I understand that there are a great deal of you out there struggling for the courage to tell your parents, family and friends who you really are. I can’t even fathom how scary that must be. Here I am born into a body that suits me just fine. But I did have cancer once, so I know what it feels like to have that separation of mind and body and to also feel betrayed by that body. It’s not the same I know, but it’s a close as I can come to walking your walk.
When my extraordinary daughter confided in me that she was born in the wrong body, she did so in a letter. Well, an email really. As close as we are, she could not tell me this to my face. And I don’t blame her. In her email (sent from her bedroom to mine) she got right to the point in a single paragraph, and included explicit instruction not to speak to her about it in person. So, what did I do? I marched right in there and started a conversation. She was so scared and nervous that it broke my heart. It no longer mattered what the conversation was, I just wanted her to feel comfortable to talk to me and be herself with me. My girl was amazing. She was quiet and patient and no matter what I said or asked, her response was a tentative and gentle “I love you.” Genius, right? That’s my girl.
It took a long time for life to return to “normal” but we found our groove and I learned to go at her pace. (Sometimes she had to remind me to slow down.) I took on the responsibility of telling the rest of the family, and I did so without her present. I assume acceptance, I don’t ask for it. But, people need time to digest. To ask questions, to understand what it is that we’re telling them. There is a lot of misinformation and misrepresentation out there that has left a negative stigma attached to transgender. It takes time to cut through that crap and undo the falsehoods. I found it easier to avoid the word transgender in the beginning. I came at it sideways and let my family know that my son was actually my daughter… with a hormone problem. A treatable hormone problem. And then I asked them for their help. People generally want to help. They want to feel useful. Giving my family members a task helped ease them into the transition of letting go of an assigned sex, and seeing her for the person she’s always been.
When it came time to tell her friends, my girl wrote them a letter too. This one was a little longer, a little more thought-out, and she planned to post in on Facebook the night that all of her friends would be at their grade 8 graduation. My girl didn’t want to attend, and I don’t blame her for that either. If you can’t party in sequins and lace, it ain’t a party. Once she posted it, we sat together in a cuddle on the sofa on pins and needles waiting for the dance to end and the comments to begin. We were beside ourselves with fear, and the wait was excruciating. But finally, they came. They came in droves. And the support was overwhelming. It brought tears to my eyes and my girl was floating around on cloud nine. We hugged and danced and laughed at our own silliness. To all the people who left a comment of support on my girl’s Facebook page that night… thank you, thank you, thank you. From the very bottom of my mommy heart.
My girl has given me permission to repost that letter to her friends here. I hope that it may inspire some of you to find the words and courage to let go of all that you’re not, and live each day with who you really are.
**Update – You can read more of our story, or find tools for acceptance in my new ebooklet, an unwanted penis. Now available on Amazon, and coming soon to an e-retailer near you. Spread the word and help more of our youth gain acceptance from their parents. #anunwantedpenis