I've said it over and over again. I am one of the lucky ones. I've lost no one in my family and extended family when I transitioned. I am not going into the whys and wherefores of this. I am just happy to count my blessings.
There is only a single tradition that I have created since I transitioned, and it is now the time of year that it takes place. I re-issue the first blog I ever wrote two years ago. The only thing that has changed is that it is now four years since I transitioned, but I still feel exactly the same ----
I'm Still (a) Dad
This Sunday is Fathers day.
Now, two years after my transition I am really thinking about this. Changing genders is such a totally personal decision to throw away the masks, the fear and the confusion and put oneself out in the world as honestly and authentically as one can. For me, my transition occurred when my three children were already adults and living on their own. I love Jenny Boylan's new memoir Stuck in the Middle with You where her transition occurred when her kids were young and she also transitioned from father to mother - in name and deed. We know that gender roles are not as rigid perhaps as they used to be, and by being authentic she points out her boys have become better men.
My kids grew up with a dad who filled all the expected dad roles. I was there teaching and coaching baseball and basketball for many years. I did the driving, the grilling, mowing the lawn, growing the garden, training the dog, helping with the homework --- and loved every minute of it. I was also somewhat controlling and thinking that I knew better than everyone, which as I know now was one of my methods of hiding what was inside me.
A few years ago, when I told the kids that I was transgender, my biggest fear was that they would abandon me. Each of them, I believe have processed my transition in a different manner but I have not lost any of them. Sometimes we chat about it, and I believe that still having them in my life is another blessing that I have been given.
I am now the woman I knew I was. Each day I awake with gratitude that I am living another day as my authentic self. I have never been the mother of my kids. I have been their father, and that is still part of who I am. Recently I was at a training at the local Apple store and a woman sat next to me who I recognized as the mother of one of my daughter's school friends. She knows my family very well, but I have not seen her in at least 10 years. I said hello and asked her if she knew who I was (I do look different). She was confused and apologized that she did not recognize me, and I explained that I was Stella's dad. It took her a while for that to sink in, but then we were able to chat.
Presently, two of my kids call me Grace, and the other still calls me dad. It must be confusing for them. I am OK with whatever makes them comfortable.
Over the past two years I have changed a great deal. However there is least one thing that hasn't: I am still (a) dad.
An older version of me coaching little league in 1987
When one transitions it is confusing for many of the people in their lives to get the new pronouns correct. When the person who transitions is a parent, it is not only pronouns that will change. Each person and their families have to adjust to the proper use of parental labeling and naming. Like the unique snowflakes we each are, there is no one way, and there are no rules on how to do this. Each person and family has to explore and possibly negotiate this territory in a way that hopefully satisfies everyone. Needless to say, this can be complicated. The transitioning parent may have a strong desire of a new label. Whether or not the children are willing to share their thoughts or even allowed to can be an issue.
In my book, No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, I had a chance to talk to my son Elie about his experience of meeting Grace.
I think that maybe when we first met Grace...I was thinking that, and it is the same thing now as it was then, when I sit down talking to you...I...don't see Grace really...I just see you...the person who I know. You had all this surgery, and you have all these clothes, and you paint your nails...as my dad...all this, it didn't change to me, you know, your face didn't change drastically enough so I still just recognize you as my dad...so calling you Grace, and sometimes, just stepping away I say, yeah, I guess this is a different person, but to me you don't seem that different in the long run.
I feel like your identity in the world was Father! And you knew how to play that role like in movies and TV--Man--Father. You did sporty things but you did other things, like you sewed and you cooked. But I feel like...You wore sneakers and jeans and a flannel shirt...and a beard at times...and you were a hard person at work. How's your day? Fine! You coached sports; you just did the traditional things.
I hope this is not all that offensive, but I feel that Grace is not as feminine as I expected her to be. You wear a ball cap, and your hair is pretty short. You showed me those glam pictures, and I guess that was what I was expecting you to be all the time. And you still wear T-shirts. You switched all your blue jackets to pink jackets, but they are still like Northface ski jackets...and I think that probably in the long run helps because I expected you to be really over the top.
No matter how I saw myself, I am pretty sure that I knew how my kids saw me. I was their dad, and I am still their dad. Even this is complicated as their dad is now a woman named Grace Stevens, and that is often hard for them to explain.
I have never felt I needed a to re-write my history. How I felt internally was just as real as how I lived and acted externally in my relationships with family, friends and co-workers. There were no lies. I never believed that my gender dysphoria could or would justify me to live or act badly to anyone in my life. Yes, it has been complicated!
I am pretty sure the only thing about it that is not complicated is that we are still a family and it is love that holds us together. Happy Fathers Day.
Grace Stevens is a transgender woman who transitioned at the age of 64 and holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is a father of three, grandparent of two, athlete, advocate and author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth an intimate memoir of her personal struggle to transition and live her true life authentically as a woman. Grace is available for speaking about authentic living with Living on-TRACK, and Gender Variance Education and Training. Visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .
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