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After having a conversation with a friend at my universty's LGBTQ+ center, they made the observation that my defining personality trait up until this point has largely centered around my desire to please other people and make them feel as if I wasn't wasting their time. And they were right. All of my life has essentially been me trying to perform to the expectations of my parents and society. Even my choice to become an engineer centered around this desire to prove that I was worth other peoples' time. The reason I work so hard and do what I do is because in my mind, I have nothing else of value to offer. I'm a bland person whose sole purpose in life is to gain the acceptance of other people by acting as they do and helping them in any way that I can. It's this lack of personality and ultimate lack of self-worth that I feel was the trigger for my crossdreaming. Although I was too naive to realize it a few months ago, I think a part of me inherently desires the freedom that femininity and being a girl seems to posess. Even today, when I crossdream, I don't imagine myself becoming a girl through transition so much as just magically becoming someone else. Someone who's free from expectation.
I think many of my issues with self worth and coming to terms with all of this largely center around my father's influence during childhood. However, in understanding this influence, I think it's valuable for me to first look at what infuenced my father's childhood. My biological grandfather died when my father was only 4 years old. In addition, he was the youngest of 8 siblings and grew up on a dairy farm in northern Vermont. In spite of being mechanically minded, he never really excelled in school and lashed out physically against other students. Eventually his relationship with my grandmother become so strained that he was kicked out of the house and forced to live in a mobile home for his last two years of high school. During that time, he worked 2 jobs and struggled to keep himself fed and the lights on. Not really seeing many other options, he joined the army at 17 hoping to find some direction and a steady paycheck. After being deployed during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, he left the military to raise me and support my mother. I think for him, being a father and having a son was his shot at righting the wrongs of his own life. Rather than growing up without a father figure, he would be there to guide me to becoming a young man. Rather than struggling in school, I would excell academically and be the first person in my family to go to college. Rather than living paycheck to paycheck and worrying about where I was going to lay my head, he would make sure that I was always safe and never went hungry.
And while all of those seem like great things, the harsh reality of the situation was that I always felt that I could never measure up to what he wanted and what he experienced. Any time that I desired something outside of what was considered my father's view for my future, I was reminded of the above story and was washed in a sea of guilt and humility. I wanted my father's approval so badly, and the only way that I was going to get it was by being what he thought was the perfect son. I did everything that he wanted me to do, but even as I write this, I still feel shame. I feel shame over the fact that I'm never going to be the son that he wants me to be. And I feel shame from not being true to myself, whatever that means.
Going back to the issue of crossdreaming and transition, I feel shame from both because I know that they're against that ideal view. My father's extremely conservative and consistently rails against the transgender community. His Facebook page consists almost entirely of posts about how the men of this generation are "weak" and how "men" (e.g. - transgender women) should not be abe to use the ladies room. If I were to tell him about any of this, I honestly have no idea how he'd react, but I can guarantee that it's definitely not going to be a supportive conversation. I'm 20 years old now, going on 21 this August and I have no idea what I'm going to do going forward. I could continue to go along the path that my father expects of me. He would be happy that I turned out the way he wanted, but I'd continue to feel empty and alone. Conversely, I could come out to my parents, but in doing so I'd more than likely lose the respect and support of my father. All that he wanted for me would be gone in an instant, and he'd probably feel like he failed in raising a son. It's a classic situation of damned if I do, damned if I don't. No matter which way you slice it, I'll always have to live with that feeling of not measuring up for the rest of my life. Always trying to achieve something that's just never going to happen...