In an effort to help offer some resources
to people, I've decided to post the letter I wrote to my parents when coming out to them as transsexual
. I'm adding this in case someone might find it useful - I've had a few people who have read it over tell me it's a good letter. And my parents took it really well - I know that's not due only to the letter, but it sure can't help.
I have made a few minor edits just to make a few parts a little more generic/remove personal information. This is also the second version of the letter. The first version was written for telling my father, and in talking to him after he read the letter I managed to find some areas of confusion, of lack of clarity, which resulted in my making changes.
If anyone wants to use this letter as a guide to coming out, whether as a basic framework for coming out as gay/lesbian/bisexual, or use a bit more for coming out as transgendered, well, go right ahead. That's what it is here for. A little note to let me know you are doing so would be appreciated, but not necessary.
After the letter, I'll describe how I presented it to my parents, and how they reacted...
For a long time I've had various feelings inside me that I didn't quite understand, and had a hard time coping with. Most of my life this has been going on, at least as far back as I can remember. Things floating around inside, things that I knew weren't "normal," but I wasn't sure what they were, or what to do about them.
Three years ago, I started seeing a psychologist. I was experiencing depression at the time, and I was thinking it might be related to these feelings. She helped me through the depression, and I realized I had dealt with it on and off for a long time. This was done by starting to discuss these feelings, and what they meant. For the first time in my life I actually started to understand myself, what I wanted, what I needed to do.
You see, those feelings I had, and never quite pieced together into a whole, have a name. It's known as gender identity disorder, or gender dysphoria. What it means is that there's a conflict, a difference with how I feel in my mind, and what my body is. That while I was born male, while I lived all this time as male, and had managed to almost convince myself that's what I was, that I really didn't feel that way inside. That my mind was more female than male.
It may seem odd to you. In fact, it was odd to me at first, and very disorienting. All of a sudden I was having trouble understanding who I was anymore. But we continued discussing it.
The options for resolving this internal conflict were few. What I had to do was to get my mind and body to agree on who I was. However, the mind isn't flexible in this situation. They've tried with people before to get them to change their mental image of themselves to fit the body, and it's failed time after time. I don't think there's one single instance of this being successful.
Which leaves changing things the other way. Changing the body to agree with the mind. And while I realized it wouldn't be easy, I knew it was the right thing to do, and I liked the idea. So I started with simple things. Growing my hair, getting my ears pierced, painting my nails, and other little things. All very minor, but they started to have a major effect on my self-image and my self-confidence. I began to actually start to like the person I saw in the mirror, for once in my life. I began to feel better about myself.
In that time, as I started to understand myself, my feelings, I've started to become happier with myself then I ever have before. I've realized who I am, what I want, and what I need. And to take care of these things, to become comfortable with myself, to become truly happy with myself, I need to become a different person.
Mom, I am transsexual. I'm sure it's hard for you to hear, just as it's hard for me to say. But it's who I am, it's something I cannot change, even though I would if I could.
I know this has to be a shock to you. I don't know how much of one - I don't know if there were things you noticed about me that suddenly make sense, or if it seems totally out of the blue and unexpected. I've had doubts about it on and off this whole time, but the one thing that I always remember when I have them is that this is something I have to do to be happy with myself. I am already happier then I have ever been. If there is anything that indicates that what I am doing is the right thing, that is it.
I'm sorry I didn't tell you this earlier. I wanted to, but I was scared. Scared of how you would react, of how you would take it, of how it would affect our relationship. But I can't put it off any longer. It's become harder to keep it hidden, to keep it a secret from you, than to face up to telling you. And I've reached the point where I'm ready to take big steps forward in this, and I want to do so openly, to share how happy I am becoming with you.
I want to make it clear to you that is in no way your fault, or anyone else's fault for that matter. Nobody made me like this, and nobody could have done anything to prevent it. It just happened to be how I am. Please don't feel guilty, or blame anyone or anything.
(My SO) has known about this from about the time I began to understand it myself. She has chosen to deal with it, stay with me, and try to be supportive and helpful. And she has - I doubt I would be doing as well without her. We have been working through this together, and both become better people in the process.
I want to make it clear where this is going with me, so there is no confusion about what is going on. You may not want to know about this yet, but I think it needs to be made clear. I have already been on hormone therapy for a couple years. This has been with the approval of my psychologist, and under the care of a knowledgeable and experienced doctor. I am undergoing laser hair removal for permanent removal of my facial hair. The idea of moving, which I have mentioned previously, well, part of the reason I have been wanting to do that is to start a new life, as a new person. So it will be necessary for me to legally change my name, and soon. And yes, sometime down the road a couple years, I do wish to have sex reassignment surgery.
I've attached a printout of a small web site to this, and I'd like you to read it. It might help you understand a little more. Please don't feel afraid to talk to me about this or to ask me questions. If you need time right now to deal with this before talking, please, let us know, and we'll leave. I want to do this in whatever is the best way for you.
I love you, mom.
Note: The web site I referred to was a page from the PFLAG web site, I believe it was entitled "10 misunderstandings about transsexuality" or something to that effect. I had it there as a supplement, another source to make sure they understood a little more, and it also explained that it wasn't their fault (I wanted to make that very clear to them).
As far as presenting the letter to my parents... I made sure to do that in person. With the importance of telling them, I knew I had to be there. When I was ready to do it, I told them that I had something important that I needed to tell them. I was doing it with a letter because I was afraid I would get too nervous, and it was very important to me that everything that I wanted to say got said. That I didn't want to forget anything, and that actually sitting there and telling them would probably cause me to forget something.
I told them to read the letter, in its entirety, and that I was going to go to another room. After they were done with the letter, to come and get me when they were ready - and to talk first if need be (my sister was there with both my mom and my dad - she found out at the same time as my dad, and was there when I told my mom).
With my dad and sister, I was upstairs in the second bedroom, curled in a little ball on the futon. I heard them talking, though I didn't know what they were saying, and heard my dad walk out on the balcony for a while (smoking out there, I'm sure). About 25-30 minutes later, he came up, told me he loved me, and gave me a big hug. He also told me that my sister was accepting it, just wasn't ready to talk about it yet. (She still hasn't - seven months later) I talked with my dad some, and realized he was pretty much ok.
With my mom, I gave her the letter and went into a spare bedroom in her house. She read the letter, then I heard her say to my sister that she still loved me - and my sister told my mom to tell me personally. She called for me to come out, gave me a big hug, and with a couple tears in her eyes made it clear things were going to be just fine. (For her, the toughest part was trying to imagine what I went through growing up)
While the way I did things might not be best for everyone, I will say that I worked great for me, and might for some others out there also.