I talked to my dad last weekend.
Of the three kids in my family (I have an older and a younger sister, all separated by about 2 1/2 years), I was the one who wanted to do things with him. I took up jogging when I was about 10 or 11 so I could run with him. I was the one who would go cross country skiing and hiking with him without complaining. When I was in high school, and even in college when relations with my parents were extremely strained (it took them about 10 years to be OK with “lesbian”), we would go on backpacking trips in the Colorado mountains together.
When he insisted that he’d just always seen me as one of his three girls, that nothing stood out, that he apparently hadn’t noticed how much I clamored to be like him, it hurt.
When we talked last weekend, he said “So, I was wondering, when you always wanted to do things, like backpacking and stuff, was that anything to do with this gender stuff?”
“Yeah, dad, I think it was. I wanted to be just like you. That’s why I jogged with you, why I played trumpet.”
“Huh. I never realized. I just thought it was so cool my daughter wanted to do that stuff with me.”
“It was cool.”
He’s confused, he’s still really overwhelmed, but through several hard conversations and visits with my family over the last year, this is the first time I have felt seen. Maybe not quite understood — but visible.