I came out
to my parents today, via e-mail. The names have been changed to protect the innocent
Hey, Mom. Hey, Dad. Just wanted to let you know about something, though it'd probably be best if you were sitting down.
So, I've been seeing a therapist. Four of them, actually; the first one was a social worker by the name of Paul, who I saw for five months; the second one was a guy named Rick, who I saw for one session (I look forward to being one of the Faces of Those He Has Wronged that float by as he falls into Hell); it was at this point that I bounced over to a third therapist whose name I don't remember, who I saw for the same amount of time; it was at this point that New Orleans was hosed down like an African-American civil rights demonstrator in the tumultuous mid-twentieth century, and I had to find some other place to live. While at Susan's house, I made it a point to seek out organizations that would help my cause. I found a nonprofit GLBT center in downtown Manhattan that was extremely sympathetic and helpful, and it's from them that I received the name of Frog Rock, with whom I had my first session a mere nineteen hours ago, a /very/ experienced psychotherapist who specializes in dealing with people like me.
"People Like Me" is in reference to the transgendered, so you know.
I'm not going to lie and say I've known from my earliest memories, because my earliest memory is of a birthday party someone had when I was three; I was holding a balloon and I had no pants on (believe it when I say that for my thirtieth, I'll be replicating the same circumstances). But it dates way, way, way back to back when I was a sullen, androgynous young chap, neither really interested in Battle Beasts or My Little Ponies, who constantly sought an escape into the fantastic realm of videogames, and it was really fleshed out when I entered puberty in middle school and I had those vague psychological issues, for which you benevolently sent me to all those therapists. I personally thought everyone was struggling with the same personal questions, so I kept the lid shut on that issue until it ended up surfacing on its own in 2001.
Did either of you keep up with my first comic series, The Valorous Four? Chapter Three, where the major main characters all switched sexes? At the time, I thought it was revolutionary -- no major online comic had done such a thing at the time -- and my full intent was to, like writer Adam Cadre's descriptions of Groundhog Day and Memoirs of an Invisible Man, "take a brilliant premise and explore all of its nooks and crannies" (though I personally object to the phrase "nooks and crannies" being used in any context. Just sayin'.). I was so anxious to start it that I ended Chapter Two long, long before I originally intended to. After it started, I drew more in that brief period of time (August 2001, when I was working that horrible job at the local Perkins) than I've ever drawn in any similar amount of time since. The pictures were horrible, but through my eyes, they looked golden -- and it all culminated with a phone call to the main character's mother, stating in no uncertain terms that, yes, she finally had a daughter now.
After I showed it off to all my e-acquaintances, naturally, I found out that none of them happened to feel the same way about this issue as I did. Frightened by circumstances, I lost all motivation, ended the chapter quickly, took it off the Internet, and started up a new series when I moved to Albany, attempting to distance myself from the offending subject matter as much as possible. And So, That Ends The Role My Comics Have In This Story.
Fast-forwarding to December 2003, it was about four P.M. when I got back from work, sat down on my futon, where my boyfriend Stunner was playing Serious Sam on my Xbox, I took off my work uniform, and started crying for no apparent reason. Minutes later, Stunner would learn that it was because having a sexual experience for the first time only brought to light how uncomfortable I felt in my own body, and that I desperately wanted the circumstances I wrote about in 2001 to happen to me in real life; that I'd been silently praying (to no one in particular) that they would every night since I came up with them (which was in late 2000, if I remember correctly). He's been nothing but supportive ever since; when he initially suggested that I transition, I immediately dismissed the process as "only for people with debilitating mid-life crises". To his credit, he was even supportive of me then.
I eventually began educating myself on my own about transgender issues and the process of transitioning in September of 2004, found out about the mechanics of transsexual hormone therapy, and practically slammed my finger down on the part of the page where it says "estrogen therapy" and shouted "Sign Me the Fuck Up." I've been seeing therapists ever since then, and I'd actually be well into the process if finding a therapist qualified to prescribe hormones were at all easier than sailing out into the Persian Gulf and catching a fish made of gold. (I had two social workers -- Paul from earlier and Stunner's mother Linda -- at my back, for God's sake, and I still couldn't find any. Not even in the New Orleans area! Can you believe it?)
So. Why am I telling you this now, then? Well, it's kind of shameful. Are you up for it?
You see, if it weren't for my new therapist, I wouldn't be writing you this letter at all. I'd have waited for after I had finished the first semester of a part-time education at SUNY with a 3.0-plus grade point average, then given you the rundown after that, but I intend to start myself on hormones before then, and this guy says that I should give both of you the opportunity to -- and I hate this phrase, because it just doesn't sound appropriate -- "say goodbye before you say hello." It's not like he's forcing me to do this, but I think he has a point, and I guess the time has finally come.
Zach Braff says -- well, it was in an episode of "Scrubs", so it was probably just a writer for NBC -- that it's difficult to make a message stick if you only have old words to work with, but I can't stress this enough:
I am extremely frightened of both of you.
I feel like I've lost your respect years ago, and this is only making it worse.
I don't want either of you to think that I'm throwing my life away. My plans for the future include lots of education and a hearty office career (the former of which will begin just after I obtain state residency), but I have to start on this first.
I don't want you to think that I'm in the rebellious "self-definition" portion of early-twenties life, and I don't know what I'm doing.
Just because I said I was attracted to men in early 2003 and I'm writing you this letter now doesn't mean I'm going to be a mass-murdering cultist in early 2009. This is a Progressive Move, Not a Lateral One.
I don't want you to treat me any differently until I tell you to. Save your epicene pronouns for someone who can stomach them.
I'm not a transvestite, I never have been, and I kind of have an advanced sense of shame, so I won't be until I can be absolutely sure that I can look the part. This will, more than likely, be several years from now, so you don't have to worry about any surprising pictures anytime soon.
I'm going to end up doing this with or without your support, but both of you know that the easiest way to psychologically break someone is to have their parents reject them.
So, that's something to chew on.
The Sundance channel broadcast an eight-episode documentary series last fall, entitled "TransGeneration," which chronicled the life experiences of four transgendered college students (two female-to-males and two male-to-females). All four of the students were on rocky ground with their parents. T.J., a female-to-male from a Mediterranean country with a name I can't remember, ended up having to retransition and go back as a female, living in misery in order to keep her mother's respect. The white girl, Gabbie, used suicide as a bargaining chip to get them to pay for her transition (which I found to be absolutely despicable), and if you look at her parents, they're absoultely broken up over this, but they just want their kid to be happy.
So, I guess what I'm saying is, it's probably really hard for all three of us. I'll treat your feelings with respect if you do the same for me, alright?
One more thing: (My little brother) Ben figured me out in late '04, just as I was starting therapy sessions with a social worker. Unless he's told you both and kept it from me, he's had to keep it inside ever since, and I feel really bad about it. You should probably at least let him know I told you guys.
I'll e-mail Gary and Anthony later today (I need their addresses first, though), and I can answer all the questions you guys want. Love you both. Peace out.
After I wrote this, I sat in front of it for an hour, making corrections and just generally being nervous. I had to recite the lyrics to the rhyming portion of "We Are Burning Rangers", then click the mouse on the "Send" button as I spoke the word "set."
I hope they're understanding about this.