"A Boy in a Bra"
Dad found my bra, a boring, amazing, used black one I bought off someone a few weeks ago on Craigslist. It was hidden so well at the back of my jeans drawer but he still found it. He found it and is now holding it, the soft padded cups being crushed by his thick, dirty fingers.
“Tell me what I am holding here, son. Tell me why.” His eyes are looking at me with poorly veiled disgust. Although they are tired, there is passionate life within them-- the same kind of passion he shows when politics are brought up. My hands are trembling as I search for the words. I can feel his eyes peering into me. It’s a palpable thing. Even with my head hung, his gaze is like fire to my skin.
“Ya-you won’t u-understand.” I lift my head to see him now shaking his as he scratches his beard with his free hand.
It’s one of those tells he has whenever he finds himself with no answers. A heavy sigh comes from him, his shaking head becoming slower and more exaggerated. “Try me.” The way he says it already says way more than he realizes.
Now my head is shaking too as I aimlessly search our small kitchen with my eyes. What am I hoping to find? It’s the same empty walls, only the nails left behind from everything dad took down after mom left. She got tired of how he is-- got tired of me too, I guess.
I don’t know what to say. I’ve imagined this conversation so many times and still I’m not prepared. Not because I don’t have words to say. I have so many words! But none of them will matter. I’m his only son. He will never accept that I know in my very core that I’m actually his daughter.
“Clearly your mom leaving has caused some real confusion,” he stops and looks down at my bra in his hand, seeming to immediately doubt his ‘diagnosis’. “Or... I don’t even know. Why this, Alexander?” He never calls me that name. Always Alex. Until now... “Of all possible things, why this?!”
“It’s who I am.” I know these few words are like a grenade being dropped. The situation is only going to get worse from here...
“No. It’s not you. It’s society pushing their agenda! It’s overcompensation for your mom leaving. It’s a phase that will pass. BUT, THIS IS NOT YOU! This is not my boy.”
Exactly! Not your boy. I never really was your boy. You sure tried though, didn’t you? If you had really looked you would have seen her from the beginning. I’ve never fit but you tried to jam me into every masculine situation possible, telling me hard work and determination would finally pay off. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t the fastest or the strongest; it didn’t matter that girls have always seen me as just a friend. You pushed and pushed and now you’ve pushed me away for good--
Silence is all I can give. In my head my response is years of unsaid things finally being said. But the action of inner dialogue has already proven to be a non-action, like yelling in a room alone. After a while the pressure of unsaid things is corrosive. It’s going to come out eventually. Will I be able to control it when it does?
“I want answers, Alexander.”
“Answers?!” the dam is breaking. And now that it’s started, I don’t think it’s going to stop. “I don’t have the answers! Why this?! Do you think I would choose to not fit?! Do you think I like feeling out of place everywhere I go?! I hate it! What you hold in your hand is my greatest happiness. I feel better, more complete, more legitimate--”
“Legitimate?” he shakes his head, a teasing smile growing on his face. “A boy in a bra is the farthest thing from legitimate. It’s sick and a mockery--”
I put my hand up and shake my head as I walk away.
Sick. That’s all he thinks of me. He didn’t care to hear anything I said because his mind was made up the moment he discovered my bra when he rifled through my drawers. I could have had all the answers and still he would have acted in the same way.
“This conversation will continue later.” He says. I pay him no response, walking out of the kitchen and up the stairs to my room. Only two months and two days until I graduate high school. Another woman in his life is about to leave him behind…
Alexander’s footsteps are loud as he walks up the stairs to his room. I have no words to express my feeling. A sick pit sits in my stomach at the very thought. I put the bra down on the counter between the dirty dishes. I close my eyes to a splash of images: my boy becoming a man, my boy getting married; my boy carrying out his first child from the delivery room...
I open my eyes again, the bra seeming to stare at me. It has taken on a presence, a personality, and it represents my failure up to this point. You are just confused, my son. Confused and still broken from mom leaving…
… When Christine left, I tried to find someone to blame other than me. It couldn’t have been my yelling or my sometimes dry-drunk behavior, right? I mean she contributed just as much to those fights as I did. And her emotional punches were usually much worse than mine. She’s been gone for 292 days and everything is broken because of it. I don’t know if I was the only reason for her leaving but I do know my role to play in it can’t be denied.
And now it has had a sickening effect on my boy. With his mom gone, he now seeks to fill that role himself. God help us. Isn’t a son supposed to model after his father? Shouldn’t his mom leaving ultimately bring us closer?
Alexander has never been the most outgoing. Usually quiet and reserved, there has always been a strength in his silence. In that way, he is a lot like his mother. I fire off my mouth at the first thought I have--another reason she probably left me. Our final fight was one of our worst. When I think about what I said, I hate to admit that I intended to cut her down. But I did. I wanted to draw emotional blood because she had cut me first.
It seems the longer we were together, the easier it was for her to criticize me-- just wild waters of resentment churning inside of her. The fight was about something small and stupid, most were. After a long day at work, I came home and kicked my feet up in front of the TV. She was busy in the kitchen making dinner. A few off handed, passive aggressive comments made their way out to me. I don’t remember what they exactly were anymore.
Her continuing finally drew me out to investigate. She was waiting with a comment, a comment I still remember clearly, one that set me off like none other: “How can you be so inconsiderate all of the time?”
Just like that the gloves were off and I let the emotional punches fly, calling her lazy, selfish, ungrateful, and then, as fights tend to do, it became less about the present comment and more about still-fresh hurts from the past. And it all led to a statement I didn’t really mean but couldn’t unsay once it came from me: “If I’m so terrible, so inconsiderate, why do you stay with me?! Just leave me!”
… That’s exactly what she did. And though she had left after a fight many times, this time she didn’t come back.
I’m already preparing for the same result with my boy. I’ve seen enough stories to know that this twisted road requires compromises I will never be willing to make. It goes against all I know. It goes against all I support. It goes against all I believe. If this isn’t a phase and he chooses to pursue this path, I will not be able to stay in his life. He needs to understand this.
My words aren’t enough though. But maybe my actions will speak louder. I grab a pair of scissors from the drawer by the sink, and cut the bra down the middle. There’s a notepad that Christine would use for last minute grocery lists still on the fridge. I rip a page from it. I need to say something so he understands why I did it. I write THIS IS NOT YOU! with a sharpie and place it next to the cut up bra.
I feel like a failure daily. I walked out on my marriage when I was always taught the importance of my vows. I don’t remember my parents fighting much when I was a little girl. When they did, dad would promptly buy mom a bouquet of flowers to go along with his apology. They both knew the value of equal partnership. That’s what I want to believe at least. I think the reality though is both of my parents weren’t nearly as stubborn as I am. I met and married a man who is even more stubborn. To say he is set in his ways is an outrageous simplification. He is stagnancy personified.
Why did I leave? I ask myself that every day, not for Charles’ sake but for my sweet boy’s. There have been so many times I considered going back home. But, what would I say after all this time? There are no words that exist. Charles would take me back in a heartbeat. I know that much. I wouldn’t go back for him though. Never again that man. Not after 18 years of no growth. No growth eventually leads to death. In that house, I was dying. Not for any one reason or event, but because of the totality of our life together. Charles was the same man 292 days ago that he was when I first met him nearly twenty years ago, when I first fell in love with his macho ridgid nature and his no-compromises stance. At first his convictions were refreshing. Eventually they started to suffocate.
I never meant to leave Alexander alone with his father. When I walked out after Charles gave me the opening, I did what I usually would after a fight. I got in my car and drove to the Walmart a few towns away, shopped until I had nothing more to look at, and then… I kept driving. Driving away from the house instead of toward it. Nine and a half months later I live in my own two bedroom apartment an hour and a half or so drive from the house. My ducks are in a row. Two months and two days until I go back for my son.
“Lexi? I think this top would look really cute on you.” I turn to see mom holding up a leopard printed top with black lace frills accenting the bottom and shoulders.
“Does everyone see me as Fran Dreschner now?” I laugh in response to her coy smile.
“All women have certain levels of attachment to animal print actually. The psychology of that would actually be pretty interesting for you to write a paper on for your class.”
“Yeah,” I nod my head, brushing my hair behind my ear. “I could call it The Dreschner Files.”
Mom shakes her head with a bit-lip-smile. “As your loving mother, on this, your twenty second birthday, I’m pulling rank. It’s cute and flattering to your body and I’m getting it for you, my beautiful daughter.”
What mom doesn’t need to know is that I love it too. But if I show too much excitement, it will be animal print everything. And though I wouldn’t necessarily hate that, I also don’t want to so quickly fall into one style mold. I’m still new to this living as a woman/out and about as a woman thing--sixteen months of HRT definitely helps some with the passing aspect, but it doesn’t change the fact that more often than not I feel like a petite woman forever stuck in a frustratingly clunky male frame. There have been some wonderful changes, sure, but my happiness with myself always hinges on who I see when I look in the mirror.
Today, with the help of a mother daughter birthday spa day, I mostly see Lexi. It’s impossible to see only Lexi though. There are still hints of heavy five o’ clock shadow pushing through my foundation, even after six laser hair removal sessions--in fact, the more I look, the more I see it and the thicker it seems. On top of that, whenever I talk, I still feel like the tone of my voice always announces to all in earshot: THIS IS A MAN IN WOMEN’S CLOTHING!
I will always be viewed that way by most. At this very moment, in fact, I can feel at least four sets of eyes looking my way. At least a couple of those sets are judging the thing in the women’s clearance section.
“You must be admiring my daughter’s beauty.” It’s mom against the peering eyes. “That would be the only reason to stare so intently.” I can feel the eyes breaking off me hesitantly and beginning to wander elsewhere. Mom has a gift for speaking clearly enough that it seems like she’s yelling. She is my biggest support and one of the main reasons I had the courage to finally be me. I’ve always modeled after her confidence and sense of style. I remember many times growing up I would sit on the edge of mom and dad’s bed and watch her do her makeup in front of her small vanity. She has always been my standard for strong and self-assured. So, it’s still hard to think that only a few years ago it seemed I would never see her again. She disappeared from our lives without a word. And she came back into my life the same way she left it.
After having been gone just over a year, she came back for me on the night of my high school graduation, having watched in secret from one of the balcony seats in the auditorium. When I finally saw her appear among the sea of students on the main level, her explanation sat in her brimming eyes. Somehow I understood why she left before she ever told me. And whatever pain I felt from her leaving melted away when I saw that she had come back for me. I will always remember graduation night as the night hope came back to my life. Dad had made it clear he wouldn’t be attending. And man of his word, he didn’t attend. I am convinced that without mom coming that night, I would have done a poetically stupid act of self harm or even suicide. I was determined to hurt dad like he had hurt me. What would have done that more than his “boy in a bra” hanging himself in his room, wearing one of my newly bought, and better hidden, bras as a final cherry to top this dramatic suicide sundae?
Instead of that cringe worthy end to my life, that night mom took me to our favorite burger joint and we talked and talked and talked. She told me why she left. The environment at home had poisoned her, and to maintain her sanity, she had to leave. She didn’t think. She just went. And the longer she was away, the harder it was for her to muster the courage to face what she had done. Once all was said and done with the why of her leaving, I told her about me, the true me, the no-facade me. She processed the information with a few sips of her drink, cleared her throat, and looked me in the eye. “You’ve shown me so much grace and forgiveness tonight, my beautiful bo--my beautiful girl. I will accept you as you are and walk with you in it. This is not at all what I envisioned for you, but I love you no matter what and I will never leave you again. This I promise you from the bottom of my very soul.”
Mom’s response, probably born from overcompensation and guilt initially, was still exactly what I needed. And though there were definitely some rough patches and times where she struggled to let go of me as her son, we have now reached a place where she is my in-store defender, a place where my transness is no longer something that causes her to pause for a moment of sad self reflection, a place where our relationship is stronger than its ever been.
For the last few years, we have acted as support for each other. I slept at her two bedroom apartment graduation night and officially moved in the next day. It’s about an hour and a half away from dad’s. We have lived there ever since, just two girls trying to build a better life, two girls not ready or financially able to build new things on our own just yet. A few days after we had reconciled, she filed for divorce from dad. She asked for nothing from him but a clean break.
Mom continues to look through the clearance racks, at least half a dozen more things draped over her arm. I’ve found my way to the jewelry wall. Dangle earrings are a go-to for me. Longer earrings lengthen the neck and help detract from my small, but still apparent, adam’s apple. My eyes immediately jump to round black and animal print design--mom has me pegged to a T, apparently.
Chirp! Chirp! A text notification coming from my purse. As I reach down to pull it out, I notice that my wallet has animal print on it. I may have a problem. The Dreschner Files is already writing itself…
I grab my phone. The lock screen shows ONE NEW MESSAGE in the top box: Happy B--” It’s from dad. I unlock my phone with a few well placed swipes and open the message: Happy Birthday, Alexander.”
Everytime Alexander… Everytime my deadname… The state of Minnesota officially recognizes me as Alexis Christine Harper, not Alexander Charles Harper. My middle name’s no longer his first name. It’s now mom’s. My license says this; my social security card says this; even my birth certificate says this. But, none are convincing to him. I’m still just a “boy in a bra”, devalued by him at every turn.
“Is that your dad?” mom asks, seeming to appear next to me.
“How could you possibly know that, mom? Are you, in fact, clairvoyant?” I nose laugh slightly.
“No, sweetie. Your body posture always changes when you hear from him. What is it this time?”
I shrug and shake my head. “Same as it always is. That name.”
“Did you talk to him about the compromise name?”
“Yeah. He won’t budge. Every year just sends me a single happy birthday text with my deadname. He won’t call me Alex because it would be him taking a step forward in something. And dad is the definition of stagnant.”
Mom just nods her head with sad eyes. “It’s what ultimately drove me away, sweetie.”
“Me too, mom.” I look down at the message on my phone again. “Me too.”
The life of a father is sacrifice, often without any gratitude offered or given. Everything I’ve done for my family has been for nothing.
Twenty two years ago today, I welcomed my only child into this world. He nearly killed Christine getting here. A very long labor followed by even longer ramifications, we had to stay at the hospital for another week so Christine could fully recover. And in that time, I bonded with my boy. He was little despite staying in the oven a week past his due date. I could practically lay him out in my palm. He was tiny, but I already saw him for his towering potential, the man I thought he would become...
I look down at my phone. It’s on the end table next to the open vodka bottle. My message was seen and left there. To think I once held him in my palm... and now he won’t even return my birthday wish. I won’t condone his choices and I can’t be a part of his life anymore. He wants me to accept this. Accept him as a her…
I drink straight from the bottle. The very idea is sickening and leaves an endless pit in my stomach.
… I’ve never been a classically religious man but I still have this undeniable, red blooded American brand of conviction that knows right and wrong. And ‘wrong’ is all I see, all I feel, when I think of Alexander’s path. Lost. Corrupted. Poisoned. Irredeemable. Strength is defined by how much adversity a man can handle without buckling under the weight or running from the fight. So, what is this? My boy was faced with some adversity and decided to reject his birthright altogether, decided he’d rather play dress up and make a fool of himself—
My phone rings. It’s Ally. She’s not much for company outside of a good lay now and then. She definitely doesn’t challenge me like Christine did, doesn’t keep me on my toes. I’m not really looking for that anymore anyways. Real relationships don’t work with my brand of personality. My convictions drive me. They are what led Christine to fall for me; what led her to walk out on me; and ultimately, what led her to file divorce from me. I am who I am. And I don’t apologize for it.
“Hey.” I answer, keeping her on speaker, while I take another drink. The lights in the house are off, only the dull glow of the TV giving off any light. I am sitting in my rocking chair, looking out at the kitchen, thinking about the final fight with Christine.
“Hey babe.” her voice is accompanied by the sound of rustling among other things. “Want some company?” I don’t answer immediately. Instead I find my eyes drifting toward the TV screen, an old John Wayne picture playing with the subtitles on and the sound on mute. Back when men were men—
“Did you hear me?” her voice is still just one of the many sounds coming through the speaker.
“Sorry, you cut out.” I lie. “What was the question again?” I couldn’t be more detached from the conversation.
“Would you like me to come over today?” that’s probably the clearest she has sounded in all the times we’ve talked on the phone.
“Sure. What time?”
“I have a few errands to finish running,” no surprises there, “I’ll be over in a couple hours. Got a couple surprises for you.”
“Okay. See you later today.” Half of the time I wonder if my clear disinterest in her is what keeps her coming around.
“Can’t wait.” her voice is noticeably excited. Why she is excited to see me is a whole other question entirely. I bring nothing to the game.
“See ya when I see ya.” and with that, I hit END on my phone screen and turn MUTE off on the TV. My days off from work always look this way. Some part of me was hoping today would be different. Maybe Alexander would ask me to join him and Christine for his birthday celebration, simply because he appreciates who I’ve always been to him. I’ve always tried to be who he needed. He has to see that, regardless of where we are now.
As I look out to the kitchen, I can almost hear the sound of birthdays from when he was younger–when we were still a family. Christine always carried the cake from the counter, the glow of the candles lighting up her smile as she would sing him ‘Happy Birthday’. And once that was done and the cake was on the table, ready to be cut, she would, of course, choose his piece first. And then she’d choose mine, always letting me lick a small dollop of frosting off her finger. It was never sensual. Just sweet.
There are times I am tempted to do what needs to be done to have it again: accepting Alexander as he has become. It would just be a simple text calling him the name he want–
–If I were to do that, it would require me to betray everything I believe. And, most importantly, if I accept this clown show, who will oppose it? Who will save my son from himself? I miss those days, sure. But at the end of the day, the life of a father is sacrifice. And I will continue to sacrifice for his sake, even if that means I am never included in his life again.
I thought only things died in our house but Lexi has proven me wrong. Though Charles remains as stagnant as ever, Lexi has been growing in my son. At first I viewed her as a separate identity. Something you’d find in Sybil maybe. But the more I’ve come to know her, the more I see that she and Alexander have always overlapped.
There are stages to acceptance in this. The first stage I experienced was learning to categorize it correctly. I first sought RuPaul’s Drag Race for guidance. That was in the first few weeks of our living together. Men dressing in drag, right? Same category as Lexi, obviously. Laughably incorrect and something Lexi and I now joke about. The second stage is reconciling your child as they are now with the child you knew them to be. This remains the toughest for me. I’ve only known about Lexi since graduation night. She is still new to me, not even four years old. The context of who she is has colored a lot of my memories of pre-Lexi, when I thought my child was my son. But now I think about all those times when Alex was quiet when everyone else was talkative or when Alex looked sad when occasions were supposed to be happy. In that way, things make much more sense now.
On the opposite side of it, the side that doesn’t want to let my son go, she feels like an intruder. Just this strange person that has come in and decided this is her life now, loved ones be damned.
We are checking out at the register. I glance at Lexi, seeing her cross her arms while continuing to change her posture. At times she looks so uncomfortable in this skin. Genuine, authentic, but uncomfortable…
“You okay?” I ask.
She just nods her head while her eyes bounce this way and that. “Thanks for everything, mom.” so quiet it’s nearly a whisper.
“You are very welcome, my beautiful, drop dead gorgeous daughter.” I’ve never been good at hiding my discomfort. I always overcompensate with too many words where a few would do the trick. And it clearly makes her feel uncomfortable too. Now her eyes have dropped to the ground. I see another set of eyes behind her, giving her one of those up down brow furrow jobs. I glare directly at the wrinkled old thing giving this expression and she immediately pretends she was looking elsewhere. Not fooling anyone, you old bag.
I imagine I’d stand the same way if random people decided to shame me when I was in line at a store, or walking on the street, or any other hundred options a day presents. She looks uncomfortable because she is, but I don’t think it’s because of Lexi. I think it’s with everyone around her. And I understand why. I hope a day can come where she doesn’t feel that way. I only know I am determined to help her live as happy a life as possible, regardless of what that looks like or requires from me.
Mom spoiled me this year. My newly purchased outfits are a mountain on my bed. They all fit me, on so many different levels. I sometimes still think about how boring clothes used to be for me. A graphic Tee, jeans, and maybe a plaid button down. A boring display for a boring existence.
“Cake is almost ready, Lex.” Mom says from the kitchen. “Have you chosen which outfit you want to wear for the cake cutting slash photo documentation of this, my daughter’s 22nd birthday?” You have to love mom’s overcompensation. It’s clunky and overly wordy and clearly comes from a place of trying more than comfort. For a while she had a hard time adjusting to the reality of me as her daughter. Now she refers to me as ‘daughter’ constantly, almost like she is still reprogramming her mind because she knows what a deadname slip does to me. When misgendered, not even a mountain of clothes can make me feel happy with myself. Instead, in those moments, I only see who I will always be perceived as. And the living reality that is Alexis, the person I have always been, suddenly becomes like some kind of mirage. And the feeling of belonging in any way runs from me.
I don’t talk about it often with anyone, because nobody really understands. Even on their worst day, how many people feel like their identity runs and hides from them? How many people feel like they aren’t legitimate? Oh gender dysphoria. It doesn’t even take the day off on my birthday–
“Lexi?” Mom pops her head in. “Having a hard time choosing?”
I just nod my head.
“Can I chime in?” she asks and I nod again. “Setting ‘The Dreschner Files’ aside, you look great in animal print. And I think the animal print top is simple but striking. You can wear the new pair of skinny black jeans with it too. That will make the black lace just POP.”
Mom helps me feel at home again simply through these small but important moments. I feel like a daughter when she speaks to me this way. Not with that trying-but-uncomfortable wording but simply suggesting what would look best. This is when I feel like I belong.
I turn to her and throw my arms around her. “Thanks, mom.”
She receives it and hugs me even tighter. “Anything for my Lexi.”
I let go after another moment. “You don’t have the candles burning yet, do you?”
“No.” she smiles. “Something told me to hold off.”
“I’m telling you. Clairvoyant.” We both laugh slightly.
“I’ll let you get dressed. See you out there in a few.” she leaves with a somehow graceful but cartoonish exit. Something taken from the book of Kramer.
I take off what I’m currently wearing. It’s still surreal that I not only use a bra daily but have started to actually need one. I look in the full bodied mirror on the closed door. Just a boy in a bra. Dad’s words still hit like a fist to my gut. It makes me physically ill and unable to look at myself anymore. I grab the clothes mom suggested, throw them on quickly, avoiding a full look down at my body. It’s hard not to relive the choppy waters living with dad became after he knew. And though it was only a couple months, he took his shots, making sure I would take him with me even when leaving him behind.
I put on a smile as I leave my bedroom. If I don’t, it will quickly devolve into tears. And mom will then be caught having to lift me up again. There is constant internal overcompensation that comes with transition. A cis daughter can usually cry without having to answer for it. She can be emotional and kind of just let her emotions show. But a trans daughter still has to be aware that life is now a proving ground wherever she goes. I say being Alexis makes me happier. But every tear I show makes my choice seem in question– makes me look unstable.
Something similar to, If you’re happier, why do you seem more sad? or You say you fit as her but you always seem so unsure of yourself now.
How can I ever be sure of myself when simply being me is controversial? Confidence comes from the feeling of security. And in many ways, the first years of transition are like the first years of life: they are built on trial and error. When you are a child, trial and error is expected and accepted; trial and error as an adult raises eyebrows from everywhere.
My confidence is growing as I further discover what I like to wear, how I like to look, how I want to present myself daily–but even after sixteen months, I haven’t figured those things out to a place where it requires no real thought. And until I reach that place, a certain awkwardness will accompany my presentation.
Mom is standing at our faux marble countertop, two bubble font 2s lit in the center of my cookie cake. She dims the light as the glow of the candles suddenly highlights her face in a different way entirely. A big smile brings the start of ‘Happy Birthday’…
I continue to walk toward the counter. Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl is written in light purple in mom’s best frosting calligraphy. “And many more…” The song is over.
“Remember to make a wish.” I do just that and then blow. I wished for the same thing I’ve aimlessly prayed for on desperate nights after disparaged days– to be understood and finally accepted by the very person that makes me feel so very small: my dad.
There is a cloud of uncertainty over me. I don’t know how I got here, standing back in the kitchen. The last thing I remember was being fully reclined in front of the TV, another John Wayne feature playing. At some indeterminate time that changed. It was sudden but unnoticed until I tried to trace back my steps. I’m here, when only moments ago, I was in the living room…
The black bra is in my hands, the cups folded into each other. I can feel them between my fingers. Why am I revisiting a memory from over four years ago? And where is Alexander? The kitchen is empty. I know I am completely alone-- the atmosphere has that distinct hollowness to it. The material of the bra is now my only focus. Soft, unlike the rest of my clothes; tantalizing in a way I can’t really explain. I look down at it, pulling the cups apart so it spreads and inspecting it intently. Old, faded, but very desirable.
I close my eyes as a wave of new, alien feeling covers me. I open them again. I am now standing in a room of mirrors, my shirt off, and the bra still spread out in front of me Everywhere I look it’s me… but not me. Not in the same way I usually am. It’s still my body but something about it is detached. Something about my reflection doesn’t bring me the same contentment anymore. Something is missing. Something is off.
I thread my arms through the straps--
My eyes snap open to the light of the TV. John Wayne, a man’s man, pistol at the ready preparing to win this western standoff. Usually I can find a lot of comparisons between us. We are both refreshingly old fashioned—All I feel is this strange substance sticking to my subconscious, like tar to a white sheet, and suddenly I don’t see our similarities. Instead I see MAN defined and me, Charles Harper, the fake. I try to focus on the TV but instead I’m only thinking about the dream. Why didn’t it fade the way dreams should? It was a dream. Only a dream so help me God…
...Except, that feeling hasn’t left me. There’s this strong current pushing through my body as I think about the simple, black bra and the way it felt in my hands… and how it would feel against my chest, the little hooks fastened firm in the back--
A jolt of a feeling I can’t define launches me out of my chair and in a full sprint to the downstairs bathroom sink. I just need to fully wake up, right? A splash of cold water to the face to remove this sudden mental construction.
…The coldest water isn’t cold enough. My cupped palms continue to splash my face with no result. Water drips from my beard like it’s an old kitchen sponge. The bathroom mirror is covered with new water drops, blocking out most of my image. It just makes me think of the dream. The room of mirrors. My strange displacement. And the immediate, euphoric excitement as I threaded my arms through those bra straps…
I cut that bra up though... All those years ago, cut it up and left it on the counter to make a clear statement to Alexander. I’ve never felt such a level of regret--it’s almost as strong as when I told Christine to leave me. That I can’t begin to wrap my head around. Why is it suddenly so important, so desired, when it’s never been anything to me before? That bra is now a passion, an item I am both fascinated by and something of a missing piece to something inside of me. I don’t know what’s going on. Even now as I try to logically explain any of this, all I can think about is the bra and how it would feel to wear. Logic is removed from the now in such a way that I don’t know if it exists in me.
My body and my will are at odds. I’m controlled by an urge I can’t define, an urge that is all encompassing, profound, and somehow, completely genuine. Water still drips from my beard heavily as I leave the bathroom and step back into the glow of the TV light.
I feel dirty. Dirty for wanting it and sick cause I can’t have it. It would just be to calm the curiosity. Obviously I would look ridiculous with a bra on. My shoulders are broad. My back and my chest are an untamed forest. Obviously I would look rid--
But the fabric. The feel. The unanswered question. My thoughts are now separate from me, as if a second person is speaking. My hands are now trembling as I fumble for my phone. I can’t concentrate on anything else. The fabric. The feel. The unanswered question. This compulsion came from nowhere and is now my most defined reality.
I’ve pulled up a search engine and my fingers are rapidly typing in man wearing a bra. It brings up some ridiculous images of burly men in small bras that look ready to snap from the strain; other images are the farthest thing from this. If they used to appear masculine, they don’t anymore. And I don’t know how to respond to it. There is excitement in me, dirt in me, reluctance in me, and the overwhelming desire to look just like this. And this makes the unanswered question louder and more persistent. What would it feel like?
A knock at my front door.
“Babe. I’m finally here. Sorry it took so long.” Ally is the only one I know who talks before the door is even closed. She steps in from the entryway, multiple bags on each of her arms. “You’re dripping everywhere, babe. Also, why do you never use a light?” if she means to be playful, it only comes across as nitpicking.
“The TV is a light, a good one at that.” my response has no give to it. Don’t like how I operate, you are free to see yourself out.
She shrugs it off and flicks the switch, the living room now lit by the old fan directly above my LA-Z-BOY. “That may be partially true but I think you’re gonna want to see what I got.” her smile is playful as she sets the bags down with a loud THUMP.
She sorts through the bags on the ground, looking for whatever it is. Her red hair is braided into a tight crown. Her lips are painted red, her long nails matching to a T. I’m noticing details about her I usually don’t care to. And for a moment I consider the possibility of a life beyond Christine. What is this new feeling? Is it real attraction? The tar on my subconscious tells me it’s something different. I look at her and I see what I want to see in the mirror. God help me. It’s what I want to see. Put a bra on and look like her–
What is happening to me? Usually I’d respond to her strong feminine expression with my soldier standing at attention. Instead, I am only thinking about myself. Why can’t it be me? Why am I stuck looking like this? She doesn’t realize how lucky she is…
“Found the bag. Fiiinally.” she rolls her eyes with a smile as if to admit she has a shopping problem. “I think you’re really gonna like this.” She pulls three bras from the bag, the kind with lace trimming the edges. One is bright blue, one is leopard print, and one is black. Black and new.
“Which one do you want me to wear, Charlie?”
“The leopard print one.” she smiles and does a wink and a growl. “You gonna show me something tonight, Tiger?” usually the soldier would be storming the lines by now. Instead I’m thinking only about the opportunity. I told her leopard print so she would leave the black one behind. It’s become more and more clear: the only way to calm the curiosity is to put one on.
A boy in a bra is the farthest thing from legitimate. Like a tape recorder being pushed from someplace in my mind, I vividly remember saying these words and now audibly hear them. And they immediately hit me like a spotlight. I am as naked as I’ve ever been and what has been revealed is my own hypocrisy. Has this desire always been in me?
Ally is in the bathroom now, the black bra draped over the arm of my recliner, the bright blue one directly under it. The opportunity is now. Except I find myself fishing for my phone in my jeans pocket instead. I pull up the unanswered text and write something new.
-Happy Birthday, Alex-
I hit send. And immediately, whatever desire I felt has fallen away from me. The tar is gone from my subconscious but will forever remain stained in my memory. I don’t know how to account for this flash of experience, this walk in someone else’s shoes. I only know it felt intentional, like someone, or something, wanted me to experience it…
Lexi is sitting on the couch, her legs crossed, the other half of her slice of cake still left on her paper plate. She’s trying to keep her smile on for me. And God knows I tried to make her day special. I don’t think younger Christine would have ever believed that her constant daydreams about the daughter I wanted but was never able to conceive, would come true in a very real but entirely different way. Doctors always said it would be too much for me to handle, that our one child had damaged my reproductive system irrevocably and to have another could—not worth going down that road again… We didn’t listen and tried our way regardless. We tried to conceive again, not long after Alexand— I still have to catch myself at times… Not long after Alexis was born. Mom’s sorry, my sweet girl…
… We tried not just once, not just a slip up from too much wine. It was ongoing. I even used the app on my phone to track my windows to know when peak ovulation is, and I even bought a sam’s club bulk pack of pregnancy tests . Despite a time or two of being late for my monthly and some mild spotting, nothing ever came of it. Probably some kind of answer to a prayer we didn’t pray.
I always wanted a daughter. And even though that has always been true, seeing a daughter emerge from who I thought was my son has stretched me in ways I never knew possible. It’s not so much that I struggle to accept it. The simple answer to this increasingly complicated reality is that the pieces don’t fit easily for me. The books I’ve been reading, a select variety of those pertaining to parents of transgender children, try and make it seem so effortless: just remember, the person you love hasn’t truly changed; they are still your child.
Yes. Still my child. But who is my child? Meeting Lexi eighteen years into my child’s life was unexpected, to say the least. And though she has told me time and again that my leaving had nothing to do with her desire to transition, it’s hard not to feel like I inadvertently started this ball rolling. Maybe that’s just Charles talking. Him throwing words at her meant to put all the blame on me. I’m willing to shoulder the blame, absolutely, but what I’ve seen over the last almost four years is genuine transformation. If Lexi were only here because I left, how do I account for the last four years? If she was just situational, a response to the female presence in her life leaving, how do I account for the 24/7 reality? The makeup tutorials she constantly watches? The mass collection of jewelry and earrings? The mountain of clothes she has accrued, outfits that I can’t deny are absolutely adorable? Her legal name and gender marker change? If she was just a response to a trauma I caused, as our relationship continues to improve, wouldn’t you think her desire to live as Lexi would fade?
I will never forgive myself for leaving without taking her with me, because the trauma I can’t deny being on me is the fact she had to live with her father for another year. And that year has affected her confidence in ways I still can’t fully explain. Charles doesn’t understand what he does to her. Or maybe he does. He is in her head daily, the always disapproving voice, the pointer finger on a pendulum, the antithesis of who I try to be for her. As far as I’ve been told, she has not seen him since she moved out of the house and moved in with me. And if that’s true, apart from a damaging text on each of her birthdays since, her atmosphere has been cleaned of him entirely. And still, he is here. And he haunts like the worst kind of ghost. Not quietly drifting like you often envision when you think of ghosts. No. The kind of ghost that Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd encounter, the kind that leaves a trail of goo in its wake…
“Are you full, Lexi?” I ask, trying to break the silence that threatens to take over this night. It’s the same posture as today in the checkout line.
She responds by looking up at me while taking another obligatory small bite. “No. Just thinking, mom. The cake is really good. Thank you so much for making it for me. I love everything you’ve done for me today.” she looks down at her animal print top, her initial burst of confidence that came from wearing it now mostly replaced by uncertainty.
I wish I could tell her how beautiful I think she is. But there is such a thing as laying it on too thick that it no longer feels genuine. When I do that I seem to get awkward and overly wordy. And, I think it actually has the opposite effect of how I intend. I’m not exactly uncomfortable with the situation; I just want to rescue her. I want to pick her up and tell her how she can conquer the world. Is that reality speaking? Probably not. I know her life will be an uphill climb. I know it will probably include a lot more tears than I ever hoped my child would cry. And I imagine, to my own dismay, that she will see much more heartbreak continue in her daily life than most. But a mother can hope, envision, hell, even pray when desperate enough, that my trans child doesn’t have to suffer for the rest of her life. Though the world can be cruel, I can cushion that blow while I am here.
“There is one more gift I got you, Lexi.” she looks up toward me again, her curiosity carrying a smile.
“You’ve already gotten me so much today, mom.” she talks quietly, her voice sometimes falling to a whisper. “You’ve done so much.” a genuine smile, it seems.
“As long as there is breath in these here lungs,” I’m trying to carry some levity as I point to my chest but all I hear is how cringeworthy it sounds. I think there was a squeak in there somewhere. Lame mom alert! “I can, and I will, always do more.”
Her smile carries light with it. I can only hope she skates over how cliche I can sound when I’m in rescue mode.
“This isn’t really the kind of gift you wrap.” I’ve been waiting to give her this one for years. It has been a culmination of our journey together so far and hopefully proof to her that, though I may not always succeed at showing it, I am fully, and forever, in her corner.
The gift has been out in plain sight all night. A laminated sheet of paper on the other side of the sink. I grab it, holding each side with the kind of care the moment calls for. Lamer mom, alert!
“I want to preface this first with a disclaimer, okay?” Could I be any more awkward? I feel like I’m back in speech class, my palms are all sweaty and I’m blinking rapidly. I’ve envisioned this moment so many times. How she’ll respond and how my intentions will land.
She just nods with her eyes wide with anticipation. I now have her full attention.
“Um, the disclaimer is this. Please do not see this as anything other than my putting ducks in a row. I feel like I should say drum roll.” I laugh but inside I am shrinking away with embarrassment. LAMEST MOM, ALERT!!
Lexi doesn’t seem to notice as she uses her two pointer fingers as drum sticks with a small laugh. “You sure know how to build anticipation!” there is another laugh in there somewhere.
“As you know your mom is a planner.” she nods in a response that immediately says obviously. “And I’ve been planning for what comes next since you popped your first pill of HRT. When you first told me how you felt, you knowing with certainty that you had been born wrong, I wondered where it would lead. Not out of fear, exactly, but just as something I could prepare for. How far did I need to grow? essentially. I don’t believe you’ve ever discussed this with me, and I may be totally off in left field bringing it up,” I see her immediately start to have a hint of discomfort slipping back over her. “Without further ado.” and with that, I take the few steps from our open kitchen to the couch she is sitting on and hand her the laminated sheet.
She grabs it from me. I think both of our hands are trembling for different reasons. She looks at it, mouth immediately agape. “This proves it, mom. You are, in fact, clairvoyant. How did you know?”
“I didn’t exactly. But this is just the stage, Lexi. The gift is what you don’t see.”
All discomfort has fallen away from her and there is a growing sense of excitement. Her shoulders raised, her posture improved, her smile extended and sincere.
“I have made many phone calls to find out what’s covered, what isn’t covered, etc… Thanks to Obama, you are still covered under my insurance for exactly three years and three hundred and sixty four more days. The procedures you see on this sheet are covered and well within the realm of possibility.”
I read her expression at every word and it’s here where I see tears start to fill her eyes. But that smile is still there, still strong, still bright.
“I know this is where it has been leading from day one. And the gift is not only the fact that you can pursue this as soon as you feel ready–
“I’m ready.” she interrupts with a laugh. “I’ve been ready since day one.”
“I figured.” I smile. “Lexi. This is still the stage. The gift is this. I have been setting money aside for the last two years and have accrued what I call “Lexi’s nest egg”. I don’t know exactly what your future plans are, but, if you let the mother of all planners plan out the next couple years of your life, I can give you a chance at as normal a life as possible.”
“What’s on the agenda?” she asks, a clever quip. I don’t even know how to describe her emotions. I guess the simple description is what every parent hopes to see on their child’s special day is what I am seeing now. There is gratitude and hope and laughter… and a sense that she fully understands that none of this was easy on me, that she realizes how much I’ve had to stretch myself to reach this point. The stark reality of accepting a trans child is to kill the dreams you had for them and let them tell you what their dreams are instead. It is truly a journey of selflessness and not an easy one for me, master planner extraordinaire, to admit my willingness to forfeit. I imagined grandbabies and a daughter in law who fought me tooth and nail to wrestle the reins of his heart away from my hands.
I still grieve the loss of those dreams, because they were mine. They were my dreams, what I wanted to see for my child. It was mine. I’ve had to accept that what is mine isn’t hers. And as I’ve let myself start to envision a different future for my daughter, the spark of the planner has returned in full force. I’ll never get those things in the same way I envisioned. But that doesn’t mean there won’t still be grand babies and a son/daughter in law to wrestle with. It just means it won’t look as I initially imagined. And I’ve accepted that, even though the sadness of what can never be will always remain in some way. It’ll be there in the same way a shadow casts off from something real.
… Who am I to say my version of events would have been better? What if my son had been born right and modeled after his father to a T? And though there would maybe be grandbabies, would he also treat them how his father had treated him? Would he be a big empty space instead of a needed presence? Would he just provide without caring to care for those he was providing for? Or what if he never found the woman ready to go toe-to-toe with me for the reins? What if he drank too much, like his dad? Or what if he did find her but was verbally abusive and took every opportunity to bleed on his spouse because she could at least sop up some of the mess with her own missing spaces? What if–
“Mom.” Lexi brings me back. “What’s on the agenda?” her eyes are dry now, as she stares at me intently, ready to listen.
“I was thinking whatever surgeries you want to pursue, you get them taken care of before you are twenty six. All of them, Lexi. And though it may be pushing things to expect you to live with me for another four years, I think we should use this time to get you set up for the rest of your life. Because, sweet girl, once you are out on your own, the reality of getting these procedures, any procedures really, becomes far more complicated. You’ve already joked how you are kind of like a thirteen year old girl right now. Let’s look at it that way then. You are still young on this journey and the world is a cruel place.” I imagine we both are thinking about the people who stared with those judging eyes at her today. “Let me help give you the biggest step up that I can.”
She seems to look through me, her eyes scanning me. Scanning me for what? I don’t know. “You’ll never understand what this means to me, mom. I never thought I’d have a real future. I never thought it was possible. The best I was hoping for was maybe some level of understanding with you and dad. Not expecting either of you to fully understand but to just accept that it is what it is. Wa-what you’ve done,” there is a distinct quiver to her lip. “What you’ve done is let me hope for much more than I ever thought possible. Thank you doesn’t begin to make up for it–”
“I just want you to be okay, my sweet girl. And what is a mother made for if not to give her child the best possible chance at just that? I–”
CHIRP! CHIRP! Lexi’s phone interrupts what I was saying. She grabs it from the end table, and does one of those classic girl hand-over-the-mouth gestures.
“What is it?” I ask.
“Um. A te-text. From dad. Happy birthday, Alex.”
And I immediately see her expectations jump from the level tonight helped establish to something even higher. Could her future actually include us both? Before I was interrupted by the text notification, I was going to tell her ‘okay’ is the best to shoot for. ‘Okay’ is sturdy, storm proof. But I can already see she is aiming for ‘happy’. And the downside of ‘happy’ is its reliance on the situation. When the sun is out, all is good and right with the world. But what about when the storm clouds come?
Charles, you slime. Don’t you dare try to come in with one small, infinitesimal gesture and undo reality. You aren’t capable of walking this journey. You may be able to meet our daughter at ‘Alex’ instead of her deadname but how far are you able to stretch? I fear our daughter already expects the world, when all you have to give is the smallest of compromises: using a unisex nickname…
Is this an olive branch? Is it some kind of answered prayer? Dad’s second text sits on my phone, just waiting for a response. This can’t just be a mistake. He has sent my deadname every single time. This is intentional. To not answer would be stupidly stubborn on my part.
The need to respond is now pulsing. But what to say? And even more so, after all mom has done for me, dad can wait. I hate the remnants of Alexander that remain in me, that confused son who still wants his father’s approval above all else. It shouldn’t matter more than my relationship with mom. It doesn’t. She shouldn’t, and can’t, be back burnered because he decided to be a human for one moment. I’ll text him back sometime tonight but now it’s about her, about the woman who has given up so much to give me a chance.
I pull up the power button on my phone and hit POWER OFF. He is back burnered. A real gesture meant to show her what is truly important in the moment.
“I’m finding I’m a planner too, mom. I think now we need to get down to brax tax, as us planners commonly say.” not sure if that’s true or not.
“I think you mean brass tacks, Lexi.” Mom sits down next to me with a snicker. “It’s kind of like the common mispronunciation of all ‘intents and purposes’. Either way, yes, my dear, let us get down to brass tacks for all intents and purposes.”
“The master at work.” I say before leading into my main thought. “As you correctly assumed, maybe even deduced, I have done plenty of research and know where I want to be and what I dislike most about my face–”
“I know it is of no regard but I don’t dislike anything about your face.”
“Thank you, mom. But the reality is much of my face reads male. And that’s when you get stares, and are called names, and offend people just for being you. So, though I know you don’t dislike my face, this is what I hope to change. If you looked at our side profiles together you would see those subtle but very important differences. The male brow bone doesn’t flow off the nose like with most women, like it does with you, for example.” I trace my finger a few inches from her face, showing the difference in slopes. Hers like a waterfall; mine just some random strokes meeting at the top of the bridge. “Mine is just like this cliff. I also call it the neanderthal brow. So I need my forehead worked on, my brows lifted a touch, my chin softened and the sides of my jaws, the mandible I think, to be shaved down to a more feminine contour. I’ve watched plenty of videos of the procedures and I know what to expect. Like what cuts are made and what scars I’ll have–”
“I would expect nothing less from you, Lexi.” Mom pauses for a moment. “I don’t want to ask that all-intrusive question that everyone assumes with trans people but brass tacks and everything means we need to formulate a plan. Do you want bottom surgery?”
Ah, the question. One I’ve wrestled with since my body became aware of that thing between my legs, the thing that responds when I don’t want it to, makes itself known when I’d prefer it would hide away in secret. I had a girlfriend when I was sixteen, or maybe it was seventeen, and it was featured at times. And it felt good when it worked but was also awkward. She would respond with sounds of pleasure while I would try and stifle mine, because mine felt dirty and wrong and, when honest, not organic. Even then it was like waking up one day to find I was forever saddled with a shortwired piece of machinery. When I needed it to fully respond, it worked at half capacity. She would ask what’s wrong and I’d have to try and act like I understood why it functions the way it does. I don’t know… it was working fine earlier. When it needs to work, to do the job it’s apparently there to do, it malfunctions. Any other time, all bets are off. So, do I want bottom surgery? Let’s just put it this way. If I woke up tomorrow and it was gone, I wouldn’t give it another thought. So…
“Yeah. I do.” I answer in the kind of upfront but awkward way the moment calls for. We don’t need to dig in.
“Are you aware of everything that goes with it?” Mom hasn’t skipped a beat, just like we’re talking about doing chores or something. Her eyes are also wide to show there may be some things I don’t know.
“Umm,” there are moments of expectation versus reality. Never in any of my expectations did talking in depth about bottom surgery with my mom factor in. It’s kind of like a dream come true/worst nightmare hybrid. “I’ve done the brunt of my research on facial feminization surgery and breast augmentation.”
“Okay. Well I’ve done my research on it and it’s quite extensive. It is easily the most challenging of the three.” she’s pulling out post-it notes from her pocket… “Number one. Electrolysis of the genitals. Nine to twelve months of treatment is needed on the area at the base of the shaft and between the anus so hair doesn’t grow in your new vagina, which could lead to terrible infections.” Ummm, is this actually happening? “Number two. Lifetime dilation. Once the procedure is done, a few days after you start recovery you will need to dilate so the depth and functionality remains. This will be extensive at first. A few times a day with increasing sizes. Once all is healed up you will need to do this once a week for the rest of your life. Number 3. The middleground: zero depth vaginoplasty. No dilation needed but also no sexual functionality aka no insertion.”
Do I look like a deer in the headlights? I suppose I always assumed I would be the one to be most knowledgeable about the ins and outs of my journey. Instead my mom is sitting me down like a doctor and talking through options. Her openness is both refreshing and horrifying. Is it strange to discuss these things with her? If not her, who? Nobody else has signed up to walk through this with me. So, Alexis Christine Harper, set aside your prepubescent embarrassment and let’s get down to brass tacks for all intents and purposes!
“I-I guess I haven’t given it the thought you have, mom. Stupid of me, I know.”
“Not stupid, Lexi. But you will need to decide what you want to do. You aren’t just getting rid of what’s there, you are replacing it with something that requires much more upkeep. Is lifetime dilation a fair exchange for you to feel complete in your body? All questions you have to ask yourself. And remember, you are just as valid regardless of what you decide.”
Those are the kinds of things you hope a mom will say when you first imagine the reality of transition. To have someone totally in it with you, regardless of the fragile nature–I am blessed.
“Can I ask how you’re talking about this with such ease, mom?”
“Lexi.” she pauses, putting down her post-it notes. “Your mom operates on compartmentalization. I have to.”
There it is. It’s not easy on her and I don’t expect it ever will be. She puts her mind to something and pushes GO. And with me, she’s decided that she’s in it. Does it still hurt her? I’m sure it always will in some way. And I know she is doing it for me. And that’s when this sting of guilt flows through me and I second guess everything. Not because it’s not what I want–-it’s everything I want. But, I also don’t want to hurt those I care about.
“You don’t have to do this, mom.” I give her an out that she deserves to have. “I–
“Yes, Lexi. I do. I am with you to the ends of the earth.” she closes her eyes for a moment and when they open back up, her guard is there again. “Back to it, then?” she grabs her post-it notes and draws in a long breath. It seems we still have much to discuss…
The text message I sent has been looked at but no typing bubble. Maybe it was too small of an olive branch to offer. Try again tomorrow, maybe.
How strange it is to want something so bad one moment and then not want it at all the next. The bras are still slung over the arm; Ally is still in the bathroom, getting ready for our night together. Whatever that slice of someone else’s experience was, my child’s experience I imagine, it has given me a different perspective on myself. And I know what I need to do now.
“Ally!” I have to yell since the vent in the bathroom is automatic. She opens the door immediately, her heavy cleavage the first thing I see, the bra struggling to hold the weight. And of course my soldier says put it off until after. And I hate to admit that the Charles from earlier today would have done just that.
“What is it, babe?” she asks as she steps toward me with purpose.
“I can’t do this to you. You deserve someone better. What you see is what you get with me. We need to break up. Now. Tonight. I’m sorry to have ruined your plans.”
“I don’t know what you thought this was, Charlie.” her face hasn’t changed. “It was always just sex. You’re good at it. But conversation? I might as well be talking to myself. Our plans don’t need to be ruined. Let’s do what I came here to do one final time, eh, Tiger?”
Didn’t go the way I expected. Before I say another thing I approach her and pull her to me. I am taller than her by a number of inches and she is not very heavy. I lift her up, she wraps her legs around me, immediately pushing her tongue down my throat as we make our way toward the bedroom. One final time. Exactly what the soldier asked for. I’ll take it as a consolation prize for trying to be a better man.
I envy parents who will never have to experience the discomfort that comes from talking about bottom surgery with your trans daughter. Even more so having to educate your trans daughter on the ins and outs involved. I thought the birds and the bees would be the toughest conversation we ever had to have. And that mostly fell on Charles. I sat in the room with them to steer the conversation in case it lacked the needed information. And all in all, it went well. Charles was very up front and blunt with his verbiage but Alex was old enough to understand. I thought the most difficult conversations were behind us. At absolute worst I thought maybe he would have sex too young and knock some girl up and come home to tell us how he forgot to use a condom. Something like that at least registers on a mother’s radar for things to prepare for.. Lexi did not. There was no blip where I thought ‘someday I just may be talking to my child about genital reassignment surgery options’. But under the umbrella of brass tacks, we got it done.
Lexi’s birthday celebration is done and after a long conversation that never wasn’t uncomfortable to some extent, she said she wanted to go to her room, that she still had some homework to do. She made another quip about the Dreschner Files not writing itself. It may just be a joke but I truly hope that paper is written at some point. How can you have such a perfect name and not use it?
As far as how I’m feeling about the night. I can’t help but feel scared. I was flabbergasted, and now I’m frankly incredibly concerned that so little research had been done on Lexi’s part in regards to bottom surgery. How can you say you want to remove such a vital part of you without even researching what the other side of it looks like? I know my daughter wants to be whole but I don’t want to think she’ll regret any of it. I believe she is informed about facial feminization and breast augmentation because it’s easy. It requires a rest period and some taking it easy until things have healed; bottom surgery is different. It is a responsibility from day one until the day you die. And if the proper care isn’t given, it can lead to irreparable damage. As much as I hate to say it, this won’t be the last conversation we have about this topic…