Monday, February 6, 2012

My Coming Out Letter

This is the letter I emailed to my parents after getting some questions from them about why Facebook was using male pronouns on my profile. I had changed my gender but told Facebook to hide it, though it still changed my pronouns. I am posting this because I think I did a good job and want to share it with people.

 Mum and Dad:

In light of recent events regarding my  Facebook profile, I think it's time to be honest with you about something you're probably not going to want to hear.

Ever since I was a very young child, I felt like I was different from the other kids. I didn't like what they liked. I didn't want to dress up pretty or learn how to apply makeup or paint my fingernails. I thought I was just a tomboy, but then I realized that I didn't just feel like a tomboy - I felt like a boy. When I was in 6th grade, we were told to write about what the one thing we would change about ourselves. I wrote that I wanted to be a boy.  I was so ashamed then that I crossed it out and instead wrote that I wanted to be nicer to [brother] and [sister]. I thought I was the only one in the whole world that felt like that, and that loneliness, depression and frustration followed me through my middle school, high school and part of my college career. I couldn't tell anyone. I hurt myself a lot, from the time I was eleven until about two years ago. Sometimes I wanted to die because I felt so confused and hopeless. I never could put a name on those feelings, but something felt very, very wrong.

About a year ago, I attended a panel with [best friend] about the gender binary and how to be a transgender ally. As [speaker] (a transgender female-to-male) spoke, something clicked and I realized that this was me. All the experiences he talked about - feeling disconnected from your body, wanting to wear boys' clothes, being depressed and anxious all the time that you could never truly be the person you wanted to be - I could relate to my own experiences. I realized that I was a transgender male. Despite being born female, my brain is wired like a male brain. Knowing that I was transgender changed my life. I didn't feel like such a freak anymore. I didn't feel hopeless or depressed and I didn't want to die. I was truly happy, relieved for the first time in my life.

I've been gradually starting to socially transition and come out to my friends. Most of my close friends refer to me using male pronouns and use my preferred male name, which is Adam. This is also the name I use at my job at the [campus food place]. Everyone has been extremely accepting and respectful of my transition. [Sister] and [brother] also know about all this, and you should be proud of them because they have been so supportive and kind. I haven't decided exactly what path I'll take to physically transition. Not all trans people take gender-specific hormones, or  get chest or sexual reassignment surgery. I'm not sure what (if any) of that I will want to pursue. Right now I am in a transgender support group at school with a  handful of other trans kids and we talk about issues and support each other, as well as just generally socialize. It's nice to meet other kids like me and know that I'm not alone. I am also in counseling at [college]'s counseling center speaking with a therapist that specializes in gender therapy. I am really hopeful for my interview with [big tech company] because they are well-known as one of the most trans-friendly companies around, as well as [another big tech company] and most other tech companies.

I want you to know that there's nothing you guys did (or didn't do) that made me this way. I was born transgender, and doctors don't know exactly what causes it. I also want you to know that this doesn't change the person I am inside. I just want my outside to finally start lining up with what's inside.

This also isn't how I wanted you to find out. The Facebook thing was kind of an accident. It was supposed to just stop displaying at all. I know there's really no good time or place to come out to somebody about something like this. You guys both asking about my gender change on Facebook  just finally gave me the courage to tell you. I know you are probably not going to be okay with this at first. I know it's going to be a huge adjustment and probably a bit of a shock. I don't expect you to start calling me by my preferred name and pronouns right away. I just want to you love me all the same and support me in this, even if you don't necessarily agree with it. I'm happy now, and I want you to be happy for me. I love you.

Thank you,


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