If there’s one thing me and Kylie Jenner have in common, it’s our transgender fathers. But just like Kylie and Caitlyn’s relationship, mine and my fathers hasn’t always been a bed of roses. However now it is going from strength to strength – for that I am grateful.
To be honest, I can’t really remember my Mam and Dad ever being together, nor my Dad being ‘together’ as an individual. Now as an adult looking back I can see that was for various reasons that I needn’t go into in depth here.
But I do recall visiting my fathers on a weekend throughout my childhood and often being welcomed into a bit of a drug-den. Nothing hardcore, just weed – but lots of it. Still, on reflection, it was no place for a child really. I see now how that was used as an escape for my Dad, as I too have turned to the same measures when times have been tough. So for that I hold no grudges. In fact, now I’m in recovery, I can empathise and see the past for what it was.
Despite growing up with a slightly dysfunctional Dad, me, my brothers and cousins were shown nothing but love from him. We would have fun trips to the park, endless games of Pokemon Stadium, and would often come up with crazy ideas with our ever-growing family in my Nana and Grandad’s dining room. All those fond memories will never leave me. We all loved my Dad so much because he was the only one who was especially eccentric enough to tolerate our unthinkable suggestions. He was crazy, funny, relaxed – at times too relaxed which made him unreliable but that could have been because he was possibly, well most likely drug-induced – but still he was very loveable.
As me and my brother got older, we grew out of the weekend routine and started to arrange to see our Dad at our grandparents home. We would visit them after school every Wednesday like clockwork. One week after our usual visit we got a phone call from our Dad telling us he was gay; it come as a bit of a shock but we were totally supportive. The following week me and my brother visited our grandparents as usual with no idea what was to come; things would never be the same again. We waited for our father we had always known and loved, despite being slightly dysfunctional. Yet who walked through the door that day, well I’m not even sure how to describe it. At the time I saw it as my Dad dressed in womans’ clothes, I know my Dad looks back and cringes. That was when how my Dad told us he was transitioning into a woman.
I think it was so hard for us because we had no warning. That day we expected to see our father as we knew him and in reality we lost our Dad that day. I have never seen the male version of my Dad as I knew I’m growing up since and it really is a mourning process.
The beginning of transition is definitely the hardest part for a trans-person I have found. Perhaps things could have gone a bit smoother at the beginning, perhaps less hurt could have been caused, but we all make mistakes and nobody is perfect. I understand what a difficult decision it must have been to make that change and all those sacrifices. It can’t have been easy.
Sometimes I feel guilty for not always feeling this way, as me and my Dad went for years without seeing each other. It was really difficult, but for some time I just couldn’t come to terms with it. I felt like I was literally in mourning, in a way I was. I can’t express this enough. We all react differently and that’s ok. But the truth is I will never know my Dad the way he was, but I was always be a Daddie’s girl- no matter what gender my father identifies with.
Now I’m Ellie’s daughter and people often mistake her for my mother because we look so alike. There’s a lot to get used to when a loved one transitions and it’s ok to feel your feelings. You will probably feel a whole lot of them. Hurt, anger, loss, but once you come to accept them you can feel peace, love, empathy, gratitude and inspiration. I know that’s where I’m at today.
I believe time really is the best healer; we have grown together and have been able to build on a relationship that I guess wasn’t really there before. Through transitioning my Dad has become a different person on the inside and out. She is now a functional human being and I cannot deny that my fathers one-of-a-kind personality as I recall never fails to seep through when we meet, though now it is just through the persona of Ellie. After all these years she is finally at peace with herself, and I am so thankful for that.
I think what worried me the most was that once she transitioned the person she become wouldn’t be my Dad anymore. But the thing is, my Dad has never been in a better frame of mind. She does voluntary work, training on trans awareness and has registered her own charity to help others going through transition get the help and support she never did.
I can honestly say I am proud to have a transgender parent.