By Nicolás Cortez
Being transgender and a person of color with parents who are immigrants is a particular experience. Mind you, there’s nothing easy about being trans but the added layer of being a minority only furthers my point.
My family that has been in America for a little over 20 years. I was born and raised in Queens, New York City. My parents lived in a rented basement when I was born and my father worked 3 separate jobs. My mother attempted to give me a chance of being a normal kid. Neither one of them spoke a word of English until my dad began to take free courses.
My parents were born and raised in villages and cities that had a fraction of the resources that New York City has. Not knowing their own value to the world, not knowing what it meant to have a stable family, not knowing how to recognize their own trauma.
They never had the time to learn about other people. They lived in a world where openly trans and queer folks didn’t exist. Sometimes many first generation American children never realize this about their parents. Never realizing how much trauma, hurt, pain, and suffering they may have bottled up and they never learned how to communicate their own emotions. I understand now that the “faults” they have as parents. The faults that movies and T.V had taught me were products of their own experiences. I watch these coming of age movies that reflects my parent’s life story but I still can’t wrap my mind around it. To me, my mother is the woman who fed me with her breasts and my father is the man who taught me how to use my Spanish tongue. But too America, they are just another immigrant story.
Both of my parents lived with one or no parents, so they had an edge when it came to staying together for their own child. My father, as much as he doesn’t want to admit to it, faced many obstacles with his own mental health and trying to understand himself while trying to understand the evolving world around him. My mother holds up her emotions and trauma for the sake of being a symbol of strength and resilience. Both of them are the strongest people I know. However, just like everyone else, they are not perfect. They do make mistakes. Some say that I should hate them for those mistakes. But you can’t do that with parents of color. They may not be the most loving or maybe they’re just too loving, but they made it this far. They left their homes for me. They suffered the worst this country has to offer. They saw the world in color and stained with red.
As much as it angers me when they call me by the name I was given, and does not understand the person I’m still trying to fit into, like a new pair of jeans, I still forgive them. I forgive them for not accepting my trans identity from day one, for not calling me by my name, for not being completely open to accepting their son, and for so many other things. I forgive them because with this experience, it has taught me to be patient, considerate, understanding, and forgiving. Because understanding where people are coming from with their opinions is possibly one of the most important lessons I’ve learned. My parents may have done me wrong many times, but I remember that they brought me up to not be a person full of hate, self pity, gluttony, and anger. Son or daughter, my mother vowed to raise me the same way. I do not speak for every trans person of color, but I do speak for myself and for every brown and black child who knew they were different in more than just the color of your skin.
To my parents; you are not just another immigrant story. You are the woman who fed me with your breasts, you are the man who taught me how to use my Spanish tongue. You are my parents, and I forgive you.