Many moons ago I appeared in a Woman article titled “I must be a man for Christmas” exploring how when I go back to my parents I have to neutralise my gender. In the 20 odd years since that article was published things have not changed with respects to my parents, and my personal narrative is similar to many of trans and gender non-conforming folk. Each of us has our own routines and rituals around the holiday season, each of which often designed to placate the beliefs of loved ones who refuse to recognise our identities. When families reject a child’s identity, or worse are outright hostile to it, we are forced to compromise our identities to fit around their needs, regardless of the emotional toil it takes. Some argue that we are the selfish ones for expressing who we understand ourselves to be, yet the reality is that all families are an overlapping series of compromises and that by rejecting trans identities some families pick personal belief over the love of a child.
For me this a complex issue bounded by growing up in a Christian household. My parents love me unconditionally, care about me, and I have a good working relationship with them. Yet, the reality is that them rejecting a core part of me has put a chasm between us that shuts them out of much of my life. I can talk all the politics and frivolity in the world, but anything that touches gender or sexuality is immediately parked because it has a semantic sting. Both my parents have actively stated they reject me being me, and no matter how much I poke they will not budge. It is me who compromises for the sake of affirming the relationship. There is no hate, just a difficult bridge to cross.
I am fully aware that other trans folk have it far worse than me, so my narrative is definitely not one of a pity Olympics. I occupy that awkward zone of defeated resignation, a knowledge that this is not a war, rather a town that if I try to enter it is a foreign country. My holiday narrative has shrunk to a meal at a restaurant after Christmas for a few hours, the odd phone call every few weeks, and maybe another meeting once or twice a year. All because they choose to reject a core part of me.
In my early twenties I had major daddy issues, a deep rooted sense of needing to prove myself to my father. He worked long hours, was often hard on me, and never…