When TBB had to choose what to do about her transgender heart, she had two choices: bullet or poison.
Most people around her though she should bite the bullet and stay presenting as a man with occasional and very discreet time away. The fact that her marriage was already strained and she was suffering wasn’t the point: if she really loved her family, she would learn to do what they wanted, whatever it cost her.
She knew the alternative, too, the one that came to pass. If she did come out, people who neither understood or even knew her very well would spread poison about her: an indulgent perverted man who cared more about his own jollies than about his family.
After all, who else would put their dear, loving family through such humiliation and torture? They didn’t need any more than her actions to assign motives and then judge them as harshly as possible.
Worst, of course, was that this poison was spread even to her children. “Such poor babies, to have a horrible, horrible, disgusting father like that,” people had no trouble saying.
Bite the bullet, chewing lead, or be sprayed with poison that even tainted your kids. Even her own brother worked to have her removed from the family home and legally restrained from seeing her children.
Needless to say, being forcibly separated from her kids broke her big, tender, feminine heart. While she knew what role her kids needed her to play — Daddy — she didn’t emerge to start living as a transwoman because she was a typical man.
It took her a decade to get everyone, including her brother, her ex-wife and her kids together under her roof to celebrate a Christmas together. Her reflection at that time was about how much work and waiting she had to do to get people to heal and grow enough to get together, and how much their resistance, how much the poison had cost her.
The goal is simple, has always been simple: get past the effects of the poison so that she could create grown up, mature relationships with her family again. That sounds simple, but people on the edges of her world still find the poison useful for their cause, the cause to blame, separate and cause strife for their own benefit.
Like someone who was very damaged by the initial attack, TBB is very sensitive to even a whiff of that old poison coming back into her life. It reminds her of the pain she suffered having her babies torn away from her and poisoned against her.
The hurt runs very deep so touching it brings back those old defences, the stubborn fight to be a stand-up person, a father to her kids, both an example and a rock. She worked hard not to let the kids be in the middle of a bitter divorce, never fighting back with poison, because she knew how cruel and unfair those attacks are, to the attacked, but mostly to children who have both parents in their hearts, in their minds and even in their genes.
The path back to a quality relationship with her children has been hard because there was so much poison spread about, but she has worked very hard for a decade or more to make it happen, taking the blows, feeling undermined, but always present.
Her kids know that someone who will fight with you will fight for you, and they know that she has fought for them at every turn, even when she is demanding more and better from them. She fights for their growth and healing, offering high expectations that they can live up to the legacy of an honourable family.
From before the moment that TBB chose to break down the compartment walls, to stop biting the bullet and getting lead poisoning in the process, she always fought hard to be a good parent to her babies. Her coming to herself, finding a kind of peace and awareness, a maturity past denial, has helped her be there even more fully for those children.
Fighting the poison, though, getting past the toxic effects from the words that small and myopic people used to demonize and dehumanize another person who challenged their binary conventions, casting them out, well, that can still be a challenge. When she sees others being asked to bite the bullet, others being manipulated with the poison that seeks to control and limit them from real connection with their own heart, those tender places get touched again.
TBB still holds herself proud for her children, still working to be the father she knows that they both need. Her big, tender, feminine heart is obvious though, to anyone who cares to look, to anyone who sees that her scars are the same shape as any mother who had her children estranged from her.
Maybe the world is changing. Maybe it’s not quite choosing between the bullet and the poison anymore. Maybe respect, the golden rule and grace are helping society move past fear and separation to love and connection. For that to happen, though, people have to let go of the poison that has been spread around them in their lives and not pass it on, creating space for growth and healing.
You know, like TBB does.