I think my mom may have “clocked” you, read my boyfriend’s text. For those of you who don’t know what “clocked” means, it’s the term many people in the trans community use for when someone figures out that you are trans.
Let me give you a quick back-story. I met my boyfriend’s parents a little over a month ago and since then we have been seeing them almost every weekend either after church, over dinner, or just stopping by to say hello. His parents are in their late 70’s and are active members of their church. Last week I noticed his mother was looking at me with that particular gaze people give you when they are policing your femininity. Although she didn’t say anything I knew what she was thinking.
Before I had met Jon’s parent’s I asked him: “how do you want to handle your parents?” his reply was “I don’t think we need to tell them, I don’t think they would really know; at their age trans* women are not even on their radar”. I explained to him my reservations with not telling them. I told him how I didn’t want to feel like I was hiding something. I didn’t want to feel that I couldn’t talk about anything trans-related, because being trans and working for trans equality is a huge part of my life. My blog, my advocacy and volunteer work, all of these things mean a lot to me. Plus, I told him, DC is a pretty small town, what if people talk? What if, heaven forbid, we have a get-together with our friends and family and one of my good intentioned friends opens their mouth and spills the frijoles on the whole thing? We came to the conclusion to just cross that bridge when we got to it.
Well, we got to it. While talking on the phone, his mom said: “there is something different about Joanna”, “how so mom?”, “I’ve never seen a girl with an Adam’s apple, and her voice is a little deeper, there is just something not completely feminine about her”, “well mom a lot of girls have deeper voices, look at Tony Braxton, and I think she is very feminine”. The conversation kinda ended there. He texted me afterwards, and I immediately called him back.
Me: “Well, babe I think we need to tell them”.
Jon: “I think you’re right” he told me.
Me: “When do you want to do it?”
Jon: “Maybe in about two to three weeks we can sit down with them and tell them. I want them to continue to get to know you for who you are. I want them to get to know the woman I fell in love with, and see you as their future daughter in law that just so happens to be trans, not as their trans daughter in law”.
Me: “Ok, that works for me. They’re your parents so I’ll let you handle the situation as you see fit. But I’m glad we’re telling them because I don’t want to feel like I have to hide something”.
Jon: “And I don’t want you to feel like that either baby”.
We saw them when they visited our church this past Sunday to watch my boyfriend preach (this is a good time to mention Jon is a part time Youth Minister). Of course they were their usual warm and kind selves. But after the sermon I overheard Jon’s mother catching up with an old friend of hers. She was gushing about her grandkids, the children of Jon’s sister. I couldn’t hear everything but I did clearly hear “I hope she doesn’t have any more kids, if I have any more grandchildren it might be from these two”. I got a lump in my throat “um, say what now?” I thought to myself “yea we need to tell them stat”.
I have this conversation with Jon at least once a week. We are trying to find the balance between trying to change people’s perception about trans people—specifically trans women—while at the same time not alienating people. After all I am first and foremost Joanna, and I want people to meet Joanna first. My trans-ness is only one part of who I am, just like being Latina is another part. Trans, Latina, WOC, millennial are all just parts of the essence of who Joanna is.
Next week I will take one step further in my constant quest of living as my most authentic self, Jon will be by my side as he also will be taking that step alongside me. I don’t know what their reaction will be, but in the end all I can do is walk in my truth and own the totality of my experiences as Janet so eloquently puts it.
Till next week, In sisterhood