So I traveled to Miami this Christmas to see my family, mostly to see my mom, who was diagnosed earlier this year with breast cancer and needs all the cheering up she can get.
Two days before Christmas, my dad was throwing a birthday party for his wife, my stepmother. (I only told my father this summer that I’m transgender.) The morning of the party, my brother and I met him out shopping for gifts, and he saw me in a skirt for the first time. He said, “You look shocking! If that’s your goal, then you’ve achieved it. That might be okay in California, but here in Miami, everyone’s going to stare at you.”
Well, he called before the party for his wife and asked me to “dress appropriately.” I told him that the most formal thing I had was a gray skirt I brought, but that he probably didn’t want that. He said, “Yes, please don’t wear a skirt.” For some reason, I agreed. Mostly because it was his wife’s birthday party and I didn’t know who would be there. It was, like, a work party, with all their business associates. I’m pretty angry that I did what he said. I felt like he wanted to hide me from his friends. He introduced me all night as his son.
I called him the next night and told him how hurt and upset I was about the whole thing. I told him that if I’m not welcome wearing what I want, then I’m not welcome, and that I wouldn’t be coming to Christmas dinner. He said that he disagreed, that I can’t do whatever I want, that I can’t come naked, that to a black tie dinner you have to wear a black tie. I said that was ridiculous and off topic. He got frustrated and said that he “won’t allow [me] to disrupt the family Christmas party,” that it’s not just about my feelings, and that everyone would be so uncomfortable. I said, “Fine, I don’t want to argue, I’m just not coming.” He said, “Fine, don’t come.”
On the morning of Christmas Eve, I realized that it was at my sister’s house, not my dad’s. I called her, and she said she didn’t care what I wore and that I’m totally welcome to come.
So on Christmas Eve, I decided to go to the party. I wore my nice gray skirt and black tights. I drove to the party with my brother. We were listening to Kimya Dawson in the car, and I must have been feeling emotional because her CD Remember That I Love You made me want to cry more than once. I didn’t want to mess up my eyeliner, so I tried to be cool. I was very nervous driving there. I didn’t know how my dad would react — yelling, fireworks, him leaving the party, who knows.
When we got there, it was 10 p.m. I thought people would already be drunk and dancing to Colombian and Venezuelan music. We walked through the house and out the sliding door to the back yard. My brother walked out and everyone yelled his name and cheered. I came out after him and they did the same. All was good. I walked around saying hi, and all my dad said was, “We love you son.”
I realize that what I was doing was against everything he’d ever taught me. My whole upbringing was about gender. For my sisters, he bought them cars and paid their credit cards all through college. For my brother and me, we had to pay our own way and learn to “be a man” and “take care of the family.” As a Colombian Catholic, my father is far away from accepting me being transgender, but this time, it all worked out.
I’m glad that I gathered the courage to go, thanks to support from my friends and my sister. A lot of queer people around the world aren’t as lucky as I am and spend the holidays alone. This has to be part of why queer communities are so strong; we’re trying to build our own world without our families.
I’m also glad that I decided to be myself at family events. A friend of mine had recently told me that she felt stuck in a heterosexual relationship because she wanted to be with women, too. She told me that she was going to see her family with her boyfriend and that all these weird heterosexual rituals are not what she wants. She felt like she was being groomed for marriage after just a few months. She helped me decide to do what I wanted this Christmas and work toward my family accepting me. There are too many people who have to hide who they are from their families. I’ve decided that I’m not going to let other people’s discomfort get in the way of me living my life anymore.
So, I went to the family Christmas party, which I loved. I have all these great memories of dancing salsa, cumbia, and merengue at holiday parties, of my grandmother teaching me to dance when I was little, and my stepsister trying to teach me steps this year. I rarely dance like that, so I enjoy it when I get to. I really love our holiday parties.
Title: Techno Tranny Slut | Address: technotrannyslut.com
Author: dj lotu5 | Blogging from: City Heights | Blogging since: October 2007
Post date: December 26, 2007 | Post title: Being Transgender at Christmas Family Parties