Precious messages… and a little bit of hate mail!

First of all, I hope that all of the children of transitioners who wrote in got SOME reply from me! My gmail seems pretty unreliable. Your messages are very important. I hope that at some point you might consider writing something yourself about your experience. Just get in touch. All of the messages so far from CoTs have been from daughters whose fathers have transitioned fairly recently, about the pressure to pretend that you are all right about it and the difficulty in sharing your feelings with siblings and parents. I had forgotten the aspect of this whereby your father takes any ambivalence or negativity about his transition as something poisonous coming from your mother. There’s some gaslighting there that I really recognise. Your feelings are your own. Don’t bury them.

There have also been some lovely emails of support from parents of trans children, wives and partners of transitioners, as well as people who are just interested in the subject. There were also very supportive messages on Twitter, Mumsnet and Facebook. Thank you!

So it was very interesting to then receive this message from ‘Idi Amin’, who I understand to have been sending out abusive messages to several groups and individual feminists online. My first instinct was to just share it with a couple of friends, have a chat about it, and then forget about it. But then I realised how much it really reflected the pressure on the families of transitioners to be quiet about how they feel. This is also echoed in another post I am making today, a look at the BBC documentary ‘Seahorse’, in which the ‘trans man’ who is pregnant, plans to cut their father out of their life because his negativity is impossible to handle. If your ideas were robust, if your identity was robust, if you were really convinced that what you were saying was right, you wouldn’t have to resort to violent words or emotional blackmail to get people to agree with you.

It takes something to come across a web site written by and for the CHILDREN of trans people and write this kind of thing, particularly to wish that the person writing about their childhood experience dies of brain cancer (the ‘Berns’ referenced in the email is Magdalen Berns, the feminist activist who died recently). There are two requests in this that I die.  There’s a violence and vileness about this communication that is wholly unwarranted. Why the strange sexual language and allegations? I don’t really understand how this type of communication is supposed to make anyone feel more positive about their interactions with the trans community. This was in no way the behaviour expected from trans people when my father was transitioning, yet the louder the voices from wives and children of transitioners the more violent the rhetoric. The trans community really needs to urgently challenge these sorts of people who believe they are allies.  This is what you get if you write about your experiences of a transitioning father, apparently! Thanks, Idi.

6 thoughts

  1. I don’t know if you got my previous message, but my dad was not a recent transitioner. He came out around the time I graduated from high school, which would be about 14 years ago now. I know what it’s like to have repressed my negative feelings towards him for over a decade. Even when I decided to cut contact with him, I did it silently without a word of explanation. I didn’t want to hurt him by explaining how much his transgender status had contributed to the breakdown of our relationship. Almost a year ago to the day, I finally told him what he put me through, and all of those repressed emotions came bursting out like a goddamn volcano. I still don’t fully have a handle on the anger I feel when I think about him. Maybe it’ll take me another 10 years to process his shit. Who knows?

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    1. I was still thinking up huge rants at my father in my head 20 years after we stopped talking. I did a Buddhist course that helped me stop that angry voice, then out of the blue I got a chance to shout at him and about halfway through thought…. ‘What’s the point?’ He isn’t going to change. I just feed into his victim narrative. He isn’t even worth my energy. Yes to the anger, though. It’s not completely gone even now. 30 years this October since I stopped living with him.

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  2. I know he’s never going to change, but I think my outburst at him was a lot more about me and my need to stop bottling up my anger. Keeping all that stuff inside is painful and self-destructive, as I’m sure you know.

    Have you ever had a chance to talk to a counselor or therapist about your dad to help work through your anger? I’ve only had the guts to bring it up once in a session. The conditioning to keep quiet is still so strong. No wonder the anger lingers.

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    1. I tried psychotherapy once but I wasn’t ready to talk about it. Since then, time and very little contact have helped. I found the book ‘Children of the Self-Absorbed’ helpful! It’s taken a very long time to feel that I can write about it. It’s been more cathartic than I expected. I am writing right now about a sense that my father has just disappeared over time, like he has become more insubstantial with each new attempt at reinvention. I’m left being angry at a person who is practically a ghost.

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  3. i’m still angry, my trans father died due to the hormones but I hadn’t even begun to process what had happened and then he was dying or refusing treatment from the side effects of the hormones for over a year so again it never felt felt like an appropriate time. I was left with it all even the funeral was a kick in the teeth as he didnt even mention that he had adopted a child during his prewritten monologue about himself he had written for his eulogy. he did mention something about family being a dissapointment. there is still a blockage within myself that somehow sees him as some victim. he cultivated it really well.

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    1. I’m so sorry. This is an awful thing to happen to you and such a difficult thing to deal with because you have to carve out your own space. It’s been 30 years since I last lived with my father and I am only now getting some acknowledgement from family about how bad it was for me. It occurred to me when I read your comment that if I went to my father’s funeral I wouldn’t know anyone there. I have been pushed so much out of his life. And I know it’s his loss – I am a good person to know and I loved him. But it still sucks. You aren’t wrong for being loving and feeling pity. That’s the normal thing to do. It was his self-absorption that was wrong. xxx

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