Tuesday, April 7, 2015

When My Father Told Me He Wanted to Be a Woman

Denise Shick:

What was your biggest concern when you were nine years old? Was it trying to memorize your multiplication tables? Was it that the school cafeteria might serve your least favorite vegetable at lunch? Perhaps it was something more serious; perhaps your parents were talking of getting divorced. My biggest concern at age nine was how to keep my daddy’s secret, the one he revealed to me as we sat alone on a hill near our home. In a sense, I lost my dad that day, when he told me he wanted to become a woman.

As I tried to process that revelation, he blindsided me with another. He told me he never wanted to have children. To him, my siblings and I were mistakes, because we did not align with his desires.
His confessions left me confused and hurt. After all, I just wanted a dad who would love and cherish me, who would make me feel special as a daughter. I felt rejected and abandoned by my own father.
By the time I was eleven, my dad had begun to abuse me emotionally and sexually. Even so, I continued to keep my dad’s secret locked away, deep down in my heart.

My dad created a home environment that made me feel as if I was walking on pins and needles. His resentment over my possession of what he so deeply desired for himself—a woman’s body—turned into anger and abuse. As his desires intensified, he began to borrow my clothing. Many times I discovered my underclothes and tops under bathroom towels, or in the attic—often in places I had not been. I learned to organize my clothes just so, in order to know if he had been in my dresser drawers. When I confirmed that he’d worn an article of my clothing, I simply could not bring myself to ever wear that item again.

As an adolescent, I had to be careful about how I dressed. I always had to ask myself how he would react to my outfit. Would it make him so envious that he’d “borrow” it (without my consent, of course)? I began to hate my body. It was a constant reminder of what my father wanted to become. When I began to wear makeup, I had to block out the images I had of him applying makeup or eye shadow or lipstick. He was destroying my desire to become a woman.

Here is the rest.


  1. Why, Tullius, shouldn't we just take this story as evidence for the progressive narrative that we live in a sexist, bigoted, misogynistic culture that needs to come to accept homosexuals and transgendered people? Yes, this woman grew up in unfortunate circumstances, but imagine a new and better world, one in which it was okay to be gay or okay for men to say that they'd rather be women and then act like one. This father would not have lived a life where he was oppressed by society's expectations. He probably wouldn't have married a woman and fathered children, because he could have happily become a woman himself and married a man, or whatever he (she?) wanted to do. It is society's fault that this man was a bad father. It wasn't his transgenderedness, or homosexuality. This is how many, many people would assess this story.

  2. I had the same thoughts when I posted the story. Of course, it could very well turn out that there are natural (or supernatural) facts which make the "free-love utopia" envisioned unlikely or impossible. As well, the story also makes plain, I think, that pursuing one's sexual desires can run smack up against one's other moral duties and the rights and interests of others.