“What’s your daddy’s name?” She’s five. It's impossible for her to know all that goes along with that question. More than four years have passed. I still find myself unable to tell this story.
My father’s name is Jillian.
September 2010 I found out my father is a transgendered woman. The knowledge available today was not around then, especially for children of trans parents. I did not know a single transgendered person at the time. On top of that, Orange County, California is a conservative place to live. I felt like my family would never find acceptance here. All these fears were born. I had no idea how to cope with my dad’s gender identity. Our whole family was in transition.
The sense of loss was overwhelming. I had to say good bye to the dad I wanted. That takes time. Grief is impossible to rush. My wedding day came to mind, well, many days came to mind. All the days where I wanted my dad to the man I’d known my whole life.
Our journey as a family has been messy. I love my dad. She is one of the bravest souls I know. I can’t tell you how many tears have been shed before I was able to say that. Baby steps are the only steps I have been able to take. I could not have even imagined changing pronouns four years ago. I felt betrayed and angry as I tried to figure out what all this meant. I think it is great that trans people are getting support. But, sometimes I feel like the family is put in a bad light for rejecting the transgendered person. I love trans people. My heart has always held a special spot for those apart of the LGBT community. I never knew why. This had nothing to do with accepting that he was transgender as much as I had to process what it meant to me personally. I had to learn to let him be her. I was not rejecting him as much as I was taking the space I needed to grieve.
So I sit here wondering where I begin. I am going to end this post with a letter to myself the night I found out. I wish these words were around to guide me through my journey. Maybe they can help someone now.
I know life seems impossible right now. Despite all evidence to the contrary you will be okay. And that voice, you know the one that keeps screaming at you that you are alone, is a liar.Here is what you are longing for… I give you permission to feel whatever you need to feel. Do not be afraid of your ugly emotions. Running from them will take the life away from you. Face your grief. There is joy and peace on the other side. Say goodbye to James. But, know that you are going to get love Jillian one day. It will take time and you deserve that. Please stop feeling like you need to rush into acceptance.God will send people to you who are literally going to carry you when you feel like you can’t go on. You will meet kids of transgendered parents after many prayers of just one friend who just understands. Suddenly, the lonely path will not be so lonely. These people will make you brave. Wait patiently for them.These three things will heal you: God, friends, and time. That God will become your perfect parent. Once that happens you will be able to let go; one day you will stop fighting. You will accept that James must become Jillian. You will even want that for her.I can’t deny the pain that lies ahead of you. But what I can tell you is that you are stronger than you can imagine.