Breaking a two year silence with my Dad and Grandmother.
I left D*** early Saturday afternoon and made my way to H***. As I drove through the W***, I had a sudden inkling to stop by in S***. My hometown North of H***. It was on the way to my pal’s place to the inner loop anyway. I got gas and went into a store. I was a bit nervous because I knew for a fact I could run into my parents at any moment. It’s a Saturday night. They’re either at home doing a church thing, or at someone elses home doing a church thing. 50/50 shot of being home. 95% chance of doing a church thing.
Ok. I thought to myself. I’m gonna snoop and just…watch the house. My morbid curiosity took a hold of me. I was drawn to it, knowing it could go wrong. My parents could ignore me at the door. Or scream at me. I drove the car through the back way and drove through the gates. Code was the same. Music was off. A different mood overtook me; quite different from my 3 hour jam session of Pat Benatar and Whitney Houston.
I passed by the house several times and it was…quiet. Just a single light in the kitchen was on. The usual one. Did they even live there anymore? I was texting one of my galpals, and told her I was in front of the house. She told me to “get out and ring the bell. what’s the worse can happen?”. I started to shake in anxiety. I didn’t intend to make my presence known. I was just gonna watch and, I don’t know…wait? I don’t know what I was expecting to happen.
So I said, fuck it.
I parked the bimmer right in front of the house. I took my lipstick out and put it on perfectly. My face was good. My hair freshly washed. My dress was airy and pink. Very different compared to my rough and drunk bar crawling on the S*** A*** Z***. When I saw my dad I froze that day. But today, I felt good. Battle armor felt ready. I’m not gonna freeze today.
I walked up and rang the bell. The first thirty seconds was quiet.
I took out my phone, and I texted “Well I rang the bell”. 6:33PM. I was bracing for whoever who’d answer the door. I was bracing for rejection. But I told myself that would be fine. At least I knew the answer was still the same.
Moments passed and I looked up. It was my grandma through the glass window. She was walking to the Kitchen to get the key. She walked incredibly slow. In an instant I choked up tears. I could tell she was pretty sick. I didn’t want her to walk back and forth to open the deadlock on the front door so i ran to the back and tapped the window.
She noticed me. She looked confused. This was it. I walked into the backyard and tapped the door and she opened it.
“Can I help you?” she said.
“Hey uh…how are you?” I said with a tentative smile.
She was so so confused. I looked for any signs of…hate but there was none. Just pure confusion.
“I’m sorry…I don’t speak any english”.
A chuckle escaped me. “Nanay…it’s me. Do you remember me?”
More confusion, but it started to clear up. Why did this complete stranger call her "mother" in filipino? And then it clicked. She uttered my deadname in a question.
I smiled. "Yes it's me. Do you remember me?"
She let out a sigh of relief and smacked my arm. "You should've told me! I thought you were some strange young american woman!" She might've been weak, but she still managed to smack me.
"Why do you only have tsinelas on? Why aren't you wearing a jacket? It's too cold!"
"It's fine, nanay..." I paused for a bit. I thought about asking to come inside, but I didn't say.
"Well...do you want to come inside?" she asked.
"Sure, thank you".
I stepped inside. I haven't been in this kitchen in about three years. I took a seat at my usual spot around the kitchen table. Grandma sat in her's.
"Why are you so fat? What are you eating??" Of COURSE that'd be the first thing she'd ask.
"Estrogen, nanay". I laughed. She hasn't seen me in the flesh in a year and a half. She didn't understand the fat distribution thing. But she continued.
"You should give some of that fat to me. I need it."
She pointed to her arms. I've always heard the term "skin and bones" but it was the first time I saw it up close. And it was the first time I saw it on a person who raised me as a child. I forced back my sadness. There was an almost...child like innocence and care in her voice. I expected her to scorn me, but there wasn't anything there.
"I wish I could nanay...I'm so sorry to see you like this". I dont think she understood what I said but I hoped my expression conveyed enough.
We continued on in conversation. She told me about her stay in the hospital. She offered to call my mom with my phone as if I didn’t have her phone number. I paused. I sent another text again to S*** and I told her that she let me into the house. 6:39 pm. A lot happened in six minutes. And now, my grandma is calling my mom’s phone with mine. I expected a voicemail and I was right. I imagined the panic on my mom’s face as it rang. I smiled a bit devilishly.
"Well i guess they're just out at HEB or something. They're with their friend. They're suppose to be back very soon".
"It's ok. I really came here to see you, Nanay."
"Oh they'll be back..."she trailed off, but then she picked up again.
"Anyway, what's with the ring in your nose. Are you a kalabaw? Why didn't you just get a regular piercing on your ears?" That made me feel like, she was already seeing me as something different from what she remembered. I wondered what emotional labor she's done, no matter how small. Shes always felt like loving mother more than my own. I never took her criticisms negatively.
"It's because I identify as a water buffalo. Also I do have earrings! see!".
I lifted up my hair so she could see them. Just as I did that, I see the van pull up into the garage. Shit, here it is. I stayed seated and I continued to chat with my grandma as if this was just a normal day.
Figures shuffled in the darkness. I saw the shape of my dad take a bunch of things from the back. I'm sure they everyone in the van saw me. I stared into windows with a small smile. My dad walked towards the door as I saw the van leave.
My dad came in and had a bunch of groceries in his hand.
He walked to his usual seat at the kitchen table, put all the groceries down, and took a seat.
"So...how are you?" It was awkward.
"I'm doing really good.
He asked about my job, about my house, and if I've visited my uncles, aunties and cousins. Same stuff he'd always ask me about. We relaxed. It was nice to have a normal conversation. But after a few minutes of shooting the shit, the real conversation started.
"So you know your mom and I aren't deacon and deaconess anymore, right?"
"Yeh. I've heard. Sorry about that".
"They took our offices away because...well there's this rumor that you've had your sex organs removed".
"What?". I flare up, almost instantly. Not at my dad. But at the church.
"No-, but why does that even matter?" I asked angrily.
"I know...but the church has rules...you know that. We're praying that maybe one day it'll be ok."
"The rules are stupid. They do these things to control you. They are using whatever stupid reason to hurt you and guilt you to do things. It's a cult, Dad'.
Silence from my dad. There was neither denial or agreement.
"What does my genitals have anything to do with how you serve God, Dad? I left church peacefully."
"It doesn't matter if you left peacefully. There are...rules. Well...we're just doing what we need to in order to survive...You know your brother was even asked to write a written statement to the local administration about whether you had a sex change. They've even asked us to write a statement to Executive Minister about all of this. They want to re-open your file recently since there's a initiative to 'bring people back into the fold'. They want you back as long as you-".
"Well, I did have a sex change, Dad. Genitals don't matter. Look". I produced my ID. "I'm completely changed over in every aspect of my life". He picked up the card and took a good silent look at it for awhile. I disassociated into anger.
Somewhere out there, "important holymen” have a tab on what i’ve done with my reproductive organs. As if they are fucking entitled to that information. I feel violated. They are using that information to invalidate me according to their standards and worse, they’re using it to mentally abuse my parents by damning them to hell. I knew church was a piece of shit, but now I’ve seen it up close and it stinks. My parents have not been great to me, but I know evil when I see it, and their wrongs are far outweighed by the wrongs wrought on to them by the church.
I want to mail in some pig testicles with my deadname on it. I want to be vile and disgusting about this. I want to be every ounce of the demon they make me out to be. I am terrible. I am livid. I am-
My dad had questions. That snapped me out of it.
"So, what bathroom do you use?"
"They don't give you trouble?"
"Dad, they aren't checking my genitals at the door. No one has ever given me trouble".
"How bout at work? Do they give you trouble?"
"Dad...no one knows. Everyone treats me as a woman. Even the men and women I've dated". Shit. Potential landmine.
"You've been with men?"
"Yes Dad. And they like me more than I like them. And even the women too." I let out a weak laugh. "Seriously dad. Everyone treats me just like the woman I am. You guys are the only ones who don't. Like dad. even my biology is different. I have NO testosterone in my body. My body is completely different now. My brain is different. I got tits." I laughed. "Like I see two mental health professionals. They treat me for my dysphoria and my bipolar depression."
He paused. He hadn't considered that professional healthcare had signed off on me for two years.
"How are you treating the depression?"
"Seroquel. It's a drug and it's helped me a lot."
"Do you have to take it for the rest of your life?"
"Probably. Bipolar depression is just a thing that is. Honestly, a lot of the behaviors that mom exhibits seem the same too."
Dad paused for a bit and then continued by steering it away from my mom.
"To be honest...I was scared coming in here. I didn't know what to expect. Your mom's phone rang and she panicked and turned to me. I told her that he-, I mean she probably just butt dialed you. I even tried joking with her and saying that's her car was parked outside."
I light up. My dad recognized me. With his limited understanding, he was recognizing me, switching pronouns for me. I looked at my reflection in the window. A young pretty woman smiled back at me. I recognized me.
"But when i saw you inside, I was scared. You know my coworker at the dept downtown asked me if I wanted to come watch the pride parade with him and I said 'no’. I was thinking of you. I was scared of running into you. and now you’re here".
"Well Dad, you did run into me, at the riverwalk, you just didn’t recognize me at all. You were taking a selfie"
"Yeh i heard from K***...Anyway, She didn’t want me to go in, but I told her that I have to face reality someday. I told her that’s your son in there-AND i just say son because that’s how she remembers you. But I told her that it might as well be now. but she refused so I told her to go back to the store since she needed to go back with her friend anyway".
"Thanks Dad...I really appreciate that".
"To be honest, it’s hard to accept all of this. It would be easier if I was catholic. We just came back from the Philippines, and many of my cousins are gay and some of them dress as women. But I can’t do anything because of the Church. Your mom and I have to look unified in front of them, because we are Husband and Wife. And the brethren keep bothering us and ask questions about you all the time. I just tell them I don’t want to talk about it. It’s also why we’re in Austin every other week. We want to get away from everyone."
I sigh. I hate this fucking church. I just want people to leave them alone. People who do this are totally pieces of shit.
"To tell you the truth, this would be ok with me...it's your mom that has the problem since she's your biological mother".
"I'm never gonna understand it", I said. But I really meant, that she's incredibly uneducated.
"It's gonna take her a very long time."
"I'm not waiting for it, dad."
"Then what is this for, what are you expecting to come out of this?"
"Well, I wanted y'all to know that you guys didn't do anything to "cause" me to be this way. People are just born this way sometimes. I've tried to tell mom for years, but I couldn't reach her"
"To be honest, this has been very sudden for us. Your life has done a 360. We didn't expect this because you were so...masculine before".
" Yeh, well dad, I was bullied a lot for liking the things I liked. So I became really manly to counter that. I ended up just feeling like shit, Dad. You were gonna end up with a dead child, or an estranged child. I chose the one that kept me alive."
More silence from my dad. He was processing.
"Well, I want you to know that I'm incredibly happy. And I'm really successful. And I got what I came here for. I came to see Nanay". I lied though. I got a lot more than I expected.
My dad's phone rang. It was my mom's friend talking in tagalog. "Is he still there, po?"
"Yes-" His eyes flit to mine "He's leaving".
I rolled my eyes. My mom didn't have the courage to make the call herself. I took the cue to get up as he hung up the phone.
We both walked outside and it was nice. "By the way, I'm going to Europe on Wednesday."
"What? By yourself?"
"Yeh, Iceland, Germany, Czech Republic and England"
"By yourself??" he repeated. The concern was obvious
"Yeh dad. I'll be fine. I can take care of myself."
We got to my car. "Is that a ***?" my dad asked
"yeh. lol, it’s got close to 400hp"
"Whew, why do u need all that, did u do it" my dad said.
"yeh, i chipped it and installed it myself. Do you wanna take it for a drive?" For a moment things felt normal and there was a pause.
"nah that's ok"
"is it ok if I give you a hug?
I gave dad a hug and i got into my car. I drove off waving to him.
It was weird, but I wanted my dad to smell my perfume. And I realize how weird that sounds, but I just wanted him to experience my new reality in every way possible. It was very clear to him that there was this young woman sitting in the seat his son use to sit in. It was uncomfortable for him to use my deadname and my old pronouns.
My suspicions were right all along. My dad would've been just as accepting as my catholic extended family. Despite church, family meant even more to them. My dad and grandma learned God over family in THIS church. This church was the problem.
Saturday, I faced my demon, and my dad faced his. I definitely came there to see my grandma, but secretly, I came there to get acknowledgement. I've dreamed about this moment for months. It's what turned my room red at night. It drove me. Radio silence was torture. I'd love even vocal complete rejection, because that meant acknowledging my existence. My friend told me that I finally reached complete autonomy from my parents. I know they think of me, recognize the change, and recognize my full adulthood. I'm now on even ground with them and don't seek their permission to be myself. Now I can completely move on and be my own person.
I'm a demon in almost all senses of the word. I went against the dogma of my mother's god. I gave in to self will and forsaken my holy identity, which apparently includes genitals. I refused to submit to their sense of "good", especially the "good" they prescribed to me. My selfishness is punishing her. And now, as if I was an apparition, appeared out of nowhere, unannounced in her own home.
As a kid, I was told that I was demonic, or that I was a demon. For being unruly. For being a bastard child. Being an unwanted child, who needed to be shipped back to the Philippines. It was a common Filipino saying used by someone in order shame people to follow social expectations. And it worked for a very long time. I was very holy. I became very obedient. I cut my hair off so many times and cried about it, in order to please God. Until I realized the bullshit and I cast off my holy duties. Now, I wear the title gladly. I hope I scare them. I hope they leave me alone. I also hope that maybe the shit will come tumbling down.
I want to fight fire with fire. I want to be vile and petty. But honestly...as a pal pointed out, they aren't even worth my time. They're gonna be spending time including me in an inquisition so they can "purify" the church. Because lopping off your genitals is an affront to God. And they hate the fact I left how I did with radio silence. I've already won by being this demonized being. And the more they pursue me, the more they lose.
How fucking stupid can an organization be? The church is maiming itself in the name of God. Thank fuck this isn't the 15th century. People are just excommunicated. People aren't also being killed. That just sounds like freedom to me. Part of me worries about the mental torture my family and my friends would go through if they were excommunicated. But if I can do my full share of emotional labor and recovery work, they can too.
I'm happy. My existence is recognized by family. I'm a demonic threat to the church. If this is what it feels like to be a demon, I fuck with it 100%. Call me Lilith. I'm here to sow chaos and pluck your children away. My life is very good.