I’ve seen various mother-and-daughter relationships be intensely adversarial, and that helped me be prepared for my own set of conflicts with my mom — conflicts that predate me realizing and announcing that I’m a transgender girl, and also conflicts about that subject.
Both categories of these conflicts have been long and bitter, with extended periods of leave-me-alone quiet in between. It’s been a rocky road. And yet, nowadays, my mom and I have reached the sort of just-right dynamic where there is enough emotional distance and yet not too much. We add value to each others’ lives without it being intrusive. Too much closeness, and the latter can be a problem because deep down, my mom and I have very different personal values. Attempts to reconcile these have failed so miserably that I’ve given up on that. We basically agree to disagree, and that’s not a bad way of dealing with some things.
As for me, at some point I was excruciatingly embarrassed about being out in public as a t-girl, and today all that’s in the past. On some days I look good, on others, less so — but I have a life to live and if I decide to wear a summer dress then I do, period. I have too-male facial features, and Charlize Theron would have looked way better in the dress — but that’s OK. I do what I can with what I have.
Until recently, I used to rush into explanations of being a t-girl prior to anything else, and nowadays that sort of seems secondary to just living my life. I’m just a girl. I happen to be an unusual sort of girl, but that’s not productive to dwell on, especially when other folks are involved. It’s not all about me. More important to whomever I deal with is often: I have value to add. So, that’s my focus.
As for my mom, she’s not delighted with how me being a t-girl now implies that she knows this and a vast amount of people in her past don’t. She chose to not mention this to them. The downside to her is that she has to keep managing this information in a compartmentalized way. Personally, I would have handled it differently, but it’s her decision as to what she says, and to whom. For the most part, she has a hard time referring to me as her daughter and by my now-correct name because often she functions in the mind-set of still thinking of me on her old assumptions.
So, imagine my surprise when today she copied me on an email to a business associate in which she mentioned me, described some of my values and how they were relevant to the conversation, and referred to me as her daughter, without even going down the “my transgender daughter” route — as if the transgender aspect doesn’t really matter. Because finally, we’ve reached the stage where … it doesn’t.