Friday, October 1, 2010

1 year of transition

October 1st has had a lot of different meanings over the years. In 1989, it was the date we moved to Washington State from California. Last year, however, it was the day I began my transition and this year it is a 10 month anniversary for when I started Hormone Replacement Therapy.

I had come out to my parents last year about being transgender in August but it wasn't until October 1st that they saw their first glimpse of a different me.

It was a Saturday like any other, my wife and I would go to my parents' house (~10 min away) and my mom would make everyone breakfast and then my dad and I would go on a walk and have coffee down near the Mukilteo waterfront. It was a Saturday like any other, except that I wore a dark green nail polish on my fingernails.

We ate breakfast and I remember my mom and sister looking at me like I was some kind of freak and my sister rushed my 1 year old niece downstairs away from me like I was a monster. I would later find out that both of them had SWORN I was wearing makeup when in fact, I was not.

My dad and I went on our walk and I might have gotten a look from the barista but my Dad didn't seem to care one way or the other.

It wasn't until the next day that my dad told me that my mom had banned me from coming to the house ever again with nail polish on. A foreboding foreshadowing of the disownment that was to come.

Nail polish, it's really a simple thing, it would have been easy enough for my mom to say nail polish was ok and yet it would have also have been just as easy for me to say ok, I won't wear nail polish at your house. But it was more than that. It was me trying to ease my parents into my transition slowly and having them deny it at the very first point, such a small and almost unnoticeable point compared to wigs, makeup, and dresses.

I had made a promise to myself that I would dress as a woman all of the time at home and I would go the extra mile and wear nail polish on weekends because I didn't want to have to remove it every single night before work.

My birthday happened to be the very next week and we were planning to celebrate it on a Sunday. Because of the new "no nail polish" rule, I asked my dad and pleaded with my mom to change the day we celebrated it to Friday and I wouldn't wear nail polish. My mom refused and would not lift the nail polish ban.

My now ex-wife went to my own birthday party (and my sister's, hers is 2 days from mine) alone that Sunday night while I stayed home. Maybe my parents really thought I was faking. Maybe they really thought it was a phase. Maybe they really thought their son who had done everything right and made them proud all his life....was not really going to transition to be their daughter.

Whatever their thoughts were, I sat there alone on my birthday for the very first time and yet their lack of tolerance only pushed me forward. And here I am now, 1 year later and a lot has changed.

I've seen who my true friends are, I've been blessed with continued employment, I've made new amazing friends, and most importantly, I've been able to be true to myself for the first time in my life. It has been quite a year.


Petra Bellejambes said...

An amazing story told by an amazing person. Thanks for sharing so much of it here. Many happy anniversaries ahead for you.

VĂ©ronique said...

Happy anniversary of the start of your new life! Not an easy start, to be sure. The funny thing is, in certain circles, such as Goth, guys wear fingernail polish. It's not any kind of sign of being female. But I imagine your parents wouldn't have wanted you to be a Goth either.

It's really sad to think of you being alone for your birthday, but I'm so glad that the year going forward has been such a good one for you. And more amazing things to come!

Jill Davidson said...

Hi Debra - I'm across the pond from you, in Poulsbo - at the moment, anyway - I work in Seattle.

Wow - nail polish is really important. Some of the things we do seem so small to other people, but they're big to others and big to ourselves. All week long I've worn light purple nail polish at work. I get compliments on it, and I just fit in. Life is so much better being true to yourself.

Stace said...

Happy Aniversary.

It's a very sad story from last year. It's nice to hear that it's going better now.


Justine said...

Reading your story reminds me of the first steps I took to try and ease my parents and family into my transition. I remember wearing clear nail polish to see what their reaction was. I was kind of expecting a similar reaction but it almost went un-noticed. It was only a few days later that my Mum commented on me wearing it.

When I read over your story from the last year It really inspires me how much you have come on in a year and all of this despite how your parents and family have behaved. I have been reasonably lucky in that my family have taken it reasonably well but even still its been a tough struggle even with their support, so to do it without the support of your family is such a brave and amazing thing to do.

I've said it before, but you are a truly inspirational and amazing young lady.

Much love

Justine (@JustineHay)

Jessica De Leon said...

Congratulations on the milestone. I am sorry for the painful things your family has done in reaction to your transitioning :(

Debra said...

thanks everyone =) It's been a good year even despite setbacks

The Philosophy of My Life said...

RAD. Riding it out in the face of fear. I broke it to my Mom with clear coat and an evolutionary biology lecture. She's an artist, so that strategy didn't quite work.

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