Fractured Father's Day

by - 11:45 AM

A few nights ago I arrived home from my overnight shift and found my house filled with the smell of fresh baked brownies.

My little girl had made them with her mommy.

It was Father’s Day.

I was ruined.

I was ashamed.

I had been dreading this day for a month now. Putting up displays in the store I work in, I fought back tears as the waves of disquiet threatened to pull me out into a sea of guilt.

Father’s Day has always been cherished by my daughter. She is a tender child and loves these special days, she celebrates them with gusto, handmade cards and letters written in the over-large handwriting of a seven year old fill our house as she lavishes love on us.

Father’s Day means things to her that it never meant to me, as my Father was distant and cold. I didn’t feel the love of a daddy in my life. So as the word daddy slowly fades out of our home I worry about what this change will mean for my daughter's future.

Being Transgender has a way of muddying waters that no one really knows how to filter. There are books on step parenting and books on single parenting, there are books on being a homosexual parent and there are books on dealing with the death of a parent.
But where is the book to explain to a seven year old about where her daddy went and who the woman is that took his honored place?

This year as Father’s Day crept closer I found my heart being repeatedly drawn into the pain of my own Father’s denial of my existence. I was drawn into the words he spoke to me as he hugged me, a final time for an already rare occurrence, and let me know that what I am is unacceptable even as he embraced me.
Jesus was betrayed with a kiss.
I was forsaken with a hug.

A month or so ago my spiritual mentor and dearest friend said something to me that will not leave. It has come to roost in the eaves of my mind and has set up a cozy nest there mocking me with how right it seems.

“You cannot kill the person you were. He gave you your daughter. God gave him to you and you cannot turn away from him. You must find a way for him to live and for you to accept him”

As is often the case when someone says something absolutely right, my first instinct was to deny it.
But the more I dwelt on her words the more they gained a powerfully relentless clarity.
The little bird in the rafters had become a griffin, and it was staring at me hungrily.

A year ago I went through something much similar. Brought on by what I considered my “Last Father’s Day” I had entered a period of anger at the unfairness of my situation. I had ranted and cursed and struck out angrily at God. “Why God would you make me this?” I said “What purpose could you have had for this half-formed amalgam of bitter flesh?” I stared down at my body in frightful hatred and wept as I meditated on the word so callously used in my childhood home for those like me. “Abomination”. In those moments I felt it. I was a fusion of mixed flesh and wrongness. I was Chimera desperately longing for Bellerophon.

Into the twisting agony God spoke to me.

What she said changed my life.

God spoke to me and said, “Thank Me”.

I sat in the growing silence as those words echoed around my mind and finally, angrily, furiously, I spat out the words as an accusation against God himself. “Thank you for making me Transgender”

When I spoke those words a damn broke. Even though I said them in anger, even though I aimed them like a knife thrown into heaven, even though I meant them as little as I had ever meant anything I had ever said in my life. Even Though. They changed me.

This became my Mantra in the coming weeks, and when I feel particularly angry at the unfairness of who I am, it is still my path out of bitterness.

“God, thank you for making me Transgender”

“God, I don’t know why you thought I could handle this, but thank you for making me Transgender”

“I felt like me for the first time today God, thank you for making me Transgender”

“I hate you and I hate what I am, I wish you had let me die…..Thank you for making me Transgender”

“I think I saved someone’s life today, Thank you so much for making me Transgender”

“Damn you, why do you make me thank you? Thank you for this.”

“God I don’t know what else to do, I’m losing everything I love but you. Thank you for making me in your Image.”

“Thank You for making me, Me.”

“Thank You”

“Thank You”

“Thank You”

There have been times when this prayer has been nothing, and times when it has meant everything. Times when it rang out like a cold bell on an empty world and times it reminded me of the vibrancy of diverse creation.

As I laid down to sleep on Father’s Day morning I said my prayer. After crying with worry over my daughter, and honestly hurting from the reminder that I didn’t have the privilege or capability to carry my child myself,  I said it one more time.

I want to tell you I didn’t still feel twinges of pain that evening.
I want to tell you I grew up and accepted that the day doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to my little girl.
I want to tell you that I accepted my dual roles that instant and was filled with joy.
I can’t.
Prayer almost never works that way.

That night I worked hard to make sure I didn’t wear the face of someone whose heart was broken, but instead wore the face of someone whose daughter loves her.
I wore him. I wore the lessons I had learned staring down those decades of wearing a mask. I made sure my cherished daughter caught a glimpse of him. And for the first time in a long time I was thankful for him because, without him I wouldn't have the child of my heart.

No, my prayer didn’t fix everything, and it didn’t remove the pain.
What it did though, is remind me that I am two people.
It reminded me that I have to be.
It’s how I was made.
I wasn't made like most other girls.
I have to be okay with that.

It did one other thing as well.
As I dwelt on the problems and joys of parenting, it reminded me that, yes, I am a father as well as a mother.
And while that is a very hard duality to live in, It’s the one my God lives in.
And if my God can be a Transgender parent, maybe I can learn to thank Her for the opportunity to live in Her image.
And maybe my daughter will be just fine.

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