Phil's Carbon Copy
After transitioning, Jasper Joyner makes peace with their resemblance to their late father.
Sometimes, when we are grieving, our minds choose to forget. The voice, the laugh, the walk. I’d heard this so many times, I started to fear it, because, they say, the face goes first.
But my father passed three years ago, and I’ll never forget his face. All I need to do is look in the mirror.
I look more and more like him every single day. But there was a time, not long enough ago, when I used to cry about this very fact. It seemed a bad thing then. The worst thing! To look like my dad when I was supposed to be a girl.
My father passed three years ago, and I’ll never forget his face. All I need to do is look in the mirror.
Especially when my sister got to prance around, the spitting image of our beautiful mother. I hated it. Not because she was beautiful, but because I was not. Not in the ways I’d learned I was supposed to be. And not even because I, myself, actually wanted to be.
Secretly, I liked how my dad looked. I liked his mischievous smile, his strut instead of a graceful walk, his all of 5’9 that he made feel like 6’5. He was a clever man, a bold force to be reckoned with (though few dared reckoning).
I wanted his confidence and his wit and that gap-toothed grin, and that loud though noiseless laugh with mouth wide open, seemingly breathless, hand tapping knee, too amused to even make a sound.
Secretly, I liked how my dad looked. I liked his mischievous smile, his strut instead of a graceful walk, his all of 5’9 that he made feel like 6’5. He was a clever man, a bold force to be reckoned with (though few dared reckoning)….I wanted his confidence and his wit…
But instead of trying to emulate these things about my father, I did the opposite. A sort of ruse, if you will, to throw off the scent of my quiet though very present transness.
And in that ruse, I lost myself. I pushed my father far away and in running from the truth of his beauty, I began to fear everything within myself that had anything to do with him.
I feared it so much that a decade later, in my early 20s, when I first tried testosterone, I had a sob-filled breakdown in the mirror seeing this strange clone of my father staring back at me. I’d been running for so long. Too long. And now he’d caught up with me.
Instead of trying to emulate these things about my father, I did the opposite. A sort of ruse, if you will, to throw off the scent of my quiet though very present transness…And in that ruse, I lost myself.
It's an off thing, to say the least, to meet the self you thought you’d successfully killed. And so I ran again. I quit testosterone for a moment longer, thinking it was the only way to stay away from him, and that version of me.
But with age comes truth. And comes a slower gait, and reflexes, and at some point you’re too tired to run. At 24, I was too tired to run. I needed to be myself wholly, and that meant I needed to embrace those parts of myself that were my father.
I am 32 now. Phil’s carbon copy. I am the only one of my siblings who fits his old sweaters, my beard grows just like his. My smile crinkles in the same places, my hair is thinning in his very same pattern.
I couldn’t be happier.
My father isn’t here anymore. Not in the traditional sense. I can’t sit and smile at him across the table, we can’t crack up together over old memories at dinner time. But I can move through this world with him in my spirit, on purpose this time. I can strut his strut, I can laugh his laugh, I can be a force to be reckoned with. Because we always shared those truths. His beauty is mine and, thank goodness, I’m not fighting it anymore.
I am 32 now. Phil’s carbon copy. I am the only one of my siblings who fits his old sweaters, my beard grows just like his. My smile crinkles in the same places, my hair is thinning in his very same pattern….I couldn’t be happier.
If all goes well, one day I will be the age he was when he left this place. And I will get older than that age. I will take steps he’s never taken, laugh at jokes he’s never heard, have memories he's never had. But I can look in the mirror on those days and remember, those are his steps, too. His memories, his laughter. And that beautiful, unforgettable face.
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Really wonderful to have a trans story in this space. It’s been over 15 years since I transitioned, and I think a lot about the ways I’ll age and how I’ll experience elder care. I’m happy to see more stories like this, although 32 isn’t quite an “oldster”, ha!
So much love and inspiration in this piece! Thanks for writing :)