What if Daddy's Little Girl wasn't so little?
Daddy's Big Girl
by Angela Rasch
We pushed our way through the crowded airport, hurrying toward more trouble than either of us could imagine, even though we had just passed through havoc and chaos.
All around us the air was thick with muttering. People pointed and made their objections known with frowns and sneers accompanied by insults tossed at us sharp-end first.
I won’t be winning any father-of-the-year awards anytime soon. I thought.
The press had plastered pictures of Michelle and me all over the front page. . .make that “Michael” and me. The judge had been quite adamant that “he” was to be called “Michael.”
“If it’s good enough for one of God’s archangels,” the judge had said, “it ought to be good enough for your son.”
My “son’s” high heels clicked nosily on the marble floor, mocking the judge’s order that he be properly clothed “from this point forward.” We hadn’t had time after the trial, coming to the airport directly from the courthouse.
I looked at the overhead screen and located the gate for the flight to Susan’s, my ex-wife’s, new home. She had won our custody battle. The trial could have been over in minutes. The look of unadulterated hatred on the judge’s face when he caught his first glimpse of Michelle told the complete story. Obviously Susan’s new husband had the money to pay a high priced attorney to parade professional witness after professional witness who spoke to the evil of what I had allowed.
“They could’ve allowed me to graduate before yanking me out of school,” Michael stated. He was a junior with just a year to go in high school.
“Look at that freak,” a young man said. He had at least a dozen body piercings that I could see and hair the color of broccoli.
Michael didn’t even turn. He could have easily flattened the twerp who made that abusive remark. Michael had been all-conference at tackle for two years before deciding to give in to his feminine nature. Several of his dresses were 5XLs.
A tear escaped and ran down my cheek. What kind of father would allow his son to do the things Michael does? The judge had reamed me a new one -- and rightly so. I had been so eager to help Michael. The “experts” I had found all agreed I should allow him to explore his femininity in a way that would diminish his shame and guilt. Have I been so wrong?
Michelle had tried as hard as she could to fit in. Her girl friends had done what they could, but miracles had been called for and none had occurred. Just finding size fifteen high heels had been a major feat.
Or major feet. I allowed myself a small chuckle. Michelle had used her innate humor to help keep herself from crying too much, but late at might I had often felt her misery when she thought I couldn’t hear her let go in her room.
I had been against it from the start, but everything I read, everything I heard at the meetings I went to — it all pointed toward allowing her to express her true gender -- as being the best route.
At least that’s what I thought before I became anointed as the “village idiot” in that courtroom.
Even with modest amounts of make-up and conservative clothing, Michelle looked eccentric. . . . The judge had said, “Hideous.” If the judge hadn’t been in his robes and behind that bench I would have tore his head off for saying such a thing, but it was obvious everyone in the room agreed with him — accept Michele and me.
Gate 47. Michael’s flight would leave in twenty minutes. His hair was falling out of the tight, high ponytail she’d fashioned this morning. The judge had ordered him to cut it to a length “no longer than two inches at any point on his head.” At least he hadn’t demanded a buzz cut. Still, Michele loved her shoulder-length hair which hid some of her most masculine features.
With short hair her square jaw would be more pronounced and her Adam’s apple much more visible. She wouldn’t be allowed to wear those lovely scarves she always favored.
“That flight’s going to Canada,” Michelle said, pointing toward Gate 48.
I nodded, quite sure what she was thinking and wanting to agree with her. “It’s going to be okay.”
She looked at me in a way that made me hate myself for what had to have been the thousandth time in less than a week.
“Sure it will,” she said quietly. “I’ll be the new kid in school. A big ‘ol feminine boy who everyone hates.”
“Your mom will look out for you.” One more devastating lie. She found value in him only as a tool to punish me for “not loving her enough.” We had divorced after she had decided I was smothering her as an individual. She had not wanted Michael, because somehow I had ruined him “by not being a strong enough father figure.”
Susan wanted to have an “open marriage” and when I had refused to take up with someone like she had, she accused me of not loving her enough to set aside my “Puritanical” upbringing.
When Michelle had been voted prom queen, Susan had found out and had strangely become maternal.
Where was she the night Michelle came out to me? I didn’t have any idea how to respond to Michelle’s needs at first. All I could do was express my unconditional love and tread water until I could unravel some of the mystery of how a nearly three hundred pound athlete could feel girly inside.
Who are they staring at? The queer in the dress or his idiot father?
Theresa, Michael’s girlfriend for two years, had gone wild and her parents had gotten a restraining order to keep Michael away from her. That had been a bit much, given Michael had told her he “never wanted to talk to her again” after some of the things she had said. Her parents had no trouble finding a sympathetic judge to issue the order.
Michelle had no luck finding a girlfriend who loved him for who he was, but he hadn’t stopped trying.
Michael’s football coach had asked all of the boys on the team to try to get Michael to change his mind, because they needed him on the field. Some of the boys had gone a little overboard. I had the house repainted — twice -- after the acid in the eggs did its work.
Michelle had receded into herself. Whatever was happening around her was no longer her problem. It was obvious to me that she would be soon having some of the stuttering issues she had a year ago, probably would have trouble sleeping again, and would have those feelings. . .the kinds we had talked through late at night a dozen or so times.
“How could any one father be such a moron?” the judge had asked, several times.
“Because I love her,” I had loudly answered, fully realizing his question had been rhetorical. I had been found in contempt for that and would have to pay a $1,000 fine and do forty hours of community service.
I looked to the flight to Toronto and wondered. . . .
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