Happy Birthday Dad
An Open Letter To My Transgender Father
Today is my fathers birthday.
Six years ago, my father told me he was transgender and had begun living as a woman. Until today, I have shared this with only a handful of close friends.
Believe me when I say what a shock this was and yet somehow, it seemed to fit. Though supportive and forever encouraging, I had for many years felt a level of distance from my father that I could never place.
On the evening when I first heard the news I was concerned how my life might be affected. I looked back on my childhood and instances which corresponded with my fathers seeming sudden new identity. Like I said, my father had become increasingly distant and here was this new person in front of me, confident, courageous, expressing herself. I thought back to the first time I shaved, I had asked my mother to buy the razor and never consulted my father. As I spent more time with Sarah, I began noticing how at ease she seemed. I remember seeing her sat on a couch and thinking; “she looks more comfortable right now than I can ever remember her being”.
I suppose, what surprised me most, was how assertive my father had become. This was not like my father to be able to shake things up so dramatically. I was impressed by the self-confidence she was now displaying.
I took it as an opportunity to improve myself. Perhaps, having grown up with a father who had hidden something so fundamental for so long, I had adopted some of the defensive mechanisms. I too was distant with friends, unable to express myself and open up. I was protecting myself from others and I could not say why.
In conversations with my father, my sister and the rest of my family, we have talked about the importance of being transparent and Sarah is living proof of this — a vitality has returned to her life that once seemed so rare.
She has taught me to be open, to make myself vulnerable and be honest about the things that are most important to me.
And so, though it must have been the hardest decision to tell us after so many years, I want her to know that I think it to be the most generous gift she could give. I consider it a defining moment in my life and I’m so proud of everything she has become.
Love you Dad!