As I was re-reading a well written and heartfelt thread from a good friend on Facebook, it inspired me to write this. In her thread she posted texts of the letter where she was trying to find the correct words to explain her transition to her ailing father. As a trans woman, I have agonize over just the right wording myself when I wrote my coming out letters and emails to the only family members that I have left. As I was reading her thread, in my minds eye I could see her sitting at a kitchen table with pen and paper trying to find the right words to put down. Seeing tears rolling down her cheeks as she struggled for just the right words to use to convey her feelings to her father. All the while knowing that these may be the last words that he hears from his now deceased son and to explain how that son has risen to be his beautiful daughter.
As some people would say that I don’t have to go through this hell or the stress of knowing whether my parents would except my transition because both my parents are deceased. My mother passed when I was a teenager and my father passed eight years later of a broken heart. As my father was a man’s man and my mother was very loving, kind hearted and excepting, I know in my heart that she would have only wanted me to be happy and to be secure in myself being. I’m not sure whether she would’ve completely understood but as long as I was happy, she would’ve been happy for me. She would’ve been apprehensive and scared for me as she would’ve seen what transgender people are put through on a daily basis and would’ve wished me only the best of happiness.
In 1980 I was befriended by a man that would turn out to be my best friend up until he and his wife were killed in a fatal head on car crash in 2015. Even after my marriage to a genetic woman in 1995, we stayed in contact with each other, speaking to each other at least three times a week. Over the years before my marriage he and I experienced a lot of things together. Places, people, fine art, music, cuisine and more importantly feelings, we’re all the things this man showed me or brought out in me. Today I can contribute a lot of my attitude of myself and attitudes toward other people to all the hours that we spent talking together and to my mother that planted the seeds that he nurtured to grow. He once told me that a good person was always inside of me and that he just wanted to fix the person that hated the world and was trying to destroy his life so that that good person could come out. Even in the early 90s I had spoken to him about transitioning. At that time the political climate was much different then than it is today, so we decided to put it back in the closet and just kept it to ourselves.
In November of 2011 my wife of 17 years passed away from metastatic breast cancer. When we met I was drag performer at some of the gay clubs around town. She knew what I was doing when we got married and after a little over three months of marriage, she asked me to put that away and gave me the ultimatum, either continue on that path or to stay married. Because I was in love with the idea of being married and having a family, I put that part of me in a closet, added the mothballs and closed the door. In the three years that I took care of my wife, she brought up in conversations of what I was to do after she was gone and what I was to do about my transitioning. Most the time the conversation direction was changed by me because I didn’t want to think about it or even talk about it. I wanted to focus on the tasks at hand and to take care of her and make her as comfortable as possible. Finally she pushed the issue in her last week on this earth. She didn’t let me divert the conversation this time and told me that she was releasing me from the promise that I had made many years before. After approximately eight months after her death, I reopened that closet that I had closed so many years before. It took years of soul-searching and trying to get myself together after the grief of losing a wife and a best friend that I started my transition in July of 2016. In retrospect, the loves of my life now tell me that I’m happier than I’ve ever been and that I seem to be more outgoing.
When I hear of trans people struggling with what to tell their parents or loved ones of their transition, it takes me back to all the people that I’ve lost and to me wondering how they would’ve reacted to knowing of my transition. I guess in some ways that I am jealous that there is some kind of finality of knowing the answer of how past love ones would have reacted either in the positive or negative aspect of my transition.
So, like the woman I spoke about above, writing what could possibly be her hardest letter that she would ever have to write to someone that she dearly loved, it’s taken me hours to write this.