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Nature or Nurture?

Chapter Three


I guess the stereotypical dad would have reacted with disbelief and fear, then would have quickly moved to explosive anger. And when he saw the look of absolute shock on my face it was apparent he was expecting just that. But I’m not the stereotypical dad. Shock yes, anger no. Just two questions forming in my mind: “Did I have anything to do with this ? Nature or nurture ?”

So I stalled. “Ronnie,” I said, without realizing the name I’d just used, “do you really know what you’re saying ? Have you really thought how you would go about this ? And what it would do to your life ? ”

He was now very choked up — and I was too — but he started to talk. And for more than an hour I listened, bewildered that this had been going on for so long without any of us knowing — Karen, Christine or myself. He told me how the Ronnie idea had grown on him in grade school and how he’d become more and more sure that he should have been born a girl. He thought that maybe he was crazy and he’d be locked up if anyone found out. And so he’d aggressively thrown himself into the boy things he enjoyed – hockey and karting, with dreams of becoming a professional race car driver — Maple Ridge’s Greg Moore his hero — hoping all this would dismiss the feelings and longings that he didn’t dare tell anyone about.

But it didn’t. And as he got into his teenage years he started to accept this new vision of Ron as Ronnie. When he was home by himself he’d dress up in Christine’s or Karen’s clothes and shoes. Discovered a couple of wigs in our bedroom closet. Experimented with make-up. Watched how girls dressed. Secretly copied their body-language. Got into a lot of furtive reading, starting with Dr. Benjamin, which led him to discover to his relief that there were others who felt the same way. That fact reinforced through contacts on the internet. All the time becoming more and more convinced that he had to become Veronica. This right through high school and UBC. And none of us had ever guessed. Only McNish ever saw Veronica, he said, and the wee dog was totally unjudgemental, he added with a ghost of a smile.