Failing to see any humor in having to correct him again, I responded sternly with “It is pronounced MOM.” Living in Forest Park, Georgia growing up, the old world was alive and strong. If you did not fit into the idea of what you were supposed to be then you kept whatever it was a secret. Even years into my adult life family secrets were kept close to the chest. My Dad was three years into knowing about my transition and I found his reluctance to accept me insulting and disrespectful. In fact I had arrived at a point in my life that I just wanted people to pick a side. Accept me or don’t! Quit wasting my time with making me justify my own pronouns and titles. Why just getting butter from the fridge has to be a misgendering event at this point is beyond my understanding.
“I HAD NEVER HEARD THE TERM “TRANSGENDER” BUT I KNEW I WAS DIFFERENT.”
Twenty years earlier I couldn’t take it anymore. My edges were fraying like an old tattered ragdoll. I had never heard the term “transgender” but I knew I was different. This torment had followed me around now for as long as I could remember. As every day went by my 15 year old body betrayed me more and more. It was driving me mad and I knew something needed to be fixed. Either my brain or my body needed to fixed. Personally I wanted the body to be fixed more than anything. This night I couldn’t take it anymore. I walked through the dark house to my mother’s room and slowly opened the door. She was asleep like the rest of the house. I leaned in and hesitated for a moment. Once I said this out loud there was no taking it back. “My mom and I were close and talked about stuff all the time, she would help me.” I said to myself quietly. My hand slowly shook her shoulder and her eyes opened.
“What is it Johnny?” she looked confused.
The fear ran through my spine like an electric shock. “I need to show you something.”
“Okay?” she slowly rose from the bed.
We walked to my room and there I had a small assortment of women’s clothing stashed under the bed. I pulled it out like precious treasure. To me it was my only corridor to feeling normal and right. We had no Internet or computers and there was no one that I could talk to about this.
“Mom… I need to show you this.”
“What is this?” she said as she picked up the articles one by one with her two fingers as if she was handling a soiled diaper.
“I wear them to feel like a girl.” I mumbled. The terror of the situation was starting to really take hold now.
“Boys don’t do this!” she said sternly as she slammed the clothes down in the box. “This is wrong! This is not how boys act!” she started to walk away with the box and I stopped her.
“Mom! Wait! I need those! I need your help!” I was frantic. If she took the box I would be stuck as Johnny!
“No! Go to bed. I will talk to your Dad when he gets home and we will deal with you tomorrow.”
The door closed as the tears welled up in my eyes. My stomach turned in knots as I realized what just happened. Lying in bed crying I lay there for the next seven hours. The next day I was told that she did not tell my Dad but if she caught me again she would. Our relationship would never recover. She never talked to me as her friend again. I was a nuisance to her now. Months later I would have to go to Dr. Stone, who was going to fix me. My testosterone and Prozac medications would be rationed out to me over the next year driving me further into madness. I thought this meant that if I loved someone I needed to hide what I was.
When I decided to come out and tell people about myself, there was some trepidation about how the news would be received. The first person I came out to was Ailani’s biological mom. I took her out to dinner because I needed to know if she would have a problem with my transition. I needed to make sure she wouldn’t fight me for custody. I was so nervous and worried. She would be the first person I would tell since my Mom seventeen years earlier. With my hands shaking I picked up the margarita pitcher for another glass.
“What is wrong with you tonight?” she said with a confused look. She could see my hands shaking.
“I have something to tell you and it is very important”
The next fifteen minutes would be spent babbling and dancing around what I wanted to say until it finally came out.
“I am transgender.”
“IN ONE WORD SHE CAUSED AN INTERNAL AWAKENING TO AN ENTIRELY NEW WORLD.”
She stared at me for a second waiting for the punch line. Her answer would change everything I knew about myself and my world. In one word she caused an internal awakening to an entirely new world.
She shrugged her shoulders and said “Okay.”
For the past three years I have fought hard to be called “Ma’am, Mom, she, and Jennifer.” I have come to realize that I deserve to be who I want to be just as much as anyone in this world. For years there was an internal transphobia that lived within me. I believed I was wrong after being told that for so many years, but now I know that I am just as beautiful and right for this world as the next person.