Tell me about yourself.
I’m Micah. I’m studying theology and I want to be an episcopal priest. I’m a proud socialist; way before it was cool to like Bernie. I’m transgender. I write a lot - mostly poetry and nonfiction.
Tell me about your mom.
My mom is Sicilian. She feeds everyone. I bring home a huge group of people with almost no notice and it will be fine because she will always make enough food. I have a gluten intolerance, and it’s probably from all the pasta I ate as a kid. She is a drug and alcohol counselor. She was an alcoholic but she’s been sober for 30 years. She also co-pastors a church with my dad. The church that they started is full of mostly dysfunctional people. They were addicted or are addicted. Many are illiterate. They are the people that churches don’t want. There are also people who are educated with jobs, so there is a balance. She shows a lot of love to people, and she was my first lesson in loving people.
How is your relationship with her?
She doesn’t like my short hair. She says it makes me look like a boy. She makes me wear a hat when I’m home. It feels like a rejection of a part of me that is a reality. I feel like she doesn’t have the right to do that to me. I wear the hat anyway, and it’s weird what we do for the people we love. I wouldn’t let anyone else treat me that way.
What do you most love about your mom?
What I love about my mom is her love for people who are difficult to love, her fierce commitment to people who the WASP church says they don’t matter, and she shows them that they matter.
But you don’t feel like she offers the same amount of understanding with you?
There are certain people that it doesn’t extend to. She used to work for Al Sharpton, but I don’t know why she isn’t a liberal. She wouldn’t even identity herself as a feminist.
Would you say your relationship with her is an open one?
There are cyclical blowups. Silence and then a blowup. I don’t tell her about anything regarding my dating life at all. When I came out to them my freshman year, there had already been some girls, and she asked me about that. I answered that it was total introspection, mom. I kept everything from her. I had a really sad breakup, and she did know about that relationship, but I just told her that it was a thing.
But she just had you wear a hat?
Yes, exactly! The hat is a perfect symbol. The part about my mom that has shaped my identity, was the fierce love for people that aren’t loved. That has stuck with me. All the empathy and compassion I have was taught by her, and that’s really cool. She’s been through a lot. Instead of being a victim, she is so strong. She’s an advocate for people. I see her when a client relapses, and she gets so sad. I just see that love that she has for people. Addicts are really hard to love, and she just cares so much for them. On the negative side, a lot of the decisions I’ve made since 16 till now at 19, have been a reaction to her. Conscious and unconscious decisions about what would piss her off.
Do you see a way forward in your relationship with her? Do you think it’s going to change?
I hope it’s not going to stay stuck. I’m learning how to not be reactive. How to not immediately emotionally react. We’ve had a couple of actual conversations, in the last couple of months, and that hasn’t really happened before. Sometimes I feel like I don’t even have a mom, because she doesn’t know me anymore. She doesn’t know Micah. To her I'm still Mary. Coming out the first time was so bad, that I’m not going to tell her that I’m trans. She thought she had a daughter, and now she has a son.
How does your relationship with you dad affect everything?
My dad - the person that I call my dad is actually my step dad. My mom and my biological dad met in AA. She recovered beautifully but he did not. He turned out to be very abusive. Abusive parents generally have target children, and I was not. I was also quite young. My one sister still definitely struggled a lot since she was a target child. She actually has PTSD. I haven’t seen my father since I was six, which is good. My step dad and my mom got married when I was seven. He’s been our dad. On the one hand he was a good dad, and on the other hand not. It’s really hard for me to give him grace. My mom defers to my dad, and totally backs him up, and sometimes we just want to say that she should oppose him if he’s in the wrong.
Is there anything else you would want to say about your mom?
My mom always talked about her childhood. Italian, really big family values. She loves babies, and she wants grandchildren. She always talked about us having children. Weird childbirth things, and it was just an expectation that we would have kids, and be mommies, and our kids would have great daddies who love Jesus. I never connected with that, since I was a boy! I never connected to that motherhood frame, but then when I came out as a lesbian, because I’m not out to them as trans, it all stopped. She still talks about it with my sister. She’ll talk about her future family, but not with me. On the one hand I never connected with it anyway, but I still miss it.
Would she have more of a problem with you being transgender than lesbian?
She actually mentioned it to me while I was still thinking about it, and I just told her I’m not trans. But she said, “I gave birth to a girl.”
So to her being a lesbian is ok, but Micah is much worse?
Neither is ok, but probably the latter is worse.
Why did you choose Micah?
Cause it sounded good with Cronin. Also, if I were to get a Bible verse tattooed on my body, it would be Micah 6:8. It says, "He has shown thee, O man, what is good; and what the Lord requires of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"