I couldn’t even keep a WordPress promise. I’m a day too late; my sincere apologies. In all honesty, I’m still feeling very emotional and overwhelmed, and it’s affected my coursework and my physical health. And my mental health too, I guess. I spoke to my incredibly understanding (and kinda hot) campus doctor today and I feel a little relieved already; I’ve got medication to take care of my physical health, reassurance of evidence for my ‘mitigating evidence’ case for coursework, and a self-help guide for my mental health. I guess things are looking up, especially with the conversation my father and I had on the weekend that followed Part 1. I’ll pick up where I left off.
On Sunday, I woke up apprehensive; dad had said that we are going to talk about what-was-said-last-night. It became a waiting game. I kept rehearsing with myself in my head responses to potential questions he’ll ask, or narrow-minded things he’ll say. It’s not abnormal, these feelings happen to a lot of people. What is normal anyway? It’s the way I’ve been feeling for years, ever since I was little, you must remember, you were there. It’s not because of the place I live or the friends I know. It is the way I feel inside. I feel comfortable this way, being a boy. It’s who I really am. It’s not about being male or female, it’s about feeling like a boy or a girl. My stomach knotted up more and more with every frantic thought.
I know my father so well, I can tell just from the breath he takes what he’s about to do next. Even though it was a waiting game, when he was ready to ask me about what-was-said-last-night, I already knew.
“What we spoke about yesterday… Tell me why it is bothering you so much.”
I played dumb, and I guess I wanted to hear what he thought it was that we were discussing, so I replied, “What?”
“About your femininity, or …whatever.”
I started with “Well,” when he interrupted and said, “First of all let me tell you beti [daughter], I’ve seen you from day one, I know everything about you whatever is it. Right? What I want to know, what you want to do.”
“What I want to do in terms of what?” I didn’t give anything away again.
“Because you say you’re not happy with yourself, because I said you buy stuff which is like, male things, and because you’re not happy with it, about yourself. What I’m saying is, what do you want to do, is it bothering you so much, that you know you want to do something about it, what exactly is happening in your mind, I want to know.”
“Well, yeah I guess I do want to do something about it.”
“What have you got in mind? Huh?”
“I don’t know, I just know that I’m more comfortable with like you, know, feeling like a boy.” I didn’t want to divulge too much in the physical transition process because I didn’t want to scare him. I’m not really sure how much he knows about the procedures involved.
“You are more comfortable?”
There is a long pause as this sinks in for him. He continues, “Have you …explored what could be done?”
“Yeah!” I replied enthusiastically.
“And what? You say that you are comfortable being a boy… How can you become a boy? Have you explored that?”
“Yeah, like the process of a sex change,” I replied quietly.
“Is it available?”
“Yeah, everything is possible.” It really is in the UK.
“Have you enquired about the costs of it?”
“Um, I think the NHS provides some help.” I stammered out an answer. I didn’t expect him to discuss anything financially. And it’s not that simple. Most FTMs go private for top surgery. And that’s what costs.
“Some help?” He quoted me.
“Well yeah, unless you go private.”
“But are you really sure you want to do that? If you are on a scale of 1 to 10…” He challenged my desire to transition.
I laughed as I replied with a “Ten!”
“You’re that sure, okay. Well let’s just put this on one side to start with okay, because I don’t think there is that urgency, is there?”
“Well I guess.” I didn’t want him to dismiss it or expect it to pass as a phase. Or think I was severely distressed by it. I mean, of course I am, but the distress stems from what my dad would think. And since that’s going well so far… ‘I guess’ was the answer.
He clears his throat. “Okay, pass your exams first, don’t let it spoil your mind or worry you. First and first you need to pass your exams, and then whatever you want to do, discuss with me openly. And then we’ll take it from there.”
Was the conversation over already? I couldn’t let this be the end without knowing what he actually knew. “I mean, are you aware of the process?” I asked, as if he could hear the thought-stream in my head.
“I am not, I am not aware of the process at all. But I will come back from Pakistan and have a look, a look on the internet, whatever it required, where it’s done, how it’s done, I will have a look. But I don’t want you to worry about it, that’s not what you should be doing. If you feel happy that way, fine, okay, you have my support, I will do whatever I can financially, emotionally, you have my support. But one thing I want you to do – not to let it disturb your study and mess up your mind. Okay? That you should have a clear mind about your future, that these are my priorities and this is what I would like to do. And you should aim for that, your study, your job are much more important, and okay, your mental health, and your mental satisfaction is equally important in happiness and you should think about that. And also, another thing, what are the consequences of that? Would you be happy? How would you fit in the society that way?”
“I’ve looked into it a lot, I’m aware of the this,” I meant the consequences, but I didn’t want to use that word, because whatever I do wouldn’t be a consequence, it would be something I wanted to do.
“You’re aware of it. Would you be legally you know, adjust yourself, adjust your life?”
“Yeah I think so. Yeah.” Another unconfident answer; the process of legally being recognised as male is not as simple as ticking the ‘M’ box.
“Okay. Once you, would you like to get married then?”
What?! MARRIED? I was in shock. Where did that come from?! But suddenly it all fit into place, his reaction, why he is being so supportive and understanding. I put that to one side and gave him an open-ended response, “I guess.” The idea of being legally bound to someone, be it a civil partnership or a marriage, frightens the shit out of me. I have not yet dealt with those commitment issues. Nevertheless, I am an awesome boyfriend.
“Huh?” My dad didn’t hear my response; he’s very hard of hearing. So with a bit more enthusiasm about marriage I repeated myself, “I guess!”
“Okay. Alright. But I …I have no objection to whatever you have in mind, it’s not a problem for me. You, have you spoken to your sister – is she aware of your feelings?”
“Yeah I have a little bit, we spoke briefly because we were both doing exams, didn’t want to distract her.” And I didn’t want dad to know I had stressed my sister out. He also asked about my mum, whether I had spoken to her about it. I didn’t want to tell him what she said because she would definitely cloud his head with all the horrible things she thinks. And she’s a very manipulative person, there’s a reason why my parents are divorced. Dad asked me whether he wanted me for him to tell mum that we had this conversation. I quickly responded with a simple ‘no’ to let him know I wanted this staying between us until he comes back in a month from Pakistan. Dad brought up a continual worry of his and asked about my finances, and how I’m handling my expensive taste in a student life. After that chat, I gave him a big hug and said thank you. I hope he knows how much I meant that.
It was short conversation. If parts don’t make sense, it’s because this is a word-for-word transcript of what my dad said, and whilst he is fluent in English, Urdu is his mother-tongue and his grammar will never be perfect. If you put on an Indian accent when you read his dialogue, it might actually make more sense.
Looks like I’ve kept you here long enough. And yet I have divulged very little about my current state of mind. I’ll have to squeeze in a Part 2.5…