IDAHO(T) May 17 – Transphobic Family
To celebrate IDAHO(T) 2013, Polari Magazine is publishing stories from its writers about their experiences of homophobia and transphobia. Some tales are funny, some are shocking and some are sad.
Jordan Diamant & Aubrey Diamant write about the most hateful and terrifying act of transphobia and homophobia that happened to them, and it was at the hands of their family.
My brother and I are twins. We were born identical female twins in the mid-’70s. We separately came to understand ourselves as Transgender and came out to one another when we were 33 years old. We kept this between us and only shared this with trusted friends. Later we came out to our father and he said, “Do not tell your mother.” It was a warning we took seriously. We lived in fear of finding out just how badly our mother would react. We eventually did indeed find out when we were outed.
Yes, the most hateful and terrifying act of transphobia and homophobia that has occurred in our lives has been at the hands of our own family. It is perhaps the most confusing and devastating thing that has ever happened to us. You can expect to be hurt by strangers that is usually a given, but when the act of violence, rage, and humiliation comes directly from a parent or sibling the pain is not comparable to anything I have ever felt before.
Our family was evangelical, but my parents – especially my mother – balanced religion and substance abuse as a way to keep her universe stable. We recall our childhood as neglectful and lonely. We moved constantly, on our mother’s whim. We could never keep friends. Although outward appearances were always that we were an average middle class family, we were far from it. We learned to fear our mother, as well as her mother, and the best chance to survive was to simply not say anything and try not to be a bother. We tried several times to connect and have a healthy relationship and try to trust her. The fear of what she would do or say next and how your life might be thrown into chaos at any moment was always present.
We’d been taken to gay bars since we were 21 by our mother. She thought they were fun. We assumed because the regular trips to drag shows were fine that she was open-minded. The first ripple of fear that she was not as open-minded as we thought was when we overheard a conversation our mom was having with our younger sibling. We heard her say “MY KIDS ARE NOT GAY!” because she was disputing the possible lesbian rumours about our sister. A terrible silence settled in. So you see the first example we get: Its okay to be gay, just not if you’re her child.
At this point both my brother and I were struggling with understanding our transgender identity. We were both liberated and terrified. Terrified because we had chosen to live closer to our mother in an isolated small town, and because she controlled so much of our lives at this point. If she was angry we would be cut off from even being able to get groceries. We knew and yet we didn’t want to believe she would, if angered enough, destroy her own children. So we hid as much as we could, until we had to come out a least a little more. We came out to our sister who was struggling with her sexuality. She assured us that she was fine with it and wouldn’t out us. This was the wrong person to trust in the end, she along with another sibling we believed we could also trust joined together to not only out us but force us out of the family for good.
We had moved back to our hometown and our mother and younger sibling moved with us. We were invited to stay and share a house with our older sister’s half brother. We had a verbal agreement with the landlady who was the grandmother of both the half brother and our older sister. Again, we chose to have faith in the wrong people.
While we settled into a new life, and a new jobs, and trying to hide the fact that with every day we were fighting the urge to come out. We had quite a lot of pressure, we dressed and attempted to live as men as stealthy as possible. But we wanted to take the next step: HRT. That was the day all hell broke loose. July 9th 2010; we cannot forget the date. It was an explosion- not the fire and bomb kind, but the emotional time bomb that explodes and spreads so much rage and damage that it still burns after three years.
Our younger sibling had become angry at us so she outed us to our mother. Then she came into the house where we were living with the other sister, to get her things because she was moving out. She ripped the cable out of the wall and started a fight which became physically violent between her and Jordan. Our younger sister is much taller at 6 ft 1 and a much heavier as well so it was a true David vs. Goliath match except for the most part Goliath won. We escaped and drove down the street intent of fleeing to our ill father’s house. We tried to call him only to discover our mobile phones had been cut off because it was our mother’s account. So she had begun her process of destruction. If this isn’t transphobia I don’t know what is. We turned around and went to the landlady to explain what happened and to call the police.
That was another bad idea. We were talked out of pressing charges since “it’s family”. We were also talked out of medical treatment. We finally managed to go to our father’s house and talk to him. It would be the last time we saw him alive. He said our mother “was not done yet”. We asked “What more could she do?” And as a mother “how could she do this?”
We were wrong. Dad turned out to be right. Our father eventually turned his back on us because our mother brought her craziness to his doorstep. Within twenty-four hours we were homeless as the landlady decided we were the trouble makers. Our little sister said we instigated the fight and had beaten her violently. We were called everything: freaks of nature; we were accused of animal abuse; we were accused of destroying the room we rented. We were promised our rent back only have instead an attempt to be sued for thousands of dollars. Aubrey suffered a mini-stroke from the stress and ended up in the hospital, and then he was bullied out of his job by our older sister’s half-brother, leaving us homeless, jobless, and financially ruined. We had no choice but to depend on predatory friends because we simply had nothing else.
Because of how deep that family ran in that state we left. We changed our names and have been living in the LGBTQ community in another state. Our mother has attempted to harass us by sending threatening letters, saying she will find us and or show up at our places of employment to harass us further. We have a lawyer on our side. In the face of fraud and harassment charges she has ceased contact. That doesn’t mean we have stopped looking over our shoulder, or peeking anxiously in the mailbox. It’s ludicrous to think you can live in fear of your own parent and that when you run and ask to be left alone, she still pursues you – all in the name of transphobia.