Three days into my glorious homecoming, and I must admit, things are getting strange. I was dysphoric this morning, so I doubled-down on the feminine gender presentation: to such an extent that my mother politely but firmly requested that I use less-prominent lipstick before we went-out shopping for Christmas presents.
“Everyone will be staring at you!” she said, as if I hadn’t been doing this practically every day for the past year*. I grudgingly wiped my lips with the back of my hand.
We danced around from topic to topic; eventually I forced a direct confrontation.
“Did Dad ever actually read my letter?” I asked her when we were alone in the car.
“I don’t know.” She replied curtly. Then she started up on that standard script where she asks me if I’m really certain about this decision.
“Oh, I’m pretty sure,” I replied. As in: more certain of this than of anything else ever.
She hit back with the ‘have you tried just being an effeminate man?’ script: ‘you know; like what you look like right now.’
Then she told me candidly that she hadn’t told any of her friends about me because she was concerned that it would reflect badly on her (and it probably would too, with her friends. What is it with people from the 1960s and blaming mothers for everything?). She did ultimately acknowledge, though, that I shouldn’t let potential embarrassment on either her part or the part of my father prevent me from taking steps necessary for my psychological health. This wasn’t passive-aggression either, by the way, as my mother is a very earnest woman and such behaviour is simply not her nature.
But speaking of my father, though, I have strong cause to believe that he has in fact read my letter, and that, more than that, he has even taken its message to heart. He has, it seems, decided to swallow his objections on the grounds that voicing them would do nothing but make a bad situation worse. On the face of it, this seems like a positive development, and in many ways it is. But what you need to understand about my father is this: if autism is, indeed, a genetically-heritable condition, then it’s pretty obvious that I inherited mine from him, though this condition manifests rather differently between the two of us. In particular, when it comes to social interactions, I tend to be extremely shy and reticent until I know someone very well; he, by contrast, tends to be brazen well-beyond the point of tactlessness. As a result, being unable to voice an objection is, to him, almost physically painful: thus, suppressing this urge has led him to be even more awkward and tactless than usual; just this very evening, he approached my sister about a sensitive matter in just about the most uncomfortable and artless manner possible.
Nevertheless, I managed to be alone with him this evening without him ever so much as commenting upon the fact that I was clad in female attire, and he even called me by a female name. This name was “Theodora,” rather than “Jaime,**” but progress is progress.
*People are assholes, yes, but I am surprised by just what I can get away with wearing in public without anyone commenting upon it.
**We were playing Civilization III on multiplayer at the time. I was the Empress of the Byzantines.