There was no secret and there was no ‘coming out’ to my family. They endured my childhood and teen years of feminine protesting. The only questions for them were: ‘When will it be the last time they see me as male?’ and ‘When will it be the first time they see me as Sharon and female?’. I wanted to make my presentation to them special because I considered the moment special. Their acceptance or rejection would always be their choice – I forced nothing upon them.
My dad and I saw each other at limited times (1978 – 1985) after I moved out from his home and during the time when I had been actively transitioning to Sharon. None of our brief visits were conducive to my revelation – whether at his home or at my home. I was willing to wait for the best of possibilities. I was in no hurry during my employment where I worked as a male. I knew at some time that I would either change while in that employ (Hah! not likely – though I admit that I missed that one sparkling moment in confrontation against Blanche, the ‘Glycerine Queenie’) (see:’My Own ‘Victor / Victoria’ Days’) or resign that position and make my full change after that (the reality).
I decided that I would reside near where my dad lived when I parted ways with my federal employment at Utah (May 1985). He let me stay at his home until I found my own home. That was a strange week or so. Here I was post-op female, living as female at least part-time, yet presenting as male one last time for my un-knowing father during this visit. Or did he suspect it was the end of Nick / male – an ending that he had to know would come sooner or later?
Reverting to presenting as Nick / male full-time during those days meant hiding my female belongings from him. Among the strange was my absence of feminine protesting; apparently my dad did not notice or at least he did not comment. Certainly I was frustrated at my circumstance suspending my life one final time while at his home yet calm knowing that I finally completed my transition and knowing this interlude was under my control and would be as brief as possible while I moved into my own residence – thus, no more need for protesting. I knew that I would be presenting my new Sharon / female self to him soon enough.
My plan to come out to my dad required that it be on my terms, including the option to return to the safety at my own home in case something went bad if I told him at his home – he was prone to violence and I had to consider my safety more than ever. He had to know I changed. He had to distinctly see me only as Sharon, not see my male predecessor tell him, and definitely not see me appearing to him as a male in drag. Yes, he knew from my lifetime of feminine protesting that this day would eventually arrive – he had to have been preparing for it.
My dad invited me to visit and birthday dinner (July 1985); that would be my time. My dad did not know what was to transpire that evening. Having completed my change to female full-time and forever (June 1985) after I moved from temporary residence at his home, I certainly could no longer visit my dad as my male predecessor; all vestiges of that male were already gone forever.
I set out my best dress, matching pantyhose and shoes, not too much make-up, and light perfume. I travelled to my dad’s home where he resided a two hours drive at another city.
My dad did not see my arrival. I knocked at his door. He opened the door, saw a woman, apparently thought I was someone else, did a double-take, realised it was me, and left me standing alone. I quietly entered, went to him, consoled him, and told him that everything was okay, ‘Now I’m happy, Dad. This is who I am. We can still watch Sunday football together.’
I helpt my dad cook dinner; we mostly sat in silence that evening. He did not want to talk about the details of my change. My long-distance drive home allowed another two hours of alone time to ponder what transpired that evening, what to do for my future, what to do for our future.
My dad never quite accepted my change – his adopted male heir is now a woman – no longer his adopted son but his adopted daughter. He never called me Sharon but that was okay considering that people who despise me call me Sharon in their open disrespect rather than common courtesy. My dad’s relationship to me remained a complicated tolerance at best.
My dad and I kept our distance during the first year, especially following a tense confrontation (November 1985). He came to my home un-announced with now former ‘friend’, Clinton. They yelled and screamed at me; they told me that I had no right to do what I was doing to ‘them’. That spoke volumes of their perspective. Little did they know that I had been legally female since 1980 and had my two operations confirming my female anatomy (1982 and 1983). Essentially they were illogically, unknowingly demanding that I endure a female-to-male sex change. I never told my dad my full story; the shock of the entire truth literally would have killed him – he would have died of a broken heart.
Cousin Beverly was getting married a few years later. My dad came to pick me up so we could travel together to her city a couple hours distant. He brought a horrid-looking, orange-brown men’s suit and told me that I had to wear it or else I was not welcomed at Bev’s wedding. I reminded my dad that I am a woman, I dress as a woman, I present myself as a woman. I could not comply with their outrageous demand and therefore did not attend Bev’s wedding. Their demand – that a woman dress in a man’s suit as a condition to attending this cousin’s wedding ceremony – was bizarre. I would have appeared outlandish wearing that man’s suit – my feminine-styled long hair, my female body features, my female smell, my obvious chest (I was not binding my girls for their satisfaction), the holes where I wore earrings. Bev and my dad did not think through their demand; or maybe they did and meant something sinister.
This relationship with my dad remained strained until his death (July 1989).
I travelled to New Jersey to be with my dad at his final weeks as he lay ravaged with terminal cancer. I kept vigil. I placed a chair at his bed, I positioned my feet touching his feet as I lived in that chair during his final three weeks. He refused to talk about anything, especially anything substantial. I made efforts at light conversation, still he routinely turned his head from me. I told him I forgive him. My forgiveness worsened his hate for me; perhaps he did not expect my generosity in the face of a lifetime of his cruelty. What else could I do? I had no hate for him, mostly sadness at his hatred.
My dad was a man whose family barely survived The Depression. He served during WW2 – Pacific duty on ships stationed from the Middle East to the occupation force at Japan. He then served at Korea. The military awarded the Bronze Star to him. He never spoke of the horrors he must have experienced.
My dad came home from Korea and married his girlfriend. As a Catholic, he expected his wife to pop babies every year; she said ‘One and done’, that was Kathy. His alternative was adoption for his male heir, that was me. He did not get his male heir since I was not quite male and, try as he might, he could never make me male.
Then along came his wife’s younger brother Frank. People knew little during the 1950s other than Christine Jorgensen; my dad made veiled references of her throughout the years. Not only did my dad have my feminine protesting, but now he had Frank’s transition. Family scheming and both the brother-in-law and his wife are dead – murder covered up as double suicide; their son, Steve, abandoned into ‘the system’. My dad, so much for bragging how he wanted to adopt, would have nothing to do with Steve. Hey, maybe Steve would be the same as his father. Can you see the burdens my dad carried at a time of ignorance?
My mom and I had our complications.
Likewise, she endured my years of feminine protesting. There was no ‘coming out’ as an issue. We had a tough history during my childhood and our sparse relationship as I became an adult.
My mom played her baby grand piano; I learned to play it on my own.
My mom included on her resume her appearances as a character in ’26 Men’ – a TV Western series during the 1950s and 1960s.
My mom also worked at a radio station (1950s – 1960s). She brought me there rather than dump me at daycare; I give credit to her for doing what was not convenient. The DJs enjoyed my presence; I recall the chubby man who wore the cowboy hat.
My mom had parties at home with people from the radio station and various musicians; I recall one drummer let me sit with him as he played. I also have memories waking up the next morning and seeing my mom sloshed out on the blue sofa following a night of partying. That blue couch accumulated quite a number of cigarette burns and patches; it is only fate that no one ever burned down our house with their smoldering cigarette.
Smitty was one of my mom’s boyfriends. He owned a furniture store that routinely advertised fire sales. Smitty enjoyed my company; he had a bag of M&Ms and a soda waiting for me whenever my mom brought me to visit him. Smitty took my mom and me to the local stockyard restaurant; it was always so dark inside. He used cocktail twizzlers to fashion a bow and arrow for me. He would pour a little alcohol in the ashtray and set it afire for the blue glow that I enjoyed (I love blue).
My mom overheard my telephone call to my physician one day during a visit to her (1979); she began her denial of my forthcoming transition. She remained in denial even when I showed my DES pills to her (1980) – she shook her head at me as if I were some naughty child. I could have swallowed the entire bottle’s contents and she still would have disavowed what she witnessed.
I travelled to visit my mom twice (1983 and 1984) when she resided at New Orleans. I packed my bags; I brought only female attire – I owned only ‘unisex’ and distinctly female clothes – I no longer had male clothes. I hoped to present myself as Sharon. That was not to be; I had to remain in my male persona because she was not ready to see Sharon.
My mom finally saw me as Sharon when she came to New Jersey to pay respects for her now-deceased ex-husband (July 1989). She could not deal with my change. She wanted little to do with me. She refused to speak with me during that visit.
My mom came to visit me at my home for a week (1992). There was no point to this visit. She did not want to talk – again. We spent most of our time silently watching TV when I came home from work. That visit ended when she pulled her .22 pistol from her purse and made certain that I knew that my existence was still not secure in her presence – no different than when she beat me (and Kathy) during my childhood.
My mom returned to my community a few years later (1995). She arrived un-announced apparently expecting me to be there waiting for her. She left a series of voice-mails on my answering machine with ever-increasing hostility that demonstrated her ignorance that my personal life no longer depended upon her. She had no concept that I had my life and was living it. I was busy that weekend with my music TV show (‘Rock Club Rising – please read ‘Eat the Document’ published by Phoenix New Times newspaper) conducting a video shoot of ‘Punk versus Ska’ at Party Gardens, Phoenix, Arizona. The last I saw my mom was her 1992 visit; she died in 2002.
Kathy was little different than my father or mother. You read how she bullied me as we grew up – goaded, yet un-apologetic. Her distance persists into adulthood and continues to this day.
We travelled to New Jersey to be with our father as he was dying of cancer (1989). She spent little time with him; she preferred jaunts to Manhattan night-life with our cousin Donna and her husband.
Kathy got married (1990). She refused to invite me to her wedding. She held no interest sharing her special event with my presence. I would have gladly sat quietly in a corner just to have been with her.
She invited me to visit her, her husband, her toddler son, her newborn daughter, and our mom (1992). This visit was business only, not pleasure. She needed me to meet with her lawyer and to sign estate papers to close our dad’s probate.
I passed by Kathy’s city as I travelled to Oregon on a job search (1993). I made a quick visit; she was distant and dis-interested. It became the last time I saw her.
Kathy replies coldly to my correspondences to her. She has communicated with me barely a dozen times (telephone, letter, e-mail) during the past 25 years. One of her last e-mails (2009 – yes, that distant in the past) was little more than invective:
- ‘i think these things you come up with are totally wack!’ (sic),
- ‘You are totally fucked up’,
- ‘totally screwed’,
- ‘screwed up mind of yours’,
- ‘I think u are nuts!’ (sic),
- ‘trying to get you declared incompetent’.
I accidentally found her name on the rolls of her state’s Democratic Party voter registration. Who says all Democrats are open-minded liberals?
Kathy and other family tried to get a court to adjudicate me mentally incompetent so they could steal my portion of our dad’s estate (1989). Their scheme with the court failed, but she and others still managed to steal from me anyway.
When our mom died (2002), Kathy again could not be bothered with legal niceties of wills and probate. She took it all despite a letter from our mom’s attourney documenting her fear that Kathy would do exactly what she did. Yeh – my mom sure was her own complexity; we had our problems yet she foresaw Kathy pulling the same stunt as she did with our dad’s estate.
Kathy wrote in her last correspondence to me (September 2014) that she wants nothing more to do with me. Well, we are not blood family, so she sees no reason for any future relationship when she has her own family. That is her choice, not mine. As I wrote at an earlier post – when one door closes, another door opens. She closed her door, I await the excitement of a fresh door opening to a brighter future.
This is how my family and friends saw me that Summer of 1985. This picture came from my Pima Community College student ID (July 1985). I was age 28 going on 29.