Mom and me

There are probably many books that need to be written exploring the complexities of the relationship between a traditionally feminine, heterosexual mother and her little butch lesbian (or transgender male? or tomboy?) offspring.

In my case, my mother was a beautiful woman who was naturally feminine. She didn’t seem to have to work at it, and she certainly wasn’t one of those heterosexual women who function as the Gender Presentation Police.

Uh-oh, another roundup by the Gender Presentation Police?
Uh-oh, another roundup by the Gender Presentation Police?

There’s a story my Mom told about me, and I have no way of knowing whether it was apocryphal or true. She said that when I was little she dressed me in a lovely dress and Mary Janes and set me out on the front lawn to enjoy my lunch of a sandwich and orange juice. A while later, she found that the neighborhood boys had ripped up my sandwich, poured the OJ over my head, and tossed me into a backed up sewer in front of the house. “So,” she would explain, “I dressed her in dungarees and sneakers and told her to ‘go get ’em,’ which she did!”

Did this really happen, or was she trying to make up an explanation, a nice 1950’s excuse, for my boyish presentation that would make it seem less outré? I honestly don’t know.

While Mom was feminine and straight, my heterosexual sister one time commented that our Mom “raised butch daughters.” In fact, on at least one occasion my sister was heard to boast that she was more butch than I was.

I wasn’t very close to my mother as a child. It was only many years later, when I finally came out to her, that the walls between us began to crumble. She said, “I was never that close to you because you just never made sense to me, but when I found out you were gay, I sat down and thought through all of my experiences with you, and suddenly, you made perfect sense!”

To her credit, she also changed her political party from Republican to Democrat, commenting that she could not support a political group that would deny full and equal rights to one of her children.

GOP attittudes
GOP attittudes

Overall, I feel that I lucked out in the Mother Department, in terms of her ability to accept me as I was. I feel great empathy for butch women who have to grow up in a home that’s as cruelly judgmental as the outside world.


Author: CandaceSoVan

I am a writer and an activist for people who are disabled by chronic illness. I am also interested in issues related to the LGBTQIA community and to women making music.

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