Strangers in a Strange Land

Some people live their lives like novels; each aspect of their lives come together to form one long unified narrative. They hold on to details and mementos from places, loves, and friendships long past, to remember what each of those things added to their lives. I, on the other hand, live my life like a library or a book of short stories. Each incarnation of me, each phase of life through which I pass is an entirely new me, informed, but not defined, by the stories before.

I’ve always hated the analogy that a trans person’s pre-coming out self has died. I thought it crude, two-dimensional, slightly transphobic. I’m not sure I do now. In the wake of spending time with my mother, stepfather of eighteen years, and half-brothers in a city neither of us live in, that analogy has never felt truer. The girl, the daughter and sister, that they knew, is gone. Entirely. I’m not sure if she ever really existed, or if she was some kind of young-minded fabrication of a lost child; it is incontrovertible, though, that Allison is dead. Sadly, I don’t think they’d care to know the beautiful person that has taken her place.

The entire trip, they treated me as if I was the exact same person they said goodbye to three years ago. They asked no questions pertaining to life in the present. There are only inquiries of what high school friends I still speak with and “remember when’s.” They are stuck in a past that will never exist again. I’m not sure whether it is best to pity or envy them. Being around them is confusing, for who I am and who they see are totally incongruous.

In LGBT circles, tales of abandonment and parents who refuse to understand are common. Heartbreakingly so. Even though I’d never had a very close relationship with my family and was always quite securely in the closet when it came to them, I was considered one of the lucky ones for actually having a family. Now, though, I’m not so sure. I think Allison, the girl I was, was lucky. Christopher is an orphan. My family has made clear that they do not want to know what I have become, nor do they have any tolerance for gender or sexual minorities.

I guess it’s time to close the cover on that book and move on to the next one. It’s never easy to realize that one’s family genuinely dislikes them, but the pain can be mediated by lots of therapy and very supportive friends. I know that I cannot continue to live in the closet, especially if I want to begin my medical transition in the near future. I cannot live in fear that my family will abandon me. I must accept that Allison’s family cannot be Christopher’s, that I must seek to build a new family with people who love, accept, and appreciate all that I have to offer. I only wish for the strength to do so.

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6 thoughts on “Strangers in a Strange Land

  1. I really feel like my former girl self is dead. How strange to have this second shot at life.

    I am sorry to hear about your family. I hope you have some really good supportive people around you. If people refuse to see and get to know the person you are, it is truly their loss. Wishing you courage, strength and self-love.

  2. As someone born into the body I belonged in– and growing moreso each day– I can’t begin to understand what you’re going through with that. But as a man struggling with issues of who I am and who I want to be, as a man whose religion is constant growth and a man who has changed his name– twice– in order to force himself to become something and someone else… I think I can understand this.

    There’s terrible pain in realizing that your old family cannot accept the new you. But is it truly worse than the pain of living amongst them, unrecognized? Is it worse than the pain of being stuck in your cocoon because you cannot break free from it?

    I think you are making a brave choice, to push through the pain until you get what you need. And I wish you luck.

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