In December of 1980, my ex-wife Ann gave birth to a daughter. She had moved to Phoenix a few months before so when I heard the news she was livng 1400 miles from Spokane where I lived. In March I bought a seven day Freedom pass for Greyhound and made the two day trip down to Phoenix to visit Ann and see her new daughter. I had reasons to hope that Sara might be my daughter. However, when I in Phoenix and holding Sara, I asked Ann and was told that I was not. I had planned to stay a few days but the decision was made that it was best if I left so the day after my arrival I was on the bus heading back to Spokane.
I was 27 years old at the time. I was unmarried and as I had just learned I was not the father of Ann’s daughter. I had tried marriage once in the hope it might ‘cure’ me. It had not. While my crossdressing was the underlying reason Ann and I divorced the more immediate reason are the lies I had to tell to protect my secret. A marriage supported by lies is not a marriage at all. While I knew I had failed as a husband, that being married had not been enough for me, that Ann had had a child, that I could have been the father, ignited a new hope that maybe as a father I would find a ‘cure.’ I knew as I headed back to Spokane, a city filled with so many memories, that I would never marry again. I would never do to another woman the wrong I had done to Ann. I would never be a father. When I got back to Spokane, I had two days left on my seven day pass. I made a decision and two days later I was as fpar as I could get from Spokane using the pass — Denver.
Denver did not work out for me. As it turned out Mom and Merle were traveling through Denver in May on their way to Dallas, where Mike and Nanette were to soon give birth to their first child. And that is how I got to Dallas the first time. I would ultimately move to Dallas four times in my life and move away four times. But that is another story for another time. In March of 1981, I moved back to Spokane having lived in Dallas for five years or so. I had already moved back to Spokane once beforer and then returned to Dallas so this was my second time moving back to Spokane from Dallas. My first night back in Spokane was the first time I went out to a gay bar en femme and would be a pivotal event in my life. [Once another story, another time.]
Not long after I returned to Spokane at the age of 38, Ann contacted me and asked me to meet her for lunch. We had lunch at Dewey, Cheatum and How, an appropriate choice considering our past. She had something she wanted to share but first she had to ask of me one question. “Do you still want to be a woman?” That is something that she had learned about me at some point around the time of our divorce. I cannot recall if it was before or after the divorce. I really did not see how it was any business of hers as she was re-married and raising a family. So I lied again. “No that is in my past.” She then told me that there was a possibility that Sara was my daughter. As she is Catholic and because of me she had had to get a divorce and then ultimately had a child out of wedlock had prompted her to be less than honest ten years before. I cannot fault her as our whole marriage had been built around my own lies told to her.
At the time DNA testing was very expensive. I am thinking it was around $1500 as it seemed like my half of the costs would have been about $700-$800. Neither of us had the funds to pay for the testing. Mom was shown pictures of Sara and was convinced Sara looked a lot like Cheri at that age. She was convinced Sara had to my daughter.
To put this all in a timeframe, at the age of thrity eight, after I had finally begun to accept myself as transgender, not that I knew of that term at the time, I had reason once again to think I might be a father. However what kind of father could I be as a woman. By the question Ann posed, I knew that as a woman she could never allow me to be part of Sara’s life. The next several years of my life were the arguably the worse years of my life. I wanted to be a father. But doing so meant once again concealing who I am to those I love. Long story short for the next twenty years of my life, each and every time I made a list of life goals the first item on the list was always ‘Find out if Sara is or isn’t my daughter.’
When Sara was older, she reached out to me and she fully accepted me. We connected but ultimately our interactions came to an end. However, in 2012 I moved back to Washington state from my most recent stay in Dallas. I moved to Hoquaim and moved in with Bruce and Debbie who have been nothing but supportive. I have made several life decisions since moving back. These have included coming out fully as transgender to family and friends, beginning hormone treatments for transtioning, legally changing my name and ID gender marker. I also finally — FINALLY!! — decided to get the necessary DNA test done to see whether or not I was Sara’s father. Sadly, it came back negative. I am not Sara’s father. I feel worse for Sara because as best I have been led to believe as I never not her father she will never know who her father is. Or maybe to be more accurate, she will never know her father.
Over a period of twenty-five years, I told myself time and time again that is I was a ‘real man’ I would find a way to get the DNA testing done and ‘prove’ that Sara was my daughter. I never entertained the idea that she was not my daughter. But I also knew I was not a ‘real man,’ that I could never really be a father to her. I did not want to know the truth because the truth would spotlight one more way I had failed as a man. And to a certain extent as a person. While it is true DNA testing cost were high, I never made paying for the test a real priority. I spent twenty-five years of my life thinking of myself as a horrible father. That I was not her father, that I had never been her father, did not give me any comfort.
I suspect this post will be my most personal post. I am not sure whether or not I did an effective job of telling this story and sharing my struggles but in my heart it was the hardest story to tell.