As a child, most of my friends were trans. It tormented me that I was privileged and they were not. I was ashamed that they experienced marginalization daily that I could only pretend to emphasize with and imagine as I did my best to stand with them as an ally.
I felt incomplete knowing that I’d never experience the pure unbridled joy that is affirmation euphoria.
I really tried to convince myself I was trans- but I just simply couldn’t. I long had hope though that I’d be able to give my children what I didn’t and couldn’t have.
I was never as happy as the moment my son was born. This was my chance to give what hadn’t been possible for me.
For years we did everything the parenting books said. We let him play with dolls, wear dresses and bake. I’ve never been as proud or excited as when we had “the talk” that girls can be boys and boys can be girls after he asked me why we have genders at age 3. We started going to drag queen story hour every week when he was 3 and he has been enrolled in drag lessons since he was 5.
However, as my son grew older he lost interest in drag. He wore “boys’ clothes” and started insisting on male rather than gender neutral pronouns that we had decided to use to avoid defining him. Tensions grew.
Pressure was put on him.
I’m ashamed to say that there was yelling and one time even hitting. When he was 9, he told me he wanted to quit drag lessons. I will spare you the details but that fight almost tore up our family and my wife took him to live with her parents for a few weeks. During that time I was lost. I felt like I had failed as a parent.
And so I went to speak to the one person I knew I could always trust- my mother. I told her everything. She listened patiently, hand on my head as I held back sobs. I told her that I couldn’t believe my son was so ungrateful and squandering the opportunities I worked so hard to provide him- opportunities I would’ve killed for.
Then my mother said something with the magical power of all-penetrating insight only mothers have: “Honey, you sound a lot like your dad after you quit baseball.”
It hit me like a ton of bricks.
She really was right, I had turned into my dad by projecting my dreams onto my son. Just like I had rebelled by joining LGBT and drama club in reaction to my dad’s baseball pressure as a kid, the same way I had pushed my son away from drag and into sport. It shook my world.
A year later, I’m happy to say I made the right choice. I came to my family and shared my breakthrough. I apologized, on the verge of tears.
Since then, I’ve done my best to suppress my inner demons. I take my son to football practice twice a week. He’s gotten pretty good and the coach says he is sure to make the team in middle school. I hate football. But I now know that’s not the point.
My son loves it. That’s what matters.
I love my son, cis and all.