When I told my dad I wanted surgery, it went something like this.
We were at the Zócalo – Mexico City’s downtown district – shopping for my very first suit. He started talking about how the staff didn’t know whether I was a boy or a girl, how they were very confused by the whole situation. “You know I don’t care. I’m fine with that, I’m fine with you and whatever and however you want to be.” This was 6 months since I had started speaking to him again – after an entire year of silence due to my parents’ rejection. At the beginning of that year, my father had sent me a huge apology that his whole worldview had changed, for the better. At some point he realized that “it’s better to add than to subtract” (as he puts it) and that he loved me no matter what, something which, over the years, he has continued to prove true.
“I just want you to be happy” he continued. But this was still a sensitive time for me, and in that heat-packed car in late June, in between jokes and offhand remarks, he was fetching for the truth. So he added, “just, don’t ever do anything to your body.”
“Actually dad…” The Philadelphia Trans Health Conference – one of the biggest pivot points in my life – was only a couple of weeks behind me, and with it the revelation that top surgery was a real “thing.” I came away with the obvious conclusion that I must do it immediately. “Actually dad, I was thinking of having top surgery. It’s a real thing, lots of people do it. It’s something I really want, and I think it will make me really happy. ”
My dad exhaled, one half of him probably disappointed that his fears were confirmed, the other half happy that it had won the internal bet. “Ok,” he said after a few brief seconds, “if it’s going to make you happy, that’s fine. Just don’t do anything else after that.”
I promised I wouldn’t. Even as we sat in my hotel room emptying the drains in my swollen chest, I promised this was the one and only thing I wanted and needed. Even though, at that point, “transition” wasn’t a concept in my vocabulary yet. And, at that point, I meant every word of it.
Then came the hormones. I wrote a letter to him which I never delivered, so my dad accidentally found out I was on testosterone after sending him an unpublished article from my blog. “I can see you have a great team of doctors taking care of you, so I’m not worried.” He was probably trying to reassure himself more than me. “I just can’t imagine you with a beard.” Nope dad, neither can I, but the nuances of my identity continue to escape him, so I’ve stopped trying to explain. “But that’s all, right? That’s all you’re doing? Just a low dose and then you’re done.” (You know where this is going.) “That’s right dad, that’s all, I don’t have plans for more.” And, at that point, I didn’t.
I guess the legal name and gender change were not all that surprising, especially since it’s something I had brought up before. Probably the quickness with which it happened was the surprising part, at least for him, since I didn’t share much of the process (nor the interminable waiting) I had to go through. It took a while to find my name, which was the biggest hurdle, and it’s true he’s still kind of confused by it. Probably not overly enthusiastic either, since he’s never met or heard of anyone named Micah. The name is a bit anglophonic, I’ll admit, and everybody who speaks Spanish pronounces it /mee-kah/. But that’s OK with me, so it’s OK with my dad.
It’s not that I’ve lied to him, because every single time he asks me, I’ve told the truth. But much like us, the truth changes over time.
At this point, whatever I decide to do is fine by my dad. While the possibility of my body changing is not in his list of thrilling news he looks forward to, he’s very accepting of it once he processes the implications of whatever it is I’m doing. Especially the part about me being happy.
Still, it doesn’t make me any less hesitant (and scared) to tell him that I just scheduled a hysterectomy for January.