My Father Washes With Rubbing Alchohol

(another aside, until I very shortly return to the regular trans* related programming)

My father washes with rubbing alcohol.  He unscrews the entire lid from the bottle, holds three fingers over the opening, then rubs it all over his hands and arms.  Next, he scratches it into his legs, his feet.

Each time that he re-loads his hands with alcohol, I see bits of skin, hair, blood, effluvia swirl back into the bottle.

He believes that this ritual will prevent poison ivy, skin fungus, athletes foot, jungle rot, lyme disease, sore joints, arthritis, rheumatics, infections, Ebola, flesh-eating bacteria, and brain eating amoebas.

He is actually causing dry, itchy, raw, irritated skin which produces incessant sensations of ivy rash, creepy crawlers, dust mites, parasites, and melanoma.

After he leaves, I discard the bottle and purchase a new one.

I Must Be Doing Something Right

I am in my Woman Rivetingwork truck, at the bank, holding a check which bears a feminine name (my spouse’s) and an androgynous name (mine). Well, not my work truck, but my boss’s truck, and it is even way worse than my truck, except that some of the equipment in it works better, sometimes. Diesel and chemicals leak out through the holes through which I can see the macadam below. Soot blankets the inside of the cab, because the chimney in the back of the truck is clogged. Yes, there is a chimney in the back of my truck. I mean my boss’s truck.

I couldn’t be any less of a girl as I insert the payment stub and check into the pneumatic canister. My hair is cropped short. I smell like the diesel, bleach, and sulfuric acid which saturate my worn out Dickies work clothes and wet boots. Probably I have grease smudges on my face from crawling around inside the diesel engine in the back of my truck making repairs, before giving up and calling for a new truck. The “girls” are tucked safely into a tight sports bra. I have no feminine accoutrements to rely on.

As the can whizzes through the tube, I think, that is all right. I learned from my mother (I know that I was hard on her last week) that the measure of a woman is not in whether she has a “woman’s” job, follows orders from a man, has on heels or jewelry, wears make-up or feminine clothing, or goes to the hair dresser (my mother has always gone to the barber). These lessons have stuck with me. I am no less woman because I don’t submit to most of the “rules” of what women are supposed to be. As a transgender female, that makes it even tougher on me. Fortunately, I also inherited stubbornness from my mother.

But still, I am pleasantly surprised when the cashier looks at the names on the check, and calls me by the feminine name (my spouses). Some chatter ensues. She calls me “Ms. D.” She makes an attempt at selling me a new checking account. She calls me by my spouse’s name again, and I drive off with a big smile on my face.

Chalk up a big point for the cashier, and for the bank. And knock off one big chunk of insecurity that I sometimes feel about how people see me.

(the image is Rosie the Riveter, library of congress, 1943, significantly altered by me)


Sorry, Mom

Sorry, Mom

My folks are coming down for a couple of days. That means depression era coffee (one scoop per pot), and a few stressful moments.

H. really loves my parents, and they really love her. They are the parents that she never had (that is her story to tell ). My father just turned 80, and I am fortunate to still have my parents on this Earth. We have lost 5 close friends this summer, and most of our friend’s parents are gone already.

I hate to be the ungrateful, self-centered, petulant, selfish child, but here goes.

You see, it has been decreed (by my mother) that my father is not to know the entire extent of my transition. In practice, that means that H. reverts to male pronouns for the weekend. She can’t stand the idea of hurting my parents.

My parents are very social, so we will probably do things with friends. So, when we meet friends, H. will blurt out a few big obvious “he’s” so that everyone gets the idea. My fear concerns the friends with whom I have worked very hard to establish that I am female. Some friends know how complicated that the whole situation is, and will play along with it for the day. I don’t worry about them. Other friends are newer to the fold, and have never really gotten a full explanation. Some of them, I like and respect as people. I worry that they will witness this, and never really accept me as a woman again. Still other friends are my stalwart supporters. They are the people who explain my situation to others, and defend me. I worry that if we ran into any of them, they would be surprised to hear anyone referring to me as male, and disappointed to see me putting up with it.

To further clarify how complicated the situation is I will tell you about the last time that my parents visited. We went out to eat twice when they were down. At one restaurant I was referred to as “Ma’am” and at the other “Missy”. This is all right with my parents, and completely within the realm of what they choose to ignore.

As the dirty secret of the family, nothing can be acknowledged.

My deep down point of view is that this is really my mother’s problem in accepting me that we are dealing with and not my father’s. She is reading her own negative feelings onto him. He is the one who puzzled out some understanding of this thing in me, years ago, and is more capable of handling it than she thinks he is.

For now, we will obey mother.

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