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This is a scene from my play Who Has Eyes To See. Jamie is a transgender man who has been away from home for a decade. He left after coming out as transgender. In this scene Jamie and his mother Catherine have a confrontation over Jamie’s identity.

CATHERINE

What are you girls up to today? You should come to church with me. (Silence) Jamie, don’t give me the silent treatment.

JAMIE

Oh, I didn’t know you were talking to me.

CATHERINE

Who else would I be talking to?

JAMIE

(Deep breath) Mom, I know you’re not on board with my transition. And I realize that I’ve been part of the problem: letting you continue to use female pronouns for me. So I want to be clear: It’s not acceptable for you to refer to me with female language and I will no longer answer to it.

CATHERINE

Unacceptable?

JAMIE

Unacceptable to disrespect me. Unacceptable to make me feel unsafe. Unacceptable.

CATHERINE

Jamie, you’re being ridiculous. What has gotten into you?

JAMIE

Nothing has gotten into me. I’m just finally saying the things that I should have said a long time ago.

CATHERINE

A long time ago? When would that have been, exactly? During the ten years of silence?

JAMIE

It wasn’t all silence.

CATHERINE

Oh yes. An out of the blue invitation to tell me you were having a… ceremony. Someone I’d never met. Throwing your lifestyle in my face.

JAMIE

Inviting my mother to my wedding. I wanted you to be a part of the most important day of my life. You didn’t even respond.

CATHERINE

How could I? My heart was breaking.

JAMIE

Over my happiness.

CATHERINE

I gave up everything for you to have a good life. I put aside all of my own desires so I could bring you up in a Godly home and you just rejected all of it.

JAMIE

You have resented me my whole life… for not being what you wanted. You’re so angry now because you’re seeing that you’ve lost control of us and you hate it. You’re finally being confronted with the fact that Emily and I are our own people: that your grip on us isn’t total.

CATHERINE

I have never tried to control you.

JAMIE

You have! All of our lives. You’ve pushed us into one way of living, one way of believing. It’s all been to prop up this perfect Christian family you’ve been trying to build. But life doesn’t work like that. And families aren’t perfect.

CATHERINE

Don’t I know it.

JAMIE

But still you keep trying to make us that way.

CATHERINE

So your response is to come back here and accuse me of things. Tell me everything I’ve done wrong. Saying that I am unacceptable. So, it’s unacceptable to call you what God made you?

JAMIE

I know you can’t understand this, but God made me just as I am.

CATHERINE

I believe that.

JAMIE

A transgender man.

CATHERINE

No. God had nothing to do with your decision.

JAMIE

Who I am wasn’t a decision.

CATHERINE

You decided to destroy the body God gave you.

JAMIE

I decided to fix the body God gave me.

CATHERINE

God doesn’t make mistakes.

JAMIE

I didn’t say I was a mistake.

CATHERINE

But you needed fixing?

JAMIE

I needed to become whole.

CATHERINE

You say I make you feel unsafe? How do I make you feel unsafe?

JAMIE

You insist on using the wrong pronouns for me. You have no idea how that feels, how each one is evidence of your refusal to see me. How each one wounds me.

CATHERINE

Oh that’s ridiculous. All of this fuss over a tiny little word.

JAMIE

It’s what that word represents. It’s my identity, who I am, and you won’t honor that.

CATHERINE

I’m trying to get you to honor God.

JAMIE

I am honoring God.

CATHERINE

That’s just offensive. Your lifestyle is disgusting to God.

JAMIE

You don’t even know me.

CATHERINE

And who’s fault is that! Long silence

JAMIE

No one person is to blame.

CATHERINE

I wasn’t the one to leave.

JAMIE

No. You weren’t. Leaving was on me. But you didn’t reach out. You didn’t show up. It goes both ways.

CATHERINE

You wrote me a letter and then you were just gone. You didn’t even give me time to think about what you had said. You didn’t ask for my help to make it right. You just left.

JAMIE

I didn’t need your help to make it right; I needed your support.

CATHERINE

Do you have any idea how worried I was? I had no idea where you were. I had no idea if you were safe or not. I watch the news. I know what happens to… people like you.

JAMIE

I felt safer out there.

CATHERINE

How could anyplace other than here be safer? I am your family.

JAMIE

Family shouldn’t hurt.

CATHERINE

I never hurt you.

JAMIE

You have no idea.

CATHERINE

I tried to protect you.

JAMIE

By praying I would be miserable?

CATHERINE

You made yourself miserable with your actions. I won’t take blame for your decisions.

JAMIE

I’m not interested in blame. But none of this changes the fact that you don’t know me.

CATHERINE

I know you. I look at your life and I see your pain. Your depression. Your discomfort with your body and I want better for you.

JAMIE

You see that because it’s what you’re looking for.

CATHERINE

I see it because it’s the truth.

JAMIE

It’s not the whole truth.

CATHERINE

There is only one truth.

JAMIE

There isn’t. There are fragments and shards of truth everywhere and we have to put them together.

CATHERINE

I know what I see.

JAMIE

You don’t see me.

CATHERINE

I have seen you from the first time I held my beautiful daughter in my arms. I still see you. I see how hurt you are. I see you unhappy.

JAMIE

You don’t see anything. Because if you did you would see there is all of this love in my life. How even my body and scars are perfect and holy. You would see how fucking beautiful my life is. And you are missing out on all of it.

CATHERINE

How dare you use that vile language in this house! I know you don’t respect me anymore, but you will respect God.

JAMIE

Mom. Language isn’t vile. What’s vile is that you would listen to me pour out my heart and not hear a single word I said other than fuck.

CATHERINE

I heard you.

JAMIE

But you’re not listening.

CATHERINE

I am!

JAMIE

If you were truly hearing me I don’t think you could continue to disrespect me. If you did stand there and really listen to me and are still acting the way that you are? Maybe you are cruel.

CATHERINE

I will not let you talk to me like this.

JAMIE

I am no longer a child. You do not get to dictate my tone.

CATHERINE

You will always be my child. Jamie, God says that in order for your life to go well, you have to respect your parents. You don’t respect me and your life is not going well.

JAMIE

You don’t hear a word I say. Listen, God also says for parents not to exasperate their children. So I guess we’re stuck.

CATHERINE

You don’t get to quote Scripture just to make yourself feel right.

JAMIE

Why not? You do it all the time.

 CATHERINE

Jamie.

JAMIE

I don’t know how to communicate with you. You quote these Scriptures at me as if I don’t know them. But I do. I know them as well as you do. It seems like you’re using them as a shield so you don’t have to have a real conversation with me. I’m not trying to discount your faith in God. I’m just asking you to talk to me.

CATHERINE

That’s what we’re doing.

JAMIE

You’re trying to convert me. You’re quoting Scripture at me. You’re telling me all of the ways that I am getting it wrong. That is not a conversation. It’s a lecture with pauses. And in every pause you simply wait for me to give the answer you want to hear. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t give you what you want. I will never be what you want.

CATHERINE

Why are you making your heart so hard?

JAMIE

My heart isn’t hard. My heart has never been hard. Mom, my heart has been ripped open again and again and again and it has never healed, there is no scar tissue on it. It is simply open. Maybe bleeding a little. I am longing to connect with you. Can’t you see me standing here? Can’t you see your son, standing here, trying to get you to see him?

CATHERINE

I don’t have a son. Long beat

JAMIE

No. I guess you don’t.

Jamie Exits

 

Want to see a video of this scene? You can see one on the theatre company’s Facebook page.