The Story of the Prodigal Transgender Daughter

The Story of the Prodigal Transgender Daughter March 8, 2016

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Let me give a new twist to an old story.

Mitchell had fought back the growing awareness that deep down, despite all outward appearances, he was really a she. His family—well, everyone—had always called him “he,” had always called him Mitchell… but deep down, where no one could see, “he” was a “she.” And she was Marisa.

But he had no idea how he would tell his father. No idea… No help.

Mitchell wrote a note:

“Dear Dad,

I cannot live this way anymore. I have tried for 20 years, and I cannot change this. I know you won’t understand – it’s taken ME this long to understand – but I’m leaving. You see, I am not a man, I am a woman. And I have to go figure out what that means. I know this hurts you, and I’m sorry… but I have no choice. Say bye to Mark for me – he’s a good brother.”

And so Mitchell headed off on a journey where no one could follow. She changed her number when she left, and never once called her family. In the process, Mitchell became Marisa.

After a time – was it six months? Two years? Marisa hardly knew… but it felt like a lifetime, with a rebirth and a brand new identity: Marisa decided to reconnect with her family. What possessed her to do it, she had no idea, but she got in the car and began to drive.

She had no idea what to expect as she took the familiar roads toward home. How would they receive her? Suddenly seized with fear, she panicked. She pulled over only miles from home.

Home! She hadn’t said the word home since she left, and she had pushed every thought of home away, because she knew they would not accept her there. She had left as Mitchell and now she’s going back as Marisa. How did she expect to go home again? She had no idea what she could possibly say.

She dialed home. She had to know what was ahead of her. Her dad picked up, and Marisa dumped out words that made no sense – trying to talk and not listen – oh what in the world was she doing?

As she spoke, she heard her father’s words break through: “Yes! Come home! I have missed you so! Please, please come home!”

Somehow she drove final miles back to the house so familiar and yet strangely unfamiliar. She pulled in the driveway. Was that her father running out the door to her? Marisa panicked, but through power beyond her, she got out of the car. She had never seen her father run! How weird is that?

Her father picked her up and hugged her. Then he stopped and looked at her, taking her in, head to toe. “I can’t believe you’re here!” he said over and over. “I missed you terribly! You look great!” Tears streamed down his face – something Marisa had never seen.

Neighbors looked out windows – and a few stepped outside to see this father skipping with joy up the steps, arm flung over his child, back after all this time. “My baby’s home,” he called back to the neighbor watching from her lawn.

“I hope you’re hungry,” Dad said. “I went out and picked up dinner for us after you called.”

“Yes, I am!” she said, suddenly realizing how hungry she actually was. “Where is Mark?”

“He’s at work,” his dad answered, piling two plates high with food. “Here’s your plate – I’ll pour the wine. Now you sit down and tell me all about you!” They ate and drank and talked long into the night.

Finally they hugged and Dad said, “I am overjoyed to see you. I am so, so glad you came home.”

That night Marisa slept in her old bed. She had a deep sense of peace. Where she used to cry tears of anguish, she now cried tears of joy.

She was loved. She was home.

Well, the next morning Mark found his dad in the kitchen making coffee and pancakes, as Marisa slept in. “So how long is he staying?”

“Marisa?” his dad asked. “She’s home, Mark. She’ll be here for as long as she wants.”

“Dad… his name is Mitchell,” Mark said. “Mitchell’s a guy. How can you let him come in our house like this? He made a fool of you. He walked out of here without a look back, after causing all kinds of crap for me, and here he parades back in in heels, and you’re okay with it? What is the matter with you?”

“Son, when Mitchell left like that, I thought I would die. Losing your mother was the worse time in my life – and then to lose Mitch… how can you be okay with that? Sit down with me. Listen, Mitch told me about wanting to be a woman, no, knowing he was a woman… she was a woman. But I couldn’t hear it, Mark. It made no sense to me.

“Then when he left, I was out of my mind. What had I done to my boy, being so unwilling to listen that he left. How could I drive him away like that? So I did what I should have done in the very first place. I searched out answers. I tried to understand what this whole transgender thing meant. I don’t know why some people feel this way but they do. And there’s nothing they can do to change it. I’ve learned a lot since your brother’s been gone.”

“I know, Dad, and now you’re all ‘enlightened.’ He suckered you in. I couldn’t believe you were buying this crap.”

“Son, if you had taken this journey with me, you might understand it better. I’m just sorry I didn’t try to understand it before.”

Mark fairly spat his words out now. “Take that journey with you? Mitch finally gets out of here and I’m finally done listening about all his stupid crap – and now he’s back. And you welcome him? You got dinner for him last night, and you’re making breakfast now. What about me? When did you do that for me?”

“Mark, I’m always here for you! Everything I have is yours. I have prayed night and day for Mitch to come back. And now Mitch is Marisa. And of course she is welcome in our home. That doesn’t change anything about you.”

“Dad, I did everything right! I never took a wrong turn! Why do you anything for him? What about me?” He felt like a child but he couldn’t help it. “I want to have dinner together.”

“Oh Mark, you have me! I’m here! We do have dinner together – every night you don’t have something else you’d rather be with!

Mark couldn’t help the tears now, and his dad pulled him close and held him. “Mark, my beloved son, I have always loved you with all my heart. Don’t resent Mitch… he was miserable for years. I could never get it but I get it now. Mitch is finally who he always wanted to be – she’s Marisa, and she’s happy! Let her have that.” He stroked Mark’s head as Mark closed his eyes.

“I just want you to be proud of me, Dad.”

“Oh, my son, my son. I couldn’t be more proud of you! Don’t do things to make me proud or gain my approval. You already have it. Nothing will ever make me prouder of you, my beloved son. Enjoy how much I love you! Be at peace.”

“You’re who you should be, and Marisa is who she should be. I love you both for who you are, and exactly the way you are.”

For information on Susan’s new book for LGBTQ to help heal from parent, family, religious and community wounds, please CLICK HERE.

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