I have two fathers, the one who is biological that I never speak of and the one I was raised with, the only one I ever mention in conversation.
My mother was so ashamed I was transgender she could not stand the sight of me and tried to give me away at every opportunity since I was around 5 years old.
After spending most of my childhood with my great grandparents when I was 12 I was sent to live with my biological father in New Zealand, he was a stranger to me but I held a letter from my mother disowning me and giving my birth father full guardianship of me. The second letter said I was bad and I faked my debilitating migraines to get out of school and I was gay and to straighten me out.
I spent a year with this physically abusive man who tried to beat my transsexuality out of me..
After a year he gave up and sent me back to my great grandparents.
When I was 14 my mother sent me again to live with my birth father but this time he was in Fiji, but mother lied to my great grandparents and myself because she had not written to my birth father at all so I arrived as an unwanted and unwelcomed surprise.
Once a month for nearly two years I was beaten by him, broken noses, black eyes and bodily bruises, he told me I would be an ugly woman, everyone would hate me, that I would end up on the streets, that everyone would laugh at me and I was the shame of everyone, his abuse was always followed by justifications and remorse, once when everyone thought I would die from an illness he cried at my bedside asking me to forgive him, he and his mother and siblings were very cruel to me because they also resented my mothers kailoma family and by extension me.
Try as he might he could not beat my transsexuality out of me, because binary transgender people like me will die for our gender.
When he fled back to New Zealand during the coup I refused to leave Fiji because I knew I would be trapped in that continuous cycle of violence and abuse. He seemed greatly relieved and didn’t force the issue, he was happy to leave me behind with his extended family, I was only 15.
Once he left I wrote to my Nana and Grandpa in Melbourne who flew me back to them.
My biological father is dying. He has advanced cancer of the oesophagus and has only a short time left to live.
My half siblings in New Zealand would like me to come and say goodbye to this man that I still do not really know, but I think the kindest thing for me to do at the end of his life is stay away because I don’t trust what words may come out of my mouth. Let him die in peace. Maybe once he has gone I can forgive him.
After that I shall go to New Zealand to see my half siblings and finally meet their spouses and their children, even though they have wanted to see me, I haven’t wanted to go whilst he is alive.
I guess I am writing this piece because I hope it gives understanding as to why my belief in myself is unshakable and why I advocate so strongly for transgender children and the parents who support them – I also write this to shake this sadness from my mind because of all the memories that have been suddenly unlocked as I have been thinking about it a lot since my brother wrote me the sad news a few weeks ago.
I don’t wish my biological father any harm but I still cannot find the space to forgive him, I pray he will rest in peace when his time comes but I cannot face the man who shook me to my very foundation.
Both my parents would like to make amends for the past, but it is I who cannot forgive them, parents have one duty and that is to love and to protect, and they both failed me. They made my transsexuality about them and did not care about my welfare.
I may have thought I had forgiven them but when I look upon my nephews and nieces with so much love in my heart, I am angered, because when I look at the children I’m constantly astonished by what was done to me in my innocence through neglect and violence both mental and physical, yet despite them I survived and I flourished with thanks to my great grandparents in Melbourne who kept me safe and even in death continue to give me strength through their values and teachings.
Being transgender is an innate sense of being that we can neither help nor overcome and we have survived despite great sacrifice and suffering, I am so happy an understanding is opening so future generations of transgender children can live safer and happier lives.
I write this in the hope that my truth will set me free, perhaps my truth will help someone else reading this too.