When I was a teenager, I was doing typical nerd things. Looking at cool art of my favorite characters. The cool lady characters, you know. The ones who beat people up and look damn fine while doing it. I wanted to be like them, tall and graceful and strong and lean, and not short and plodding and stupid and fat. I wasn’t even FAT then, but I knew I wanted to be like them. And while I was looking at a semi-risque picture of Tifa Lockhart, my mother approached me and asked what I was doing. I was panicked. You could almost see up her skirt! Rather than say anything, I opted to hit the master switch on the power director of our computer.
Back then, in the mid-2000s, my mother told me that it was okay. And that next time, I should talk about it instead of just turning off the computer like I did.
Later in that same time period, my mother approached me. She had found on the computer’s history that someone had been at a support forum for gay and lesbian teens. She was trying to find out which one of her three kids it was. I told her that it wasn’t me. It wasn’t, actually. Not once then did I ever think I was gay. I thought I was the normal, white, straight girl my mom wanted. I didn’t even know you could be trans. The thought never occurred to me.
The shift began when she started to date again.
There was always something off about him, really. He was a touch bit too much like my father. Fat. Bearded. Glasses. Is the sort who would look at you funny if you offered him a diet soda. Had an ex-wife.
But once she started to date him, it went downhill. She began to watch Fox news in her bedroom. Of course, when we all piled in there in the summer (it was the only place in the house with air conditioning), she’d watch CBS or something. She got her news online from Yahoo! and AOL. She read the newspaper from her hometown, the very conservative one.
One day she was telling me about this blood drive that was working in conjunction with the church she worked at. It was sponsored by the group “Muslims for Life”. She seemed confused and bewildered at the possibility of Muslims being peaceful, or working for the good of humanity.
It only got worse when they married. He would regularly say that the source of all evil in this world is Islam, despite Islam’s long-standing tradition of technological, mathematical, innovative designs and despite Christianity’s use of force TO OBLITERATE knowledge. I learned quickly that arguing with him was like arguing with a wall.
In the car, they act like I’m not there. Her hand is on his thigh, her fingers practically touching his crotch as they call a vaguely-brown man crossing the street ‘Julio’. They applaud stores that don’t accept EBT cards. When I told my mother that we used to be on food stamps, she said that it was different back then.
And now, it’s not the mid-2000s. I’m not an awkward teenager, looking at ALMOST UP-SKIRT pictures of Tifa Lockhart. It’s 2014. I’m 22 years old. I hate everything about being a woman. I’m trying to figure out who in this world I’m supposed to love, and who will love me. I’ve never dated anyone. Anyone will do.
I jokingly ask my mother what her reaction would be if I had a girlfriend. I don’t even think of telling her I’d like to go by Soren, or Sam, or Alex, and that I’d like my hair cut short and I’d like to have a completely different set of genitalia. I just ask, “What would you do if I brought a girl home?”
She told me she’d probably die of a heart attack. She couldn’t handle it.
How can you ask someone, “When did your unconditional love become conditional?” How can you ask them why they stopped loving you, when they’re supposed to love you forever?