My parents and brother should be getting their letters today and so I wanted to begin to post those letters here. As I’ve said before, I am using this blog to chronicle my transition, and this is a huge part of how it will go. In addition, if this letter can help someone else craft their own message to loved ones then I am happy to share it here. Names have been removed for privacy, and the journal entry I reference is the very first post on my home page, modified for greater brevity. I will post the personal sides to my Dad and brother tomorrow…the body for all three is almost identical and you can see it here. Hopefully they all respond as I expect them to and I will have something positive to write about next week, but either way I will write about honestly and from the heart.
Here is the letter as it was sent to my Mom:
I’ve thought long and hard about how I wanted to share the news I am about to share with you. I opted to write a letter because I have always been better with expressing what I wanted to say on paper, and because I want to give you the opportunity to process and think about what I am about to share with you. What I am about to tell you may not be easy for you to accept but it is real and it is happening. Dad and Brother have or will be getting similar letters that I have written just for them. I am sure you will probably talk to them before you talk to me, and that’s OK. I know you will have concerns, worries, and questions and I am here to answer those questions when you are ready to talk. This will be an emotional situation for all involved, and I am seriously exposing myself here like I will do for only my family.
By now you may be thinking I’m dying or some equally bad shit is happening, and I don’t want to draw out the tension any further, and so I will simply cut to the chase. Over the past year I’ve been examining so much of who I am. Part of it had to do with Daughter’s coming out and a big part of it had to do with something medically that was discovered about me. Let me say right now…I am not dying, but mentally I was heading towards self-harm if I didn’t face certain truths about myself.
I want to begin with a quick biology lesson. Everyone pretty much accepts that males are born with 46XY chromosomes and females are born with 46XX chromosomes. This is pretty basic, but I found out I am not basic. Doctors are pretty certain I was born with 46XY and 46XX chromosomes which makes me what is known as chimera intersex. They know this because I have both XY and XX blood cells in my body, and that is typically the only way this can happen. Unfortunately, this can only be confirmed in the womb or on an autopsy table, because it literally would mean my body is a patchwork of XY and XX on the inside. I could have a kidney that is XX and a kidney that is XY. The lining of my stomach could be XX, and the rest of my stomach could be XY. I could have muscles that are XX and muscles that are XY (doctors think my right side might be heavily influenced by XX chromosomes). Finally, parts of my brain and endocrine system could be XX as well.
How does this happen? Well, most likely scenario is that there were two eggs fertilized, one male and one female. As they descended right after conception the two zygotes fused together to become one. If it had happened a little after it did then conjoined twins result, but instead I got lucky and hit the sweet spot…so essentially I absorbed my female twin and we became one person.
I’m intersex, now what? Well, obviously there is more to it than that, and you may already have an idea of where I am going with this. If I was born today, then doctors could have run the test that would have told them this, and they could have shared with you that based upon the Surgeon General’s recommendations that I should be allowed to grow up and determine my gender at puberty, as there is no way of knowing how I will feel as I get older, and how my brain will identify. Unfortunately, I was born in 1974, before the test could be run, and when gender was simply decided by what could be seen with the eyes.
Without writing an autobiography connecting dots throughout my life (I’ve included a journal entry I wrote that discusses this to a point and am happy to talk about this if you need me to help you see those dots), suffice it to say I have known since the age of 5 that I was different. I never felt like I fit in anywhere, but I also knew that talking about some of the feelings I had wouldn’t fly, and so I pushed them down and tried to be more like dad, be more like my friends, and simply keep so much to myself. I wasn’t happy with myself as a child. I know you can remember issues I had and much of those were tied to how I felt. These feelings never went away, I just learned how to hide them better, and when you thought they might be for one reason, well, I just let you assume rather than tell you the truth.
As I got older I was both attracted to girls and jealous of what they had that I did not…on so many levels. I sucked it up, and pushed on. I would often find myself saying things like “If I was a girl…” always rationalizing that I could never be, and that I just had to make the best of what I had. This would continue, the pattern of longing and denial until last year. Daughter’s coming out made me face my past as I accepted that I could no longer run. Coupled with finding out I was intersex these two things basically caused me to have a nervous breakdown this past summer.
Awareness of who I was, and internalized shame and self-hate had me verbally lashing out at Wife and the kids all summer, to the point that she was within weeks of taking the kids and leaving me, and I had no clue. Finally, I accepted that I am intersex and also choose to identify as transgender. Once I accepted this I talked with Wife and explained that I needed to get therapy. I started therapy in August, and in October I also started hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to begin a transition to change my body from male to female. Wife knows and accepts that I have to do this, and we have also told the kids. At this time, things have calmed down and things are better than they have been in a long time within the family. As for Wife and I, only time will tell, but she has been nothing short of amazing in her support, and knows that if I didn’t do this I would end up dead before 50. I can also tell you that for the first time in my life, my brain feels calm and relaxed. It feels “right.”
I am sure by now you’re looking at this saying “What the fuck?” and probably stunned or questioning how this is possible, or if I’ve lost my mind, or any number of scenarios. All I can say is that this is 100% real, and it isn’t going away. However, much thought has gone into the process of my transition to do it in the most responsible way possible. The next time you see me I will not be in makeup and a dress. HRT takes time to make changes and some have started, but if you were to see me right now, I don’t look any different. For all involved, including myself, I am making a slow transition, meaning that I don’t anticipate major changes to how I live for at least 1.5 to 2 years, but physical changes could speed up or slow that timetable down. My plan is to have a first round of surgeries before I’d go full time, and typically good surgeons want you to be on HRT for 1-2 years before they would even do surgery.
As for name and pronouns…I am good with the current ones for now. I don’t expect people to call me she if I’m still out as a man in most ways. I’m sure there will come a time when I want that to change, but for now I am ok. When that time comes I will let you know, and we can deal with it then.
Now for my personal note to you:
I’ve been calling you less than I usually do, because it has been so hard not to tell you, and when I don’t I feel like I’m lying to you. I have this huge thing going on and I’m not sharing it with the biggest cheerleader I’ve ever had. Growing up I always felt like I was closer to you than dad. That isn’t to say I loved you more, but that I identified with you more than him, regardless of how hard I tried to identify and be like him. I had similar interests to you, was able to talk to you more easily, and I wanted desperately to be more like you, but I also knew I wasn’t, and most of my childhood believed that I could never be, so what was the point in wishing for something I could never have.
I did try on your clothes/cross dress up until a certain age. I started to do this in 3rd grade. I can still remember the first time I did it. I’m sorry for that invasion of your privacy, and I can’t tell you why I did it the first time, but once I started I couldn’t stop until I got too big, and then I stopped because of a couple incidents where I did get caught by both you and dad.
I don’t want to rehash the past, or play the “what if?” game. We talked in September about what would you have done if you and dad had to deal with this in the early 80s, and how you wouldn’t have known what to do. Nobody would have. It’s not like I ever said anything, and I don’t think there is any way you could have known. I also don’t want you and dad to beat yourselves up over the fact that it took me until my forties to come out. This isn’t on either of you, or anything you did or didn’t do. It just is, and I wasn’t able to put words to it until recently.
I think you know how hard this is for me to tell you, and I hope you can still love me, and that you will still want to be a part of my life, but I also must accept as I write this that there is the chance that I could be completely wrong, and so I partly write and send a letter to protect myself. Next to Wife, there are three people in the world that have the power to lift me up and the power to destroy me. You, Dad, and Brother are those three people. As for the rest, I couldn’t give two shits what they think. I’m past worrying about pleasing others, or trying to be what I think they want me to be.
When you decide to pick up the phone and call me I want you to remember the following things as they are important to me. Please do not call me in disbelief, anger, or the notion that you can get me to change my mind, or that this is a joke, or that it’s a phase, or that I’ve lost my mind. Those things are non-starters for me. Also, please don’t tell me that I’m going to fast…I’m 43 now, and have known I was different since 5…there is no such thing as too fast from where I stand.
So what can we talk about? You can ask me questions, about the past, about me currently, or about the future. You can ask me how I’m doing. You can give me your love and support. You can simply talk to me like you always have. I’m still the same person on the inside, except I no longer feel burdened by having to hide things in my private life.
If I don’t hear from you, then I will know you can’t accept it yet, or you have anger and other issues to work through, and that is ok. I will have to accept that, learn to deal with it, and live my life, because I can’t go backwards.
Please help Dad and Brother to understand if they need it. You are my mom, and I think of everyone you may accept it faster than they do. I can’t imagine a world where you would give up on me, or Dad for that matter, even if this is one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to deal with as parents. Dad can’t talk to me and ask questions, but he can email me or text me if he needs to, and I will tell him that. I know you guys will be worried and scared for me, and as my parents I would expect nothing else. I am scared and worried for myself at times, but I also know that I don’t have a choice in this…for the first time I understand why someone might want to kill themselves over this, because I know the circumstances where I would do so, and it is a sobering realization.
Finally, I want you to know that I will be ok, and that I know what I am doing, as much as anyone can. I’m actually looking forward to what the future brings…for the first time in my life. I hope that you will be part of that future, and I hope to hear from you soon.
I love you,