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No Longer My Mother’s Daughter

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I let her. I never corrected her if she called me her daughter. I rarely correct her when she calls me the wrong name. I would smile when she bought me V-neck shirts that were tight fitting. Neither of us wanted to, or could, acknowledge how I was growing into someone who wasn’t her daughter.

I decided that the pain of being in my body was more important than my fear of losing my mother’s love, so I scheduled a consultation, followed by a date for a surgery to have a bilateral mastectomy. I called my mother immediately after the surgery center called me in March to schedule the procedure.

“I have my surgery date!”

“When?”

“July.”

“That’s far away.”

“It’s only a few months.”

“You’ll have to buy a lot of stuff. Surgery is a big deal. I don’t think you’re ready.”

Sometimes I wonder if she felt that my surgery was a criticism against her and her body, or a rejection of her genetics. Once, over the phone, she wept that she had birthed a perfect child and couldn’t see why I would ruin that. When I was little, my mother, a painter, would take me to the art museum, and whenever we saw a painting of a woman with a baby, my mother would say, “That’s you and me.”

A few weeks after I called her with my surgery date, she texted me an article about X gender markers on passports for nonbinary people, with the accompanying text, “Traveling transgender.”

“Omg, cool!” I texted back.

“I know,” she wrote, “it’s worrisome if you don’t look like the gender on your passport. I have short hair and wear jeans. Sometimes, I don’t even use makeup. At a Mexican restaurant, a waiter called me ‘sir.’”

Source: NY Times

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