bWell, telling people I’m trans is getting easier and easier. I told another lady at Slimming World – and showed her a couple of photos on my phone. It was as easy as saying “Ooooh, I’ve just got back from Greece – here’s a picture of me on the beach!” She was so positive and said I looked so happy. So why is it so hard to tell your parents?!
I’ve been mulling over whether or not to tell my parents for a long, long time now. After I decided I would, I then had to decide how. Because I knew it probably wouldn’t be as easy as telling a friend.
In the end, my sister came up with the idea of writing a letter. So that’s what I did a couple of weeks ago. I then showed it my sister and some friends, and we tweaked it to death, adding things and subtracting things.
I was rather pleased with the finished product – and I popped it in the post yesterday lunchtime. I remember the moment I posted it like it was yesterday, because it was.
It was pouring down with rain and there was a man in a green hooded waterproof walking towards me near the postbox. I glanced at the names and address on the envelope – my mum’s name first, girl power – and the rosy red first-class stamp.
And then I posted it into what sounded like an empty postbox. I wasn’t hesitant or anything – I knew it had to be done. This has been hanging over me for a while now, and making me feel anxious the past few days – while still feeling happy overall.
It was a postbox at a main post office, with plenty of collections throughout the day, and they only live eight miles away, so it should have landed on their doormat this morning.
I timed it like that on purpose – I knew they’d been back from their holiday for a few days and weren’t looking after my neices today. So, a nice, quiet day to read the letter, digest the bombshell and then ring me up to probably ask if I’m sure and if I’ve really thought it through, all the while calling me Andrew.
But it’s now almost 4pm and I’ve not heard anything from them. No phone call, no texts, no emails, no Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger messages. Which is all making me feel even more anxious.
My mum and sister are going out tonight, too, so I don’t really want my sister to cop any flack from my mum, who has been known to “go off on one” now and then over the years!
So that’s it really. No news – is that good news or bad news? I have no idea.
Anyway, here’s a copy of the letter just in case it helps anyone else coming out as trans to their mum and dad. I shall update the blog as and when I hear from my folks. If they’ve not disowned me.
June 8th, 2017
Dear Mum and Dad,
Please forgive me for not handwriting this letter – but I suspect I may have to make quite a few edits before I send it.
I’ll come straight to the point, and I’m going to keep this dead simple: I have something to tell you about my gender. Are you sitting down?!
I’m transgender. Now that little word can mean different things to different people – from crossdressing (transvestism) at one end of the scale to completely changing gender from male to female or vice versa (transsexualism) at the other.
I assume you must have suspected something due to my exploits at every fancy dress party I’ve ever been to in the past 30 years, not to mention many other tell-tale signs you’d need to be blind to miss.
Naturally, me being me, I’m not your typical transgender person. I’ve never felt like just a crossdresser – but I’ve never felt like a transsexual either. I’ve always felt somewhere in between the two, and I’ve always been perfectly happy with that.
I didn’t think there was an actual label for what I am until a couple of years ago, when I heard this term “non-binary”. In other words, neither male nor female – but somewhere in between.
Are you with me so far? Do you need a nice cup of tea?!
Like sexuality, gender is on a spectrum. So, with sexuality, most people are straight – they’re at one end of the spectrum. Some people are gay – they’re at the other end. And in between, you have people who are bisexual. So they’re neither one thing nor the other.
It’s the same with gender. Most people are either male, at one end of the spectrum, or female at the other. Then there are people like me who are in between – neither male nor female.
Non-binary people can see themselves as more traditionally male (transmasculine) or female (transfeminine). Others are 50/50. I’m definitely in the transfeminine camp.
So that’s all the theory for you! I know it’s a lot to take in, but I’ve tried to condense it all and make it simple. Hope that worked!
I’ve known I was transgender since I was about seven. I won’t go into too much detail but I’ve never been happy as a man (or boy, for that matter). Even before I was seven, something felt very wrong. That’s gender dysphoria for you.
Gender dysphoria – the distress felt when you identify with a gender different to the one assigned to you at birth. So that’s probably been behind the panic attacks and depression I’ve been suffering since I was about 20.
That’s not to say I’m unhappy altogether – or ever was. Apart from all the bullying, childhood was great, even if I didn’t feel anything like all the other boys. I have many happy memories of growing up. I’d just have given anything to be in the Brownies, with *Name of Sister*, rather than the Cubs!
So, after 43 years of life on this rock, I’ve decided that I’m going to live the rest of my life as a happy non-binary person instead of an unhappy man. In other words, I’m going to be how I want to be – not what society wants me to be. Life’s too short to be unhappy. We only get one, and the chances of there being an afterlife to be who we really want to be are fairly slim, let’s be honest.
I was referred to Nottingham Gender Clinic by my GP in September 2015 and finally had my first appointment on May 31st this year. There’s quite a waiting list! After three appointments, held over six months, I hope to begin taking estrogen.
So what will that mean going forward? Well, things will get a little curvier, skin will get a little softer and less hairy. Depending on the medication, my head hair could even return!
Will I be walking around in women’s clothes? Yes, absolutely. But then I’ve been doing that every day for several years, and you’ve probably not even noticed. My shoes, jeans, shirts, T-shirts, jumpers, coats, everything – they’re all women’s. It’s just that they’re fairly unisex. OK, maybe not the flowery trainers!
Will I be walking round in public in a dress and heels? When I first wrote this letter, I said no. However, since my appointment, I’ve been pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone – and to care less about what other people think.
Last night, I went for dinner with my friend Danielle to an Italian restaurant in the town where I live. I wore heels, a black skirt and white blouse. Makeup, wig, the works. And do you know what? I felt amazing – completely liberated and so full of happiness. I didn’t get a single funny look and, if anyone did realise I was trans, they certainly didn’t indicate that they did.
I won’t be presenting like that all the time – at least not initially. Most of my clothes are pretty androgynous. I’m too old now to go very curvy from the hormones – and the family genes mean there’s not gonna be an awful lot going on up top either! I’m fine with that, though.
So the physical changes will be subtle – but I wanted to tell you because I love you and I’d quite like you to know the real me instead of me having to hide my knickers and everything else whenever you come round (OK, maybe I didn’t do that last time!)
My name I’ll tweak to Andie. I’ve not really used Andrew since I was about 10 anyway, so I’ll just be changing the spelling from Andy to Andie. Maybe Neil to Nell. I like the names you gave me back in ’73 – I just want to tweak them, not drop them altogether as many other trans people do.
I know this is all a heck of a lot to take in – and I don’t expect you to understand it all at once. I’d just be grateful if you’d at least try to understand – and to realise how I feel and why I need to do what I’m doing. If you need some resources, ask away.
I’ve told some close friends – and I’ve told *Name of sister*. Everyone has been fantastic, not just seeing this as something to be tolerated – but as something to be celebrated. I truly have the best friends in the world. *Name of sister*, too! I wasn’t sure how she’d react, but it really was water off a duck’s back. She’s been amazing – really supportive and we’ve become closer than I ever thought we would be.
Please don’t feel bad that I’ve not told you before now. It’s just that telling your parents you’re transgender is about the hardest thing anyone who’s trans can do. I’ve read countless stories of parents completely disowning their children just because they’re trans. I obviously do not want that to happen! I hope the liberalism that you instilled in me when I was growing up – and for which I’ll always be eternally grateful – extends to your views about my gender.
I love you both very much and I want you to understand that not much is really going to change from your point of view. I’ll still be the same person, just more comfortable in my own skin – a little curvier and far, far happier.
Will I have surgery? Nope. Does this mean I’ll start fancying guys? Nope. Ew! Is there anything that you’ve done in my upbringing that’s made me transgender? Nope – it’s just the way I am, and I love it. I see this as being a massive positive – definitely not a negative. I hope you can, too.
I know you’ll have lots more questions – feel free to ask away! Just remember that this is a massive deal for me – and it’s not a decision I’ve taken lightly.