Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Introducing Doll, Racked's first transgender guest blogger. Always secretly wishing he'd been born a Barbie, Doll was a young army brat who grew up and became a citizen of the world. After landing in Manhattan, he became a New York fashion insider, working in a high-powered industry position, living a life worthy of a feature film.
After mysteriously vanishing from the scene, Doll recently resurfaced and has embarked on a new roller-coaster ride of a journey. Follow his transformation, week by week, right here on Racked.
"Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you'll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others." —Jacob M. Braude
Doll: When I finally decided to undergo the transition from male to female, I needed to find a way to inform my nearest and dearest. Having always had a knack for arts and crafts (and never one to shy away from a festive holiday occasion), I thought, what better way to break the news by sending friends and family home-made Christmas cards with a photo of moi—dressed as Santa's little bikini team helper?
Inside the cards I wrote heartfelt greetings for the season along with a simple note that said: “The photo attached is a glimpse of my future."
The card naturally garnered mixed emotions and reactions. As soon as it landed at the homes of my family and friends, the phone calls started coming.
"Is this a joke?" my relatives demanded to know, "What does this even mean?"
When I reconfirmed my plans and desires to become a woman, they inevitably demanded an explanation. Some pled for me to seek help and others brushed it off as another attention-grabbing gimmick. I certainly cleared the air on all of that, and, soon after, their concerns on my well being shifted and became more focused on what other people would think about the change, and the shame I would bring to my family.
“Think really hard about what you’re about to do, you’re perfect already, and you’re just going to regress,” said my super-conservative aunt.
“How are you going to find a decent job? No one is going to hire a freak!” my uncle protested.
“You're going to confuse your nephews and nieces—what will they even call you?” my cousin demanded to know.
None of their negative feedback deterred me—although it did make me question my state of mind, the decisions I was about to make and the uncertainty of my future. I still felt defiant and needed to do what I thought was best for me and just kept thinking: “I can't bear to live in my current body forever." Their responses were hurtful, and they had said many unnecessary things that were an affront to my character. Since then, I've become callous to their rude remarks.
To be honest, nothing my friends and distant relatives said really bothered me, because what mattered most were the reactions I was expecting from my immediate family.
Surprisingly my brothers and their wives were the most supportive.
“Do whatever makes you happy bro!” (Ugh—well let’s start by stop calling me “bro,” I replied.)
“We’ll support your decisions as long as you’re happy and healthy,” said my loving sister in-law.
“You’re going to be prettier than me! But go ahead and do it, because life is short,” my other sister in-law said.
My parents, as expected, were in utter shock and were extremely disappointed. At first, my mother thought I'd Photoshopped my face onto a woman's body. But after my brother explained to her that was not the case—he'd seen me cross-dress in person—she went ballistic and scolded him for condoning such behavior.
Our initial conversations about the topic revolved around my being a "lost soul," and "just a confused little boy." She recommended I see a priest and that I study the Bible, again giving me a heavy dose of morality and Catholic guilt.
I decided to use my siblings as a shock absorber and scheduled a conference call with my mother to have a proper discussion. As my brothers stayed silent on the other end, our conversation began. It went something like this:
Mom: Why!? Why are you doing this!? I really don’t understand what’s going on in your head these days. You know, you need to start reading your Bible, and go to confession right away. Are you doing this for a man? Is that all that you're after?To this day, my mother reiterates her thoughts on how, if I led such a lifestyle, I would have a sad and lonely life. I can always hear the sadness in her heart through the tone of her voice whenever we talk; always reassuring me of her sentiments. “I will lose a son, if you decide to do this,” she laments.
Me: No Mommy, I’m not even seeing anyone right now. I’m doing this for myself.
Mom: Good—because you won’t find happiness that way. You know, your dad and I will support you being gay. We’re okay with that. You don’t have to change your body. It’s a sin to change God’s work—He gave us a son.
Me: I’m not happy with the way I am Mom—and I know you’ve known this for a while. You just suppressed it.
Mom:What do you mean you’re not happy with the way you are? That’s how Got made you. And why can’t you just be a gay boy? You’re a handsome gay boy, you have great style, you carry yourself well. You don’t have to change your body. I mean look at Elton John!
Me: I’m not gay, mother. And I look nothing like Elton John—I’m a woman!
[In the background, my brothers started snickering and laughing hysterically.]
Mom: You’re not a woman—you are crazy, that’s what you are.
Me: Well Mommy, you’ve always wanted a daughter haven’t you? Well, I will soon be your daughter.
Mom: You listen to me right now [saying my entire given birth name]—If you decide to do this, you will be dead to me. I was given a son and if you change that, I will not support you—I never will. Our family will disown you.
*CLICK* She hangs up.
Me: [to my brothers, who are still on the line] Well, that went well.
Brother: Just give her some time. You never even told her you were gay. I mean, we always knew, but you never confirmed and said it out loud, and now you’re saying you’re becoming a woman. Come on, it’s hard for all of us to swallow. Just give her some time—she already has a high blood pressure, don’t aggravate her.
My father took a different tactic, refusing to address me directly. I wasn't surprised, since he's always been non-confrontational and passive-aggressive. He did launch into a text offensive, sending me SMS after SMS with the words "SON" and "MAN" in all-caps:
"I feel so lucky that God blessed your mom and I with a SON," one would say. Later that day my phone would buzz with, "I love you SON, take care of yourself. You're a grown MAN now."
I know my decision is hard for my parents to accept, and our relationship as a family is one of the most important things in my life, so I've made the decision to be patient with them—agreeable and compliant with their requests in the hope that one day, they'll understand my unwavering conviction to becoming a woman.
· All Rated XX [Racked]