The Imaginary Woman
Jessie’s father was horribly sexist. He always blamed his mother for the way he turned out, completely releasing himself from any responsibility for his own actions. It was really hard to tell what of his mother was real and what was one of his many tall tales. He was known for telling lies. In fact, much of his world was a lie.
One prime example of his lies and his hatred of women was seen in Jessie’s birth. On that day, their mother’s normal doctor was not available and his partner, a female doctor, attended the birth. Jessie’s mom suffered signs of pre-eclampsia and was given magnesium, but the dose she received didn’t do the job and the doctor was wary about giving her a higher dose. Jessie’s dad claimed that the doctor was too incompetent to make the final decision, that she was too scared and meek to take the initiative, and that he alone stood between his wife and death. The reality was that such a risky treatment required legal consent before the doctor could go through with it and she was asking for said consent.
Jessie had the misfortune of being born with female parts but having a different gender identity. Misfortunate? Well, yes, because this sexist, narcissistic pig was their father. He not only disliked women, he had all sorts of misconceptions and stereotypes in his head as to what women were. Now he was faced with a conundrum that he didn’t understand, nor did he ever make the effort to try. Instead, he tried to hammer a square peg into a round hole with a jackhammer.
As a child, Jessie wore their hair short and was often mistaken for a boy. They sometimes pretended to be one because they had a hard time relating to or identifying with girls, but boys didn’t match up either. Jessie often ended up saying they were neither. At the time they didn’t known what agender or non-binary was and neither did the people who ridiculed them. But none of that ridicule came close to what their father did to them.
Jessie remembers the Christmas they got a Cabbage Patch doll that they didn’t want. It was his gift, of course. All Jessie can guess is he thought they wanted one because their friend had one. A lot of their father’s gifts, however, were girl-themed items that they disliked. Or else they were thoughtless and empty gestures of a man who thought he had to get something and grabbed whatever was in front of him. This whole situation was just one sign of his gender blindness.
You see, Jessie’s dad did not see who Jessie really was, he saw an assumption that he made about them. Somewhere deep down Jessie thought he saw the real person and disliked them, so he tried to force them into a mold he understood. (As I stated before.) That mold, of course, never matched the real Jessie and they hated him for it, sometimes to the point of violence. There was more than one occasion as a teenager where Jessie attacked their father in frustration.
Jessie was often accused of doing “female” things that they never did in the first place. He word put words in Jessie’s mouth that he thought a woman would say. He acted like Jessie liked things that they had absolutely no interest in, but they were things that women supposedly were into. He kept buying books and other items to show Jessie woman role models. He ridiculed Jessie for doing things that weren’t feminine and even sometimes outright banned them from doing them in the first place. Or else he created an image for Jessie when others were looking.
Jessie remembers the time they went to see Titanic with their dad. Everything went fine until they got home and Jessie’s dad started teasing them in front of the neighbor, claiming that they had a big crush on Leonardo DiCaprio. Jessie was surprised because they never indicated an interest in the actor. (Jessie is also asexual and aromantic, so never experienced crushes in the first place.) Looking back at the incident, Jessie sees that this was his attempt to make them seem “normal” somehow. It pissed them off royally, but not as much as the bullshit he spewed a few years later.
One day Jessie and their father got into a discussion about having kids. After not accepting the fact that Jessie didn’t want children in the first place, their father informed them that they needed to get married because their kids needed a father figure. He then looked at Jessie and, assuming lesbianism because they never went for men, said that in their case they could find a proper woman to play the masculine role.
Jessie was very angry and demanded to know of any existing instance where they had ever been feminine. Of course Jessie’s dad backpedaled, stammered, pouted, and then said something along the lines of “someone needs to play the masculine side.” His sexism reared it’s ugly head again when he insisted that a woman was incapable of being assertive enough to discipline children. It was incredibly insulting to realize that, not only was he a sexist pig of the highest level, he thought of Jessie as a meek, delicate, feminine creature, an image that had never been projected by them in the first place.
It seemed that no matter what Jessie did, their father only saw what he wanted to see. He could look right at them and see nothing but his delusion, and it followed him into death. After he died, Jessie peeked at his diary and found the real depth of his mythology of them. He boasted about Jessie’s sister and all the things she was doing for at least three paragraphs. For Jessie he only wrote that he hoped they found “herself” someday. Meaning that because they didn’t match up to his ideal, somehow they were lost and confused about it. Jessie closed the diary in deep disgust.
Jessie still hates their father for what he did. They’re not interested in forgiving him or trying to understand what was pure bigotry. They have no sympathy for a delusional jerk. To call him an asshole would be an insult to assholes everywhere. At least Jessie can be happy that they have members of their family that accept them for who they are, as not every non-binary or transgender person does.
This is just one story of the type of discrimination, denial, and forced roles that this minority receives on a daily basis. It is always revolting, but it is particularly reprehensible when it is a member of one’s own family. I can only ask, what the hell is wrong with people? Can’t someone be who they really are without dealing with all the bullshit? But I have no answer to those questions. I remain baffled and disgusted.