Crossing the T

Life at the intersection of Church and Trans with Rev. Allyson Robinson

“I love you as much today as I did the day you were born.”

My Dad was the last to know.

I knew it would be hard for him. The most important responsibility our culture assigns its fathers is the transmission of masculinity to their sons, and so I worried that he would blame himself for my choice to drop the masculine mask I wore for so long. I worried that he would agonize over all the ways my transition might affect me adversely and wouldn’t be able to see how healthy and happy I was finally becoming. I worried that he would feel like he was losing a friend, and that he might never recover from his grief enough to give our new friendship a chance to begin.

I never worried, though, that my father would reject me. It’s hard to put my finger on precisely why. He just wasn’t that kind of person. Maybe my intuition was based in my experience of his love as absolutely without conditions. Maybe it grew from the value I knew he placed on loyalty. I think sometimes you just know who you can count on in this world, and I knew I could count on my Dad.

I wanted to tell him in person, face to face. I hoped to sit down with him and Say the Words. In the end, though, it didn’t turn out that way. He knew something was wrong, and he was really worried, and he was losing sleep, and it was time for him to know the truth. But distance and circumstances conspired to prevent me from being able to go and tell it to him, so instead, I wrote him a letter.

Before I sent the letter, my Dad and I would speak by phone several times a week and exchange email about as often. After I sent the letter, it was over three weeks before I heard from him. The silence wasn’t unexpected; I knew he would need some time to absorb the truth, figure out how he should respond, and find the strength to do it. I was genuinely relieved, though, when he called me one day during my afternoon commute.

“Let’s talk about your letter,” he said after pleasantries.

“Okay.”

“Your news really surprised me, but I want you to know right now that I love you as much today as I did the day you were born.”

My Dad is a person who chooses his words carefully, and as a father myself, I understood exactly what those words meant. I know how it feels to hold your newborn child for the very first time. I know what that kind of love is like.

But I knew it would be hard, and to be honest, it has been for both of us. My Dad and I have struggled to reestablish our relationship. He has found it supremely difficult to talk about my trans-ness with me or even to call me by my new name, and I have wrestled with anger, impatience, and frustration. He has yet to see me in person as I am today, a logical “next step” that I fear circumstances are going to force on him before he feels ready for it. I’m ashamed to confess that I have occasionally questioned the character of his love for me. “He says he loves me,” I’ve said to myself, “but love is as love does.”

And then today, he called me–on the anniversary of the day I was born. Just to tell me he loves me, and to wish me a happy birthday.

Thanks for the call, Dad. It means more than you know.

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7 Comments»

  Abby wrote @

I understand your frustration with getting to the place of complete acceptance of you as Allyson. Of course, as you already know, your father’s declaration of his undying love for you is a great gift. The rest will come in time, when Spirit deems it right.

  loriannetucson wrote @

Having lost my father to cancer two years ago (which also precipitated my own losing control of gender dysphoria), I had longed for the day I’d hear those words spoken to me by my own father. Sadly, that will never be the case, but our relationship at the end grew to that where I probably could have shared this with him. The great thing I have experienced is that I’ve been told that same thing from my mother and a host of other family members. Congrats on it coming directly from your father!
-Lori

  Sarah wrote @

This was difficult for me to read, and it’s not just the tears welling up in my eyes. Your father sound like he is a wonderful, loving person and that you are able to talk about things even if it’s not face to face.
I didn’t address how i feel about my father in my thoughts about Father’s Day which I have posted on our blog, because I only have him in my live until I was 23. He passed away only a few month before my first child was born; his first grandchild. There is no way to measure how my life would be different if he had lived.
It took almost two years before I finally stood at his grave as Sarah to explain how I came to be Sarah and ask for his blessing and forgiveness.

Sarah

  anita wrote @

Allyson,

You said all that so beautifully with honesty and compassion. I’m so glad your father came through to say what he did after he had time to absorb what you’d shared in the letter, and so happy for the phone call you received on your birthday. I still carry one letter of only a few sentences my mom sent to me several years ago that meant the world to me, so to the extent I can understand, I do. I pray (in the true sense of the word) that when the time comes for your dad to see you as you are today that more than anything else he’ll see you as the child he’s always loved through all the stages of your life, even to this occasion of being who you always knew you were. You’re a beautiful woman with a beautiful soul Allyson and my hope for you is that’s what he’ll be able to see with his father’s heart.

  Lindsey wrote @

My mom says that there is nothing more painful than seeing your children become something other than what you feel is best for them, but nothing more wonderful than learning to love each other as adults.

Your father gave you the most incredible gift by stating his love at such a hard time and giving you something to hold on to as he goes through the process of relearning who you are.

And you can hold on to it. Some day you will learn to befriend each other as father and daughter, and on that day God will be rejoicing in heaven.

  Vanessa wrote @

Your compassion and love is heart warming. I haven’t told my parents about my trans-ness. Yet, I think. Like you I know that my dad would love me no matter what, yet I fear that slight twinge of disappointment in his eyes, the sound of sorrow being withheld in his voice.

Part of me still wants to make him proud. Or keep him proud, since he’s always been open about how much he loves me, and how he is proud of me.

  Allyson wrote @

Thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts and your stories. I’ll be drawing strength from them as things progress with my dad, and I’m happy to know I’ll have you to rejoice with me at the final outcome. I feel very blessed to have you as my sisters and my friends.


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