The New Gender Paradigm
Gender Basics Portal
When you hear that your father is Really a Woman, the immediate response is always, No way!
...Men can't change into women.
...I already have a mother -- and that's enough.
Youth withdraw to their bedroom. They stop talking to everyone. No contact with friends. They don't want to see that strange person wearing a dress in the livingroom. The pillow is constantly wet with tears.
On one hand, everyone in the family needs time & space to digest the Revelation. They don't need lies or pep talks. Don't deny or belittle their feelings. They shouldn't be rushed to "get over it".
At the same time, they must not be allowed to feel abandoned. Even though the universe has fallen apart, they need reassurance that they're still loved. Usually the best approach is to hold the youth or sit in their bedroom without saying anything. Hug each other and cry together.
Reassurance at this point CANNOT be done by the father in a dress. That would be an emotional assault. In fact, the youth usually wants nothing to do with their father.
However, these commiseration times must not be used by the mother to form angry alliances against the father.
Your relationship with your father is based on personality, mutual interests, and past experiences: You love the way he jokes about everything, and how he teases you. You know not to bother him when he comes home in the evening after work. He's brilliant at helping & explaining homework. He's always read you a bedtime story. You've felt so secure when you fall asleep in his arms.
The most frightening aspect of The New Dad is how it will affect your relationship with him ... uh, her.
There definitely will be a change. She's a person who has been carefully hidden away, while the man you knew was a pretense disguised to look like what society wanted him to be. Don't expect your relationship to take up with the new where it left off with the old. The adage I'm still your father, I'm just wearing a dress is wrong. (Otherwise, what's the big deal about transitioning?)
The best approach is to consider that the father you knew is gone. She's a new person who has joined your family. Whether or not you like her, she's a permanent member of your family. She's a blood relative -- you have a responsibility to respect her, to make her feel welcome, and to give her a chance. And she's got parental authority over you.
Remember that she was just born. She'll make mistakes (just like you will.) She'll grow & develop with time. Hopefully she'll improve her fashion sense. She's making new relationships, just as you are.
Here are some potential problems:
-- Transitioning has always been your father's lifetime dream. Now that dream is finally coming true. There will be a period when everything is centered around transitioning. You'll grow sick of hearing about hormones & surgery. YOU will feel forgotten in the process.
Try to participate in the "joyful occasion" as much as possible. Complain when your needs are being overlooked. Consider living with your grandparents during the turmoil. Hopefully the roller coaster will slow down after a few months.
-- Don't think you can stop the process. This change is destined to take place. You can either jump on the bandwagon and make the best of it, or you can be crushed by it.
Some family members make a spectacle of themselves by ruining everything they can: What about me?!!! They wallow in self-pity and wishful thinking. Yes, you can make the New Woman's life miserable, but in the end you're only hurting yourself.
Every individual is unique. There's wide variation in how a youth will respond to The Announcement:
If a father has had a close & supportive relationship for years, and if there are reassurances that nothing is going to change, then the announcement can be taken in stride -- sort of.
On the other hand, when the youth isn't actually told, but only observes a sudden spike of father-mother conflict, then the youth can only assume the worst.
There's no way to blunt the shock of discovering that your father is "really a woman":
-- Your father is dead, although you still see her every day.
-- There's a stranger in the house who claims to be your "mother". Someone you thought you knew, but apparently not.
Out of the blue, a bomb has hit. Suddenly the universe has been turned to rubble. The past is forever gone. All relationships have been severed. You're alone. Everything and everyone is unpredictable, unreliable, and possibly hostile.
There's no other way to put it: The new revelation means pain. Intense, pure pain; with headaches, crying and the inability to sleep or think. Days & nights when you stare blankly into the distance, cold & numb.
On that first day, no one can believe that there's hope. But the universe will come together again -- different from before, but functional and capable of fulfilling needs. Relationships will be rebuilt, though definitely different from before.
How relationships & the universe will be rebuilt is up to you.
The Family Portal
A crossdresser is a man who occasionally adopts a female persona -- say, for one day a month. The rest of the time he's the father you've known since birth. Actually, he's been dressing as a woman during those years, except you didn't know about it. So The Announcement doesn't change anything. Your father is NOT "Really a Woman". He still likes football, pizza and trucks (or whatever). In fact, the home environment may improve -- keeping a secret is stressful for anybody, and now that stress is gone.
The only issue for a crossdresser's family is to decide how much they want to participate in their father's crossdressing. For most youth, that's Not at all. Who wants to explain gender theory to friends who come over to visit?
Your feelings on the subject are important. You have a right to be heard. You must feel comfortable & secure in your home environment. ...So it's not something that can be determined by a majority vote. Parents can't overrule the kids.
The crossdressing plan must be approved unanimously -- as long as it acommodates the father's needs.
After resisting change in every possible way, grim reality sets in: This change is going to take place. The universe IS exploding. You're merely a bystander; you have no control over the unfolding events. Depression is this feeling of utter helplessness while hurling toward a dark unknown future.
During transitioning, it's common for the family to see no hope in the future. Unfortunately, transitioning tends to bring out the worst in a transsexual: She becomes self-centered, unable to think of anything or anyone else. No sacrifice is too great.
Transitioning usually becomes a runaway train, destroying everything in its path. The only possible response is to stand aside, close both eyes, cover your ears, and pray.
That's depressing. Family & friends need to band together, offering mutual support.
These are phases that everyone goes through when they face major changes. It's important to know them -- to understand why you feel the way you do. ...And it's also important to know that things will change, as people adjust to the new situation. Each individual goes through these phases at a different speed. It's okay if you need more time, as long as you're moving forward.
You definitely want to be present when the universe is rebuilt.
After thinking about the situation, everyone becomes more and more angry:
-- Everyone knows you can't change from one gender to another.
-- So time spent together in the past was all a pretense and a fraud?
-- Why are his needs more important than yours?
-- He's selfish, a liar and a pervert.
The dust has settled. There's destruction all around. It's time to take a deep breath and rebuild.
Negotiation is the key to The Acceptance Phase. What are the realistic options? Can the New Woman be grafted back into the family? To be honest, the vast majority of families answer, No! to that question.
For a trans spouse, the main stumbling block tends to be sexual: I'm not a lesbian. Someone with big breasts, smooth skin and wearing a night gown isn't sexually arousing for me. I married a man, expecting him to take the traditional male roles in a family.
Around 9 out of 10 trans marriages end up in divorce -- even if the wife knew about the dressing prior to the wedding day. Most of the couples that stay together become asexual. The two women agree to sacrifice their sexuality for the sake of the children. Once all the children have grown up, the original mother usually leaves with them.
It's a sad state of affairs that results directly from doctors who can't diagnose transsexuality (they don't even try!), plus WPATH's prohibition against youth transitioning. Misguided transsexuals marry and have children, only to discover their true gender too late to act upon it. The health care community must do whatever is necessary for transitioning to take place prior to puberty.
The children usually aren't allowed any input into the divorce question (even though the original mother claims to be acting to protect the children from gender confusion & perversion.) In many cases, the children still visit their former father from time to time. Blood is thicker than water.
Who is this person?
Most children refuse to accept the truth: They tell themselves that transsexuality is a pathetic delusion. They defiantly call the person "father", and may even demand that male or gender-neutral clothing be worn during their visit. (Society is often happy to impose these stipulations in a court order.)
As a result, the youth's rage prevents the development of any kind of inter-personal relationship. Both parent & child lose an essential part of life's experiences.
At the other extreme, it's possible for you to understand the reality of transsexuality, and to recognize the value of sharing life with this newly emerged woman. Transsexuals offer amazing insight into human sexuality and how gender works. The experience forces you to reconsider what's important in a relationship. It liberates you from the myth that sexuality and sexual relationships only involve two sets of genitals.