it at my request, and I think we can all learn something from this astute young man about the true meaning of family.

The stiff, stilted child actor on the screen pauses, gaping awkwardly, his painfully exaggerated facial expression drooping into a frown. He jerks his head up, finally grasping the situation.

My father and I have impatiently endured his infuriating obliviousness. We imagine the director, just off-screen, gesturing furiously; long seconds pass while an uncomfortable silence fills the air. Suddenly, in a cheesy falsetto my dad interjects: "Kiss me, you fool!"

I explode helplessly into riotous laughter while she tries to control herself but giggles just as hard. Rocking back and forth, I attempt to squeeze in a breath between unremitting convulsions. The actors continue to chew the scenery, but, for us, time has stopped; my father and I alone exist in that sacred space between the actors' lines.

My father and I have a relationship that most would consider impossible.

Common pronoun usage dictates male pronouns when speaking about a father, but mine is an uncommon situation. The correct pronoun is "she". My father is a male-to-female transsexual. Many have difficulty conceptualizing this tall, blonde, funny woman as a father, and most suggest that fatherhood is impossible in such a situation.

Generally, people insist that a woman cannot be a father, and yet, she is my father. The bond we share is as normal as any other father-son relationship. We toss the football and practice lacrosse. We watch TV and laugh wildly. We discuss homework and grade her students' papers. Sometimes we argue, because obstinacy certainly runs in the family. We have a relationship that society deems impossible, but to us, is quite mundane.

My mother and father separated when I was at the tender age of six. The urban life I had known in the city was wrenched from my grasp as my mother and I moved to the spacious suburbs. Leaving my father behind tore a hole in my heart her exact shape and size.

Even though we were far removed from each other, my relationship with her remained strong. Every other weekend, she would come to seal the great fissure of my soul, only to leave the day after and re-open it.

We both underwent changes in our time apart; I sprouted into adolescence while she transformed into a woman. Each time I saw her she had transformed more and more into a woman. By the time I was ten years old, and began to understand the world, my father was comfortably a woman, and I was comfortable with her as a woman.

My relationship with my father has molded me to who I am today. The lessons I draw from my father include those about gender, but largely influence my life in ways only a father can. I learned tolerance, patience, and acceptance from my father's transformation but more importantly she instilled in me a fundamental tolerance for the unknown as well as vigorous passion to find that which I love, not that which provides momentary satisfaction.

Some deem my father impossible, some mark our relationship as disgraceful; all I know is that she is the best father that I have ever had, and that is all that matters.


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Angela Brightfeather | June 1, 2009 3:09 PM

Remarkably diverse and remarkably profound and human.

Your father is a remarkably lucky woman and I am so thankful to have lived long enough as a Transgender person to be able to say that, in just that way.

Thank you both so much.

This is a very touching essay. I'm glad he shared it. Some people could learn a lot from this.

mixedqueer mixedqueer | June 1, 2009 4:27 PM

omg happy sappy tears! cutest essay ever? i think so.

Great essay! My husband also does the "Kiss me, you fool!" line at the best moments.

diddlygrl | June 1, 2009 5:44 PM

This is such an awesome essay.

I once had a father like yours, but I had made up the love and strong fatherly prescence to hide my own transness. I mean if I had a perfect childhood with a perfect family, then I couldn't be something that did not fit in the boxes that the world made for us,could I?

It is so heartening to hear that there are fathers in the world like yours. She really is someone special.

Wonderful story, Jillian! Would that all parent-child relationships were so rich.

And thanks for participating in Blogging for LGBT Families Day!

Thanks for sharing . I bet your dad is proud of you.

Thank you so much for encouraging this essay. Loved it.