(I ask that you share this so that the person it is intended for may have a better chance of reading it.)
To the Dad who buried his 32 year-old daughter as his son:
I understand that the loss of a child is the hardest thing a parent can endure. I understand that you are hurting, and I cannot even begin to know how that hurt must feel. I understand that you loved your child … the problem is that the child you loved never existed.
Born with male parts, you named her Geoffrey. You had dreams and desires for your son, and nobody faults you for that. You had no way of knowing that this baby’s gender would not match up with her physical sex. You had a responsibility, however, to accept and support her as she lived her life as Jennifer. She didn’t ask for this, nobody does. In a society that clings so desperately to gender roles, it takes a lot of courage to come out. Courage, though, does not mean the absence of fear. I didn’t know Jennifer, but I know people like her. She struggled with that fear. She needed your love and support, but instead you closed your heart. You failed in your responsibility as a parent.
I have watched people deal with the loss of their children, and they all have one thing in common. Each and every one of them honours that child and cherishes the memory of who they were. By cutting her hair, dressing her in a suit, and writing an obituary for Geoffrey, you could not have dishonoured your child more. This was your daughter, and you should be ashamed of yourself. As a father myself, I cannot imagine refusing to accept my own child. It doesn’t matter to me that my progeny be gay or straight, identify as male, female, or other. My children have my unconditional support. If the person I thought was my son turns out to be my daughter, I will accept that. Why? Because I want to know my kids. I want to love who they are, not who I mistook them for. Like you, I have no way of knowing beforehand. Unlike you, I actually love my children, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity may be.
Under normal circumstances, I would not speak to a grieving parent in this way, but you have insulted your own child beyond her passing. That is reprehensible. I can only hope that you will one day open your heart and mind to those things that you do not yet accept. You have committed a terrible injustice in erasing all mention of your daughter after she passed. Perhaps someday you will pick up a book and read about transgender issues. Perhaps someday you will come to realize that you haven’t lost a son, you have lost a daughter. There is no way of telling her that you’re sorry now, but becoming an ally of the LGBTQ+ community would be a wonderful way to honour her. Turn your spite to love. Open your eyes and accept people as they are.
My heart bleeds for Jennifer. She died much too young, and she died without acceptance from her family. She lived as a woman because she was a woman. Your refusal to accept her hasn’t changed that, and your decision to bury and write about her as if she was a man is a very telling testament to your character. From one father to another, shame on you. We are Dads, and a good Dad doesn’t turn his back on his kids. No parent should ever do that. If I did what you did, I would spend the rest of my life trying to make amends somehow. I don’t know if you are happy with yourself, but I sincerely hope not. As a father distraught over the way you abandoned your child, I will boldly say that you, sir, are a disgrace.
A Real Dad