I am so freakin lucky. Dude, I can’t even tell you. Last Thursday I rented myself a little black Versa (like what Hiro drove in “Heroes!” I’m a mutant with tranny super-powers! What would my ability be? Testosterone driven would be the ability to migrate fat to other places, or perhaps sprout random hairs, or maybe make people’s vocal cords thicken to the degree that it chokes them.) It was time to visit my parents.
Over the course of this year, I have experienced deep dark pain and loss and discomforts like multiple paper cuts, sometimes on fantastically sensitive parts, but I have consistently had the love and patience of my friends and family. That makes me one helluva lucky guy. My poor, benighted parents have endured my coming out as an a) Lesbian (yay, it’s 1978 and our daughter’s a pussy-licking lady lover! We couldn’t be more proud!); b) a heroin addict (6 years later and look where pussy-licking led to! Well, I guess there are some painfully loud clues when your kid’s heroes are Lou Reed and William Burroughs, and, while watching “After School Special” she finds herself longing aloud for “track marks.”); c) a tattoo artist, although that, at least, had the potential for income and got me in some magazines and two books, which parents can’t help but loving a little; and d) a God lover (choke! The infamy! Bless their hearts - my parents are atheist activists who raised a tattooed, lesbian, recovering addict freakin’ God lover, which frankly, I think, is a fantastic argument for the existence of a greater consciousness with a wicked sense of humor.)
So what’s this God lovin’, girl chasin’, recoverin’ drunk and junky up to now’days? Why she’s a SHE/HE! Fancy!
Believe me when I report a deep and not-lonely well of compassion for these two crazy kids, who got hooked up in the late 50’s, are still married, are still godless free-thinkers (as their license plates, bearing the letters “FT” for Free Thinker, and their “Darwin” fish stickers remind us), who enjoy nothing more than a good dinner with a well-conceived and artfully executed gin martini, and who somehow ended up with Sideshow Bob for a daughter. This is
Even so, when I suggested that I was a pretty boyish kid, I was a little taken aback to hear my mother respond in the negative. In that moment, I am teleported into time, back to the past, when the three of us were in family therapy because their daughter insisted on being suicidal. “And what kind of childhood did you have, Mrs. Peterson?” I hear the psychiatrist ask, neutrally. “Oh, fine.” She responds, with equal neutrality, oblivious to the aghast and agog fish-mouths of her partner and progeny. “Um, Dear,” my father begins, “you had a horrible childhood.” Oh, right. That.
My mother has a gift for revisionist history, a mechanism which no doubt has saved her from immense amounts of pain and suffering. Nonetheless, when I see her clam up on my boy self, I’m a little (just a little) shocked.
I re-frame it. “Remember what a tomboy I was?” I ask in hopes of jarring some tender reserve. She bites, and shares wistfully “Oh, you were fearless! Always climbing trees, and rocks, terrifying us!” after which my father says “You could throw a football better than Eric!” during which I think “I could throw a pass better than you, Old Man!”
Those things don’t make me trans; lots of girls are like that. I think it was more the always wanting to be in suits, and making fake moustaches; I believe the tell was in my profound frustration at everyone’s perception of me as a girl. I mean, I capitulated, but not gracefully, to this “fact” of girlness. My stupid brother had a penis and, I understood, privilege with it. I was forever to be relegated to second class as a girl, which was insult to the blistering hematoma of injury: appearing to be the sex I was not.
I was only shown two sexes as a child. I was told I was one. I don’t know if it’s true that there are only two genders; I suspect there are two, with an infinite possibility of variations and amalgamations betwixt and between and perhaps beyond. I almost don’t care. Somewhere, in that beckoning void, that galaxy of network stars, is the delicious Planet Sam. I don’t need gills, and I won’t need a space suit – a suit and tie maybe – to show up. I know when I showed up at my mom and dad’s doorstep, they welcomed this Stranger From Another Gender. Some guys doing same got the boot, they were exiled, ostracized. Some guys I know still can’t visit the woman and man who bore and raised them. I only ever experienced internal privations, degradations.
Here’s to Mom and Dad. If they cannot call me “he” yet, if they seem to have become smitten anew with my given name “Samantha,” well that’s okay. It’s been hard as fuck for me and I’m, um, me. I showed up on the end-of-the-year, what used to be mimeographed, share sheet, you know, “we went to Germany, Dad had a colonoscopy, Skipper got the diabetes, our kitchen got renovated” thing that people send out for the 25th. The very last sentence read “Oh, and Samantha is transgendering to Sam.”
Aint I a lucky man?