I don’t know how others transition, I think that we all must find our own path. I have come out to my entire family now. This Monday, I finally came out to my In-laws. They live in the next state and I wanted to do this now in case there were problems or acceptance issues. I wanted to give them time to deal with it, I didn’t want it to affect this year’s holidays for our children. I worried over the “right” way to come out to them, the words to use, how much I should go into it and should I do it over the phone, in person or in a letter? It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of things and never actually do it. I was also worried that because almost all my family and friends not only accepted who I was, they celebrated it, that this would be the time in which I would encounter a brick wall. Not because of who they are, these are good people that I love and am happy to have them as family, but because my fears often shout down my better angels.
I decided to do it through FB Messenger, I found that this gave people time to re-read and respond. I wrote my Mother-in-Law, I knew she was home and could let my Father-in-Law read it as well. Here is the letter in its entirety:
I didn’t really want to do this through messenger, but I think that perhaps it will give you time to digest this information. So here is what I need to tell you:
I am transgender. I have always been, I knew when I was very little. I would lie on my bed at night, wishing and wishing that I would wake up as a “real” girl. I was extremely afraid of my Dad, so I learned to hide who I was. I went into the military trying to ignore who I was, hoping it would go away. I tried to be extra aggressive and “manly” to try to deny it. I didn’t have a word for what I was, I didn’t know about the term “transgender” until I was in my 30’s. I just knew that I was a woman. I had a confusing childhood, more confusing high school years and then into young adult I had suppressed it hoping it would go away. At the time I thought perhaps I was a transvestite. It was the only term I knew but I was aware that it wasn’t a correct term. It wasn’t about wanting to wear female clothes as a man; I was female and didn’t know what to do about it.
So, I have been “out” at home for three years now. (I’m not out at work) For the first year I was out, I went to a therapist just to make sure I was doing the right things, that I was handling things the right way. I went there most times as me (Beth) and not as the mask I usually wear. Michelle knew before we got married, I didn’t want to hide from her and I wanted her to be able to walk away if she couldn’t understand. This was at a time in which Martin had just come out, I know that it’s odd that there are two transgender people in a home and I was very surprised when Martin came out to us. I lost my nerve when he came out and it took me another year to work up the courage again. I told Rose during the time I was going to therapy. She took it hard for a day, but she knows I am still her parent and love her deeply. So, I told them all my biggest secret, the one I have held to my chest for my entire life. I have never trusted anyone like I have trusted my family. I was going to tell Mom, but then the cancer got worse; I was not going to put a burden on her, cause her any kind of pain or worry. So, now I am putting that trust in you. I don’t expect you to be happy about this, it’s new information to you and probably somewhat a surprise. I hope that eventually you will be happy about it or at least tolerant of it. Please don’t be angry at Michelle and the kids, they were letting me choose when to be ready to tell you. I told my friends & a few people that I used to work with, they are completely supportive and have been nothing but great and loving, Eventually I will come out to work, but not before I know I will be able to keep the job. Michell and I are fine and our marriage is strong. I love you both and really hope that my putting the truth out there doesn’t change anything between us, or at least doesn’t change much.
I understand if you have questions and if you want to ask you can. I am an open book for you at this point. Yes, Michelle told Alex to say he lied about me, she was angry at him for outing me, it wasn’t right and I was angry as well. I wanted to tell you when I was ready, and not just throwing it out there without regard to your feelings. I wanted to tell you in person or on the phone, but I find that I am able to get everything out without stumbling, looking for the words and it also gives you some time to absorb the information. The only thing that has changed in this, the one single thing is that you now know I am a woman. I am still your daughters partner, I am still a great parent (I think I am) to our kids, and I still love you both like my own parents. I am going to send you a photo, I find that for most it helps to have a photo, though I never heard from my brother, Scott afterwards, so perhaps not everyone is helped.
My Mother-in-Laws reply, which I’m not going to post but I will paraphrase, was that she loves me, that she knows I love the children and my wife, she knows I am a good person and it doesn’t matter if I am male or female. She said it better than I did, it made me cry. On my Father-in-laws text, he only had one question… Will I still make beef jerky? Lol. (I make really hot beef jerky for the family each Christmas) One made me cry, happily and the other made me laugh. I am good with that kind of response.
I also wanted to tell my Sister-in-Law, I also sent her a FB Messenger letter. Here it is with only a slight redaction for privacy:
First, I want to tell you that I am sorry that circumstances confused what Alex told you about me. Michelle was angry at Alex for outing me before I was ready. And while I was alright with coming out right then, I hadn’t thought about what I wanted to say to your mom and dad, so truthfully, I wasn’t actually ready. Alex was asked to lie about what he said, but it wasn’t a lie just not cool outing someone.
Yes, I am a transwoman. I have always been female, since I was a child I knew. I didn’t know the word for it, “transgender” wasn’t something I had ever heard until about 15 years ago. I spent a good part of my childhood and early adult life trying to not only figure out what it meant but trying to hide it, trying to put a mask over it. I joined the military, did sports, hunting, activities trying to hide or push down who I was. I was miserable.
I told Michelle I was transgender before we got married, I wanted her to know the one secret about me that not another living soul on the planet knew. I wanted her to have the option to walk away if it was too much for her. I told Alex, Martin and Rose, in that order later. Rose took it pretty well, she was the only one who had questions. She was upset for a couple of days, but I explained to her the only information she has now that she didn’t have before was now she knows what gender I am. I didn’t ask Rose to lie for me, I told her that if she were asked she has my permission to tell the truth. That was three years ago. Today, I am telling your Mom and Dad, and I am now telling you.
Take your time with this, if you have questions don’t hesitate to ask. As I did with my side of the family and with my friends, I will also send you a pic of me, Elizabeth (Beth)
She responded so sweetly and so supportive! I couldn’t ask for better people to come out to, it’s like fate or something. I am gushing but I know that I am very lucky and happen to be surrounded by very good people who have nothing but love in their hearts.
You will notice in both letters that I mention Alex and his accidental (drunken) outing of me. I have of course forgiven him, I did the moment he did it. But I wanted them to know that it wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own for their being kept in the dark.
I have also gone through my masks FB page and selected friends from there that I would like to move to my actual FB page. I am giving them the option, if I don’t hear from them, no harm no foul. If they would like to continue to be friends, then they can send me a Messenger and I will invite them. There weren’t many on there I hadn’t already considered, but this ends the purge of my masks FB page.
I hope that the letters above help others to figure out what they want to say. I have also found that including a photo can sometimes help them to “see” you. It’s not about trying to be pretty, it’s about letting them try to see you, once the mask falls away.
It feels as if events are starting to come together and that my transition is starting to accelerate. I am looking forward to the changes, I am looking forward to things like FINALLY going to the apple festival with my family as ME!! I have a laser removal (for my face and neck) appointment next week, it took me a while to find a place that was close by that also had reasonable rates. And by the start of summer, I am planning on being on HRT. Our diet, which is really not a diet, just eating good healthy food, has brought me down 10 lbs in the last two weeks and I am starting on the treadmill today. Things are coming together, it just takes time.
I was telling a friend of mine, Shannon, that until very recently, I didn’t know that happiness was something you could carry with you. Before, what I thought was happiness was always just moments that fell away into the blackness of a void. Now, I understand that it can be carried with you and nurtured and it can actually grow! Who knew that? I didn’t know that. Now that I know this, I plan on breaking off bits of it, letting it grow and give them to others.