2015.10.15 // 2016.01.23
Last night I had one notification on Facebook: “[my mother’s name] listed you as her son.”
Most kids would probably just be astounded that their parent even knew how to do that.
Old people, right?
But to me, it meant so much more.
Being her son isn’t something that came as a birthright to me.
Regardless of against whom I fought – though it was mainly myself – I have fought long and hard to be known as your son.
But a week ago, it was National Daughters’ Day.
And as I stand here today, it’s clear I’m not a daughter. It appears that I am fully son – brother, boy…
But the truth is, I am also daughter.
My parents waited for me for a decade and when I finally arrived through a difficult birth – healthy, crying, and marked with a huge F, I was wholly their daughter.
There were “it’s a girl” balloons and HERE-SHE-IS candy bars.
And although there were very few years of doing my hair up, putting me in dresses with pink bows, and teaching me to do makeup,
A part of me, I know, will always be “daughter.”
When I came out to my grandmother, her only request was this: in Korean culture, daughters take care of their mothers in a way sons do not.
Take care of your mother, she said, that is still your duty; you can be a boy but you must take care of your mother.
Mom, dad, a part of me will always be daughter.
I will take care of you.
I know that there has been (and perhaps, still is) a mourning period; that is, the loss of your daughter.
And for my brother, the loss of his sister.
And I understand that. There was a mourning period for me, too. There still is.
Because the truth is, I still miss her, sometimes.
I miss bits of that life – especially when it does feel completely isolated and separate from the life I live today.
But she’s not gone. She is still a part of me, and I a part of her.
That life was and is not discontinuous with my life now, no matter how much I wish to disconnect from it at times.
I used to wish that I’d just been born a boy.
A lot of me hates the four years I conformed in high school.
A lot of me hates that I didn’t “stay true” to myself.
But the reality is, I was staying as authentic as I knew how.
And through those years I learned everything I know about the world – about people, about myself.
But that doesn’t make it any easier. It doesn’t make it any less sad.
This isn’t an easy process.
This isn’t simple.
And as much as we want to normalize it, it isn’t normal.
It’s erasing a future you thought I’d have,
It’s erasing the person you thought I’d be.
But it isn’t that black and white, either.
Happiness is not simple or pure.
Happiness is complicated and evasive; it is not received or achieved, it is constantly and consistently fought for and held.
Happiness is the release of regret and the could-haves, the should-haves…
It is the acceptance of what is and what was – regardless of how good or bad.
I think people think that happiness is the opposite of sadness; that the presence of happiness can somehow cancel out the sadness.
But it can’t. It doesn’t.
The opposite of sadness is indifference, not happiness.
I am not indifferent. I’m growing and I’m happy and I’m sad.
This process is both overflowing with joy and dripping with tears.
And I don’t regret a second of it.
Dear mom and dad,
I am not any different as a human – I’m still me, I’m still Schuyler
But labels are not meaningless, even if I wish them to be.
Sometimes I do feel lost.
Or, at least, I feel like I’ve lost a piece of myself. A concept of myself…
But the reality is dialectic; that is, two seemingly conflicting things are true at the same time.
I am not lost, and I have not been lost. In fact, I am more here and present than I have ever been.
And yet, there are pieces of me that seem nonexistent. Gone. Erased.
I am called sir, not ma’am. I am brother, not sister. I am son, not daughter.
Most people who meet me have no idea that my birth certificate initially said “F” on it.
But my history is not gone.
It is, and forever will be, a part of me.
Integral, in pieces, whole, opposite all at the same time.
Happy National Daughters’ Day.
I have always been brother, and son.
But a part of me will always be sister, and daughter.
I hope you know that.