Born in 1971, I am the eldest daughter of Claire, only child to my parents. My parents divorced when I was 7 for reasons which weren’t clear until in my early teens when I secretly found out my father was a cross dresser. At such a young age, I didn’t fully understand but accepted although it was never further discussed until a few years back.
Our once close relationship was halted for 18 years due to his second marriage when I was 16 and I reluctantly lost contact with my father. Then with that marriage ending, I made contact with my father in 2010. A matter of weeks into our reunion I was faced with dad leaving again. This time for good. Claire divulged her truth to me. She was Transgendered. My father had lived for 66 years reluctantly as his male birth gender and had now decided to transition to female. Claire was now 24/7 as female and was set to fully transition as a transexual in 2014 but she passed away suddenly just short of this happening. It was these last 3 years spent with my parent Claire, that were her happiest. During this time I helped Claire volunteer in generating awareness to the general public through various media promotions such as a TV appearance on The Morning Show and a magazine interview in Thats Life in 2012. In those few years I also contributed to The Chameleon Society, designing and publishing their monthly newsletter.
Some say I accepted such a major change incredibly easy. I remember feeling at the time rather mixed emotions. In one respect I had my parent back in my life. On the other hand I was losing this parent. It took me a short while to get my head around the fact that although this was a massive shift, my parent was still going to be in my life. Having lost many family members I felt that although in some sense this was a loss, it was also not. A loss meant death, a complete end. This did not mean I’d never see my parent again. This was a change, a transition. The same dry sense of humour would still be there, those same grey eyes. I once said “The gift wrapping has changed, but there is still the same present inside”. I felt I would rather my parent in my life, under any circumstances, than not at all.
It wasn’t a smooth road. Claire was 6’4” and in 6 inch stilettos it wasn’t easy to stay out of sometimes uncomfortable situations, I witnessed her endure torment and outright rudeness at times, other times just uncomfortable stares, none of which bothered her. But it also led us into some very funny moments that brought us closer together. I remember one evening enroute to a destination which found us lost out in the middle if half built houses in an upcoming residential area. Claire pulled over, searching for directions in a map book utilising the stream of light from the headlights at the front of the car as I waited in the passenger seat. A motorbike pulled off the main road and slowed up to ask the tall leggy blonde in the mini skirt if she was ok. Turning her head to answer, it was a quick get away for the not to be knight in shining armour.
These such moments are the ones I am grateful for. Had I not accepted unconditionally, I would not have shared Claire’s final and most happiest years. She was finally content, she was confident, and she loved to dance and sing karaoke. And many said she was now ‘nice’ to be around. Something which many years of resentment at having to live as someone she was not, had drawn on the negative qualities.
Claire suffered two major strokes just before christmas 2013 and passed away on Boxing Day. She had lived the last years as she wanted, as she needed and as she should have and today I find some comfort in this knowledge. It wasn’t an easy road for her. 66 years as a male, two marriages and only two of her children stood by her. There was much hurt and damage along the way, but in the end she was true to herself.
My personal life experiences and the loss of my parent Claire has led me away from my 20 year profession of Graphic Designer and I am currently studying my Bachelor of Behavioural studies in Psychology and will be specialising in gender diversity and issues upon completion. I believe with my personal life experience and understanding I can offer the support and view of a child or loved ones perspective to transgendered people and family and friends. I have dealt with the effects of having a transgendered parent and know first hand the issues and emotions that are felt when faced with such a situation. You are not alone. There is a long road head but it can be a well informed and happy one. Just reach out.