LETTER TO FAMILY MEMBERS OF GENDER NON-CONFORMING PEOPLE

To properly frame this letter, I want to make clear that it isn’t directed at any one family member, nor is it even directed at my family in particular. It is a letter that addresses actual experiences from many transgender people who have become close to me and shared those experiences. It’s composite in nature and simply expresses the importance of family in our lives.

{I want to pause for a moment of full disclosure – I am ordinarily patient and understanding and write from a place of compassion. I am doing so now as best I can but I am also very hurt and angry as someone close to me is right now experiencing a very cruel form of “Conditional” love and it makes me sick to my stomach. I feel helpless, so I write having already shed so many tears Onward…}

Dear beloved family member –

Webster’s defines the word “Un-Conditional” as:

not limited in any way : complete and absolute

1

:  not conditional or limited :  absolute, unqualified <unconditional surrender> <unconditional love>

So let’s start there shall we? If you are a parent, do you love your children un-conditionally? Before you answer with the obligatory “yes” and move on, let me ask you how you would feel if your first-born male child told you that they felt they were really female and wanted to take the steps needed to help them present this way all the time. What is your reaction?

You had hopes and dreams for your son. In a blink, those are gone. Can you replace them with different hopes and dreams for your new daughter? Can you love her as you did him? Would you?

Or would you become your child’s first bully?

Sadly, far too many parents would hide behind the banner of love while acting like frightened bigots and turning their own children out on the street or shunning them from family gatherings or forcing them to see reparative therapists. All of these reactions are a form of abuse, not love.

Would you wrap that child in a hug and tell them you love them no matter what? Would you ensure they get the help they need even if this potentially meant medical procedures that are irreversible? Would you? If so, thank you.

Think back to what nearly every parent says when they are in the delivery room and their child is being born – the first question asked of the doctor and primary concern is: “Is my baby healthy?”  Not, “What gender is it? Because if it’s not a boy then…forget it.” Can you imagine saying that? Or, “sure hope she doesn’t become a lesbian!”

No loving parent would every say those things. We love our kids no matter what…right? Then why is it still such an emotionally charged issue when your child comes to you and tells you their deepest darkest secret that torments them day and night without end hoping you can help, or at least try and understand, that you will accept them. “Mom, Dad, I think that I’m really a girl” Is that so awful?

There is another side to this.

I am one of the lucky ones. I have no idea what it is like to feel “normal.” (whatever that is)  I don’t know what it feels like to be perfectly happy with the assessment of your sex at birth. I was assigned male. I never “felt” male. I don’t know what that’s like.

I grew up in a time before there were resources for kids like me. We shut our mouths and got picked on. We survived. Every day of my life, I knew I was different and wondered what was wrong with me.

I love my family. I have 2 beautiful daughters that are grown and on their own and I have 3 precious grandchildren. I was married for 33 years and am now divorced…because of this, but even my ex still loves me and treats me with respect. My daughters embraced me right away after hearing that “dad” was becoming a woman. Without missing a beat my grandkids switched seamlessly to “Grandma Leslie.” I am lucky.

Think about your own mother or father for a moment. If they raised you, cared for you, loved you unconditionally and sacrificed for you into middle age and then came to you and told you that they had been tortured by something their entire life and kept quiet about it until they just couldn’t face another day…would you turn them away? Would you call them crazy? Would you be embarrassed to be seen with them? I pray that the answer is “no.” My hope is that you would be there for them as they were there for you and that you would love them just the same.

I have a dear friend who is my age and was in a similar circumstance with much different result.  Her son refuses to accept her gender transition and has written and said horrible things that no child should say to a parent. This “son” is trying to get her to submit to some ridiculous ceremony designed to cast out demons. Really?  Yes, really. He further selfishly is threatening to cut her out of family activities and denying her access to her beautiful grandchildren unless she gives up her transition and reverts back to male. He has demanded she sit with reparative therapists from “Focus On The Family” which she has, all in the name of keeping peace. 

But now, she is seriously considering giving up on transition and continuing to live a lie…as a man. She is considering caving to what amounts to extortion, manipulation and abuse from someone who does these reprehensible things in the name of “love.”

For family members, please know that I understand. I know this is difficult for you. Seeing someone you love change is difficult and it can make you uncomfortable or force you to examine parts of your psyche you’d rather not deal with. But I would also think seeing a loved one in pain – tormented from the inside by something they can’t help, didn’t create and would likely do anything not to have would inspire you to do anything within your power to help. So you reach out to them, tell them it’s OK that you will be there for them.

Because you love them.

Unconditionally.

For my dear friend, all I can say is that I love you and support you and hope you can find acceptance in the arms of your family. I can tell you with a very high degree of certainty that you may for the sake of your family, sacrifice yet again in what is becoming a one way street of giving on your end and selfishness and abuse on your son’s, but the dysphoria always wins. It will not give up, it will not go away. It sometimes takes lives. You are so beautiful and happy as you. I can see it clear as day. You can’t hide it. Being miserable around your family is too high a price. I wish you peace and will love you no matter what.

No conditions.

Sincerely,

Leslie

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2 Responses to LETTER TO FAMILY MEMBERS OF GENDER NON-CONFORMING PEOPLE

  1. Jackie says:

    At this time in life, I wish my husband would switch. Maybe, he’d be more sensitive to my emotional needs.

  2. Lesboi says:

    “Think back to what nearly every parent says when they are in the delivery room and their child is being born – the first question asked of the doctor and primary concern is: “Is my baby healthy?” Not, “What gender is it? Because if it’s not a boy then…forget it.” Can you imagine saying that? Or, “sure hope she doesn’t become a lesbian!””

    Wow, you are SO right here (and throughout your post too). This really hit me because it is EXACTLY what every parent says. It’s later on that they start to worry about their kid conforming to what society expects a daughter or son SHOULD be. They don’t want to be embarrassed by their kid.

    I’m enjoying reading your posts. Much of what you say I can very much relate to in my own life. While I am early in transition and also FTM, our ages are similar and I’m at a similar place in my life to where you were. One of the hardest parts of making my decision to move forward is the concern over losing everything I’ve worked my whole life to build. The cost is huge either way, of course. Thanks for sharing your journey.

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