The Trans Parent Whose Journey Inspired a Television Show

The New Yorker has an excerpt of Jill Soloway’s forthcoming memoir, She Wants It: Desire, Power and Toppling the Patriarchy. In it, the “Transparent” creator recalls the incident that led to the Amazon Prime series: her father coming out to her as transgender. Soloway touches on the ways in which her father’s announcement was initially difficult for her — and other family members — to accept.

I wondered what I was supposed to think about the old version of my dad that I remembered. The big one with the beard that wasn’t actually dead, but was—where, exactly? When I told my friend Nicole about my dad, she said, “Oh, she must be so relieved, to get that big old monkey suit off.” But where was that monkey suit that used to contain my dad? Was it on the floor somewhere, deflated? The notion got me thinking about my own lifetime of bodily disconnect.

Not long after, I got word that Carrie’s sister, my aunt Ruth, was nearing the end of her life. My mom had also scheduled hip-replacement surgery and needed us for support. I decided to go to Chicago to say goodbye to Ruth, be there as my mom went into surgery, and finally meet Carrie.

Ruth was in her eighties. When I got to her apartment, her hospice attendant opened the door. She was sweet, and the space felt warm and quiet. I went to sit at Ruth’s bedside. She took sips of water. I told her how much I loved her and how good she looked. Her son David, my cousin, would be there soon. But, before he arrived, she wanted something from me. Could I give her my thoughts on a letter she wanted to write to my dad?

“What’s in the letter?” I asked.

“I don’t want him to come to my funeral in women’s clothing,” she said.

“O.K.,” I said.

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