So I was watching BoJack Horseman this morning. I’m in Season 5 at the moment and I was watching the episode “Free Churro” where BoJack is at his mother’s funeral and is giving this very bitter eulogy based on his childhood trauma. But at the end there is this moment where he says something about how we all just want to be seen and the saddest part of his mother’s death is that he no longer has the opportunity for his mother to see who he really is. And even though I was only half paying attention, I start crying. And I’m crying again writing this out. Because ultimately, that’s what is most important to me too. I just want the people in my life to see who I really am. Not see my body or the person they thought I was based on how I was born. But the woman I truly am. And my mother is the person who I yearn to see me the most.
So when I talk about the pain of being misgendered by my family, it’s not actually about them making a mistake. It’s about the fact that when they do that constantly, it feels like they don’t actually see who I really am. They still think of me as the boy they thought they were raising. They probably still think this is a phase or that I have been corrupted by liberal society or something. And they can’t seem to successfully convert their brains to seeing who I truly was all along.
I have largely given up on my dad. I don’t think we will ever see eye to eye. But I guess I still hold out hope for my mom. And more than almost anything in my life, I want her to see who I am. I want her to embrace me as her daughter and give me her approval.
In my family, there is a middle name that started with my grandmother and has been passed down three generations in the women. It is my mom and my sister’s middle name and since in many ways, our family is not so secretly a matriarchy, it is a very important symbolic name. As I think about changing my name to make my chosen name my legal first name, I have been thinking about what I want my middle name to be. And a large part of me is drawn to choosing that name because of the symbolism. But I feel like I need to be given permission to claim that heritage and while I have gotten that from my aunt, I still feel like I need my mother’s seal of approval. And I know it probably won’t happen as long as she doesn’t see me as I am.
Most of my trans friends don’t have that relationships with their families anymore because they have either been rejected by their parents or they choose to distance themselves because of the pain that being constantly misgendered and deadnamed causes. But I keep trying to invest time into my family and I remain close to them even though it is painful because I want that closure. I want to be seen. And I truly hope that before my mom descends into alzheimers, that I get that moment with her.