trans talk

The thing about parents

The thing about parents

is that they are so predictably unpredictable.

Take, for instance, the coming out experience.
My girlfriend, who was only ever referred to as my boyfriend to my parents, was slated to meet them for the first time as we were leaving the country.  L.A. was our hello-goodbye pit-stop before our one-way flight to Tokyo.  Because my girlfriend was newly into her transition and she felt weird about the whole, “Nice to meet you, I’m actually a transsexual, please use my new name with correct pronoun as your daughter and I are moving halfway across the globe in six days” introduction, we decided to skip her coming out to my parents.

Oh parents…I suppose I wanted to keep this pre-move visit simple.  After all, I am that person who came out to them during a rare winter vacation stay, on Christmas Eve, many years ago when I was in a lesbian relationship.  Well, impulsively coming out to one’s not-so-socially-liberal family after holiday dinner probably wasn’t the smartest thing, especially regarding the crossroads of my expectations and their reactions.

My father: That’s abnormal, immediately followed by his leaving the dinner table and heading upstairs.  Case closed, i.e. I am not talking about this, i.e. if I ignore this it will go away?  This non-acknowledgement continued for quite a few years.
My mother: I always suspected something like this was happening (really?!).  Why didn’t you talk about this sooner? (hmm…maybe for the same reason that you couldn’t bring it up as well?).  Well, you really shouldn’t rush into anything (ok, duly noted).

After that long-term relationship ended, my mother had this to say: I always had doubts, felt you were unhappy and knew it wasn’t going to last (awesome, appreciate the honesty after the fact).

Fast forward to October 2012, we’ve been in Tokyo for a couple months and I (with the help of omnipresent Facebook) decide it’s time to have the my BF is a transsexual talk. My mother doesn’t take the news so well; I am informed via email that she needs to stop communicating with me until she has finished processing and please don’t tell your father about this.  Okay…

A few months after that, my mother started emailing me again, noticeably excluding the girlfriend from all conversations and I figure my dad is still none the wiser.

Oh, the parentals.

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relationshipping

No expectations after two years

No expectations after two years

is really fucking weird and hard.

But it’s the free-fall state that I have to be at peace with to give this new relationship a fair shot.
We have to start over.  Not in a hello-nice-to-meet-you-I’m-your-transsexual-girlfriend-and-we-have-no-history kind of way but in a she’s forging her identity anew so I cannot drag expectations I had of him into this new partnership.  It’s really strange to think that just six months ago I was thinking…maybe marriage?!

And now…one day at a time, sometimes it’s one hour at a time, especially when the future feels like the biggest unknown as I’m adjusting to her mannerisms, make-up, clothes, shoes- god the pairs of shoes this woman needs in her life.

I feel very challenged.  And usually I like a challenge but I wonder how successfully I can tough out a relationship where forget the tables being turned, I’m trying to order my entire house post-identity-awakening relationship earthquake.  I tell myself we can do it, nothing’s truly broken, just shaken up and I’m feeling freshly topsy-turvy on the inside because I’m not settled into her yet, i.e. there’s too much of him in my head-space still.  I have to hold strong and believe in an us because she’s not all that changed, other than being free to be herself for the first time in her life (which makes me sincerely and tremendously happy for her) and, right, we’re still doing an international move in less than six months.

Of course I have my moments of doubt: what the hell are we getting ourselves into, will it be too much change- her transitioning, finding a place to live, getting a job, who will prescribe her hormones in Japan, will she be able to find a supportive community, which neighborhood do I want to live in, um…how the fuck do I figure this shit out:
tokyo-subway-map

But I wanted an adventure and I’m sure as heck in the craziest one yet…laughing and crying with gratitude and wonderment for some more of life’s many, many surprises.

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about Japan, trans talk

The thing about Tokyo…

The thing about Tokyo

…most people don’t give a fuck.

It’s been awesome to witness the acceptance and encouragement a transsexual in transition is given in this crazy, crowded megalopolis.  Transition ain’t easy; in fact, it may be the most difficult (and defeating at moments) experience I have observed in this life.
And I am so glad that she is able to do it in Tokyo.

Tokyoites (mostly) not giving a rude fuck about someone in transition isn’t why we chose to move here but it is a decided perk.  It’s a strange and beautiful thing that the inhabitants of this city can be so conformist yet respectful of an individual’s self-expression.  Yes, there is a massive sea of businessmen and office ladies in their requisite suits and skirt-suits with black pumps, respectively, but behind those 9-5 (attached with massive overtime) outfits are characters who let all kinds of freaky flags fly into the wee hours, or not.  Point being that people here recognize and respect that everyone is multidimensional and who are they to judge?  Not only are there all kinds of daily queer sightings, gender-bending has always been a part of popular culture here, from the historic Noh theater to the beloved transsexuals on popular variety shows to the crossdressers in the cosplay neighborhood of the anime capital of the world.  In the states, especially in the South where we were living, there is no way she would have gotten the support she currently receives from her university peers, faculty and administration whilst transitioning. Just the other week, a very concerned teacher called twice, left a voice-mail and texted because she realized she had unintentionally hurt my girlfriend’s feelings and wanted to remedy the hurt and misunderstanding ASAP…that’s the thing about Tokyo.

I’m not saying that people can’t be hurtful with their stares or what might be downright dirty looks, even, but that’s as bad as it has been thus far.  No slurs, no bullying, no discrimination and certainly no acts of violence for crossing genders.

Tokyoites really embrace one of my golden rules:
As long as you’re not hurting yourself or anyone else, do what you want.

And that’s pretty damn cool.

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