I chose not to celebrate Father’s Day. I did not celebrate Mother’s Day either. I’ve considered having my own special day although I have not yet decided on a date. By doing this, I’m not detracting from my wife’s special day, and I’m not recognizing the “other” day. I don’t consider myself a father to my daughter. Biologically, I am the sperm donor, but not her father. I don’t want to be in the place of the “man” that walks her down the aisle. I don’t want to do the Father-Daughter dance. And I don’t want to celebrate “Fathers” Day. One of my siblings sent a text message to me wishing me Happy Father’s Day a few weeks early. They’d seen a billboard and thought it was that weekend, a few weeks prior to the actual day. My wife thankfully intercepted the message and simply responded that we were not celebrating that day. My sibling already knew about my transition, but they did not know about my desire to distance myself from this holiday.
My daughter has been raised since she was about two to call me “KK”. I never liked “Maddy” as some people choose, simply because it’s too reminiscent of that which I am trying to leave behind. This is not an attempt to completely erase everything masculine from my life. In fact, I will most likely never stop loving football, or motorcycles, or action movies, very typically, albeit not solely, the territory of men. But I have chosen not to associate myself with the role of “father” for my daughter. I am simply her other parent. For me, being a woman does not include being a father.
As for my own father, well, I still have mixed feelings, but for the most part, they’re good feelings. For at least a decade after I’d left home, I blamed my father for being emotionally distant. I felt abandoned by him, just as my mother had abandoned us when she left us with my dad prior to their divorce. I was ten then. Yet as I grew older, I often reached out to him hoping for a deeper closer relationship. During college, my second attempt, I spent a summer living with him while I worked at a pizza place. As his kidneys’ deteriorated, eventually forcing him to go on dialysis and have transplants, I chose to visit him more and more. I never knew when he might just slip away, and I didn’t want to live with any regrets. I stayed with him again, by choice, for several months in 2007 when my work allowed me to work from home as he was preparing to have a transplant. Little did I know that the transplant wouldn’t come for several years. But I got to just enjoy his company, hearing stories from his life. I soon met a girl and married, leaving my fathers home, even leaving the city, yet continued to be close with him. And last year, when I was worried about my dad while my brother and his family (who were living with my dad) were out of the country, I took the time to spend about three weeks with him. During that time, I formed some of the best memories I will have of him. We would go eat at his favorite restaurants. We would watch soccer games. And we would just talk and laugh.
I was fortunate enough to have been able to tell my dad about my transition before he passed away in October of last year. I didn’t want him not to know. Although he never said a word to me about it, and I never presented myself en femme in front of him, (continue reading for exception), I still believe he accepted me for who I am. I realized much later that my father showed me he loved me by trusting me with the decisions I made about my life. From highschool on, he allowed me to pretty much call the shots in my own life. I was a good kid, making good grades in school, staying away from drugs and alcohol, choosing to go to college. And he’d told me on several occasions that he trusted my choices. That was how much he loved me. He loved me enough to let me know that he trusted I was making the right choices for my life. And so, after I’d written him a letter explaining my decision to transition from male to female, I believe that is how it was. He accepted me because he realized through his first-hand experiences with me in his life that I was capable enough to make good decisions for myself in my life. If I thought this was the right thing to do, then he trusted that I had thought enough about it to make the best decision.
There was one exception to me dressing in front of him. Before he passed away, my dad went into a coma. He was taken to the hospital, where after a few days, he improved little by little, and he eventually awoke. But he was not the same person. By this time, I was dressing in more feminine clothing and my hair had grown quite long. During one of my visits to the hospital with my sister, we were sitting by his bed, and he looked over and said, “Look at you two pretty ladies”. When the nurse asked if he recognized us, he said of course, naming my sisters name out loud, but he couldn’t quite place me. I was at first amazed, and lifted by the fact that he called me a lady, but saddened at the same time, that he was unable to recognize me.
Since his passing, I’ve realized that he wasn’t a bad father. I was never beaten, never abused verbally or physically. Perhaps emotionally, but never intentionally. Now that he’s passed, all I think about are his good qualities. I think about his famous phrases, like “Aye Chihuahua!”, or “You’re as clean as a bean, but some beans are dirty”. These are things I continue to say so that hopefully I will pass them down to my daughter. I think about his zaniness, his smile, his mustache that was his trademark look. Perhaps the mustache was ever-present because my sisters and I ridiculed him horribly when he once shaved it, calling him “Funny Lip”. But most of all, I simply think about how much I miss him and how much I wish he were still here to laugh with and talk with and simply enjoy his presence. While I vowed a long time ago that I will never be like him, now I believe there are some traits of his that I will always strive to preserve forever through my own life.