The waitress looks around at the mismatched bunch at the table. A man with an overgrown goatee and striking blue eyes. The woman with soft skin and long hair piled into a bun. And me.
She starts to take drink orders and turns to look at me. I focus in on her. I repeat in my head, "Please, don’t use ‘sir.’ Please, don’t use ‘sir.’"
"Sir, what would you like to drink?" "Water."
The woman with her long hair in a bun, my mother, looks into the distance uncomfortably.
I quickly fill in the silence with chatter.
The waitress comes back. My mom says loudly, "Tash, what are you going to have?" She points, "She is going to get the pasta."
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See, that’s the thing. My mom wants to reclaim some piece of me she feels she lost when I began testosterone. Just as I try to reclaim some piece of her when I see the lines deepen in her face and the passage of time reminds me she won’t remain here forever. My mom wants me to remain "she" because that’s the person she knows. But more substantial, without the "she" I’m a lost soul. A sinner in her world.
Can I fault her? Argue with her? Accuse her of not respecting me? No. I can’t do any of these things because, you see, my mom taught me about convictions and truths. And these are her convictions and truths. Without my truth and my ability to live it I would’ve remained in a life not my own. Without these tools, I would’ve withered away. She taught me to believe in myself and to fight for those beliefs. She taught by example. She has held firm to her beliefs about God, the world and certain standards we should hold as humans. I find that admirable and bold.
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The subject of my parents is a hard one to tackle because they are tender and loving to me. They just can’t align my lifestyle with their convictions and beliefs. Just like I can’t align their lifestyle with mine. While this makes holidays complicated, it does not damage our love for one another.
Over Thanksgiving someone asked me, "How was it with your family?" I said, "Awkward and awesome." They replied, "Yeah, while your parents have issues with your lifestyle, they know how to love." They do.
So, they still call me "she" and it doesn’t feel damaging.* It doesn’t sting. It reminds me of who I was. It reminds me to hold steady in my beliefs. It reminds of the lessons they taught me. It reminds me — I am loved — past and present.
Disclaimer: I’ve never asked my parents to use masculine pronouns and this is my experience and shouldn’t be transferred as what to expect from other trans experiences. Always ask someone what pronoun they prefer, never assume.
Read more of Leo’s work at leocaldwell.com
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