When a Father's Son Becomes His Daughter
My domineering dad stood by me during my gender transition, but I didn’t truly become a woman until I finally stood up to him.
Illustrations by Esther Hong | Edited by Lilly Dancyger
I called Papa in June 2001, the night before my sister Juno’s sweet sixteen party.
“I’m coming in on the bus around five,” I said. “I’ll be wearing makeup and women’s clothes. I just want to let you know so you’re not surprised. We can talk about it later.”
If I acted as though it wasn’t a big deal, maybe it wouldn’t be.
“Just make sure to be beautiful,” Papa replied.
I couldn’t believe it worked. I didn’t realize how much of an act my indifference was until the wave of relief from his acceptance made it hard to speak, so I quickly said goodbye.
Papa was a social worker for homeless people with AIDS, so he’d been around a lot of queers. But I didn’t expect him to be so unconcerned when the queer in question was his child — his first-born son.
Before he was a social worker, Papa was a taxi driver, going to night school to get his degree. He bragged about his straight A’s while I rolled my eyes about how easy his classes were, not like at…
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