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No Longer My Mother’s Daughter

by News Desk

I let her. I never corrected her when she referred to me as her daughter; I rarely corrected her when she called me the wrong name. She would buy me tight fitting V-neck shirts, and I would smile. Neither of us wanted to, or could, acknowledge how I was growing into someone who wasn’t her daughter.

Finally, though, the pain of being in my body exceeded my fear of changing my relationship with my mother, and I scheduled a consultation and then a surgery date to get a gender-confirming bilateral mastectomy. In March, when the surgery center called me to schedule the procedure, I called my mother right after.

“I have my surgery date!”



“That’s far away.”

“It’s only a few months.”

“You’ll have to buy a lot of stuff. Surgery is a huge deal, hon. I don’t think you’re ready.”

I sometimes wonder if she felt like my surgery was a criticism of her and her body, a rejection of her genes. Once, over the phone, she wept that she had birthed a perfect child and couldn’t see why I would ruin that. When I was little, my mother, a painter, would take me to the art museum, and whenever we saw a painting of a woman with a baby, my mother would say, “That’s you and me.”

A few weeks after I called her with my surgery date, she texted me an article about X gender markers on passports for nonbinary people, with the accompanying text, “Traveling transgender.”

“Omg, cool!” I texted back.

“I know,” she wrote, “it’s worrisome if you don’t look like the gender on your passport. I have short hair, wear jeans, sometimes no makeup. At a Mexican restaurant, a waiter called me ‘sir.’”

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