Don’t let it pass without being true to yourself
This past year, I came out to my father as transgender more than 100 times. My father is 92, and dementia has started setting in. Actually, he worked until he was 90, and, physically, he is fine. But his short-term memory is really bad.
I remember the first time I told him I was transgender; Gosh, it was really hard. I was overwhelmed by so many emotions. I had already told my brothers, and my father was next in line.
He is such a nice guy. After I told him, he said he would keep it a secret and not tell my brothers or anyone else. I told him it was okay, that my brothers already knew. We hugged; I cried. It was a very nice moment.
But because of his short-term memory problems, he promptly forgot.
Over the next several months, after several auditions, I would go by and see him. I would wear whatever I had worn to my auditions, I think I used this as a way for him to get accustomed to seeing me in female attire. He would never ask me, but he would always ask others, why I was wearing women’s clothes. They would tell him because of my acting, and he would seem to be okay with it. But he found it quite funny.
When I went fulltime, I wore dresses for most of my first year. My dad would chuckle then ask why I was in a dress.
Well., it went more like: “What are you wearing?” I’d say, “A dress, Dad.” He would ask, “Why are you wearing that?” I’d say, “Because I am transgender dad.”
One day I thought maybe he didn’t know what that meant, so I tried to rationalize it for him. But after a while I gave up. And so did he, after about three months of seeing me four to five times a week in a dress.
Most of the time he does not understand that I am transgender. This makes for interesting conversations. He has moved into an assisted living home, and when I go to visit, he always introduces me as his son. He’s proud of having four boys.
I usually tell who ever he is talking to that he had three boys and me. He has never been mean about it, but that’s because he is such a nice guy. He thought that me wearing a dress was funny. I think this is a generational thing.
So, what do you do? I can tell you what I did. I just went with the flow. It has never really bothered me, because I know he loves me. Also, he has such a good heart.
I usually go out to eat with my dad once a week, and he has never been embarrassed going places with me, even when I am in a dress. It’s a fairly small town, but not that small. It confuses him when people refer to me as she. I think he’s finally getting it after almost a year, but for me it’s a small price to pay to let him know who I am.
I never got the chance to tell my mother, and she was actually the first person besides my wife that I wanted to tell. I tried on several occasions but always chickened out. The last time I tried to tell her, I had decided that, no matter what, I would tell her that day.
But when I started talking, she asked if it were okay for my aunt and grandmother to listen. I asked her what she was talking about, because my aunt and grandmother both had died 20 years prior. She said, “They are right there,” and pointed to nothing.
At that point I asked myself, “Why am I doing this? Is it for me or for her?” And as I looked at her, I just couldn’t do it. I rationalized that it would be mean, because she wouldn’t understand. So, I didn’t tell her.
A week later she collapsed in a coma and died. My brother died on that same weekend.
This event was the catalyst that started my real journey to be me. Within two years I came out, and six months later, I went full time. But I learned: Don’t let people you love die without letting them know who you are. I did and still regret it to this day. I miss you Mom.
NOTE: This article was written B.C. (Before Corona). Since the onset of the epidemic, I have missed my lunches with my dad. Because he is in an assisted living home, I have not been able to visit him recently, which makes me sad. I have talked to him on the phone while standing outside his window several times.
Again, the lesson is, life changes in a blink of an eye. Don’t let it change without being true to yourself. As always love, light, and peace, Sophie.