Coming Out: Telling My Parents

Revealing my transgender tendencies was a very hard thing for me to do, as it is for so many like me. I was aware of my feelings and the likely outcomes they would produce, throughout my teen years. By age 24, however, I was still the only person in the world who knew about those feelings and outcomes, except for a few random people I had anonymously traded instant messages with over the years. Coming out for me was as much a physical problem as it was mental; I just couldn’t bring myself to start the conversation.

On New Year’s Eve 2005, I was home alone, feeling incredibly burdened by my deep desire to transition from male to female. My siblings were all away from the house that night, either working or partying, as it was a holiday. My parents had gone to dinner, leaving me home alone with my troubled mind. I remember listening to “I’m Not OK,” by My Chemical Romance and rocking neurotically in my desk chair, while trying to beat myself into a confession of my feelings. Several times in recent weeks, I had started a letter, explaining my situation, but I’d always ripped it up and thrown it out before revealing my inner most secrets to anyone. That night, though, I was at my wit’s end and I was seriously contemplating coming out to my parents.

I knew instinctively that if I wrote the letter and left it out for them to find when they arrived home, there was a good chance that I’d cave in while waiting and fetch and destroy the letter before they arrived. There was only one thing to do, then. I typed the letter, sealed it in an envelope, left it on the kitchen counter, and got in my car and drove away. If I wasn’t there, I couldn’t stop them from finding it.

The letter itself was a simple, one page explanation of my troubles and the proposed solutions. Generally, I started with, “there’s something you need to know about me,” and moved to, “I think I have Gender Identity Disorder and need to seek treatment.” I always hide behind the clinical diagnosis, so I don’t have to admit to people subtler aspects of transsexualism, like, “I would love to grow breasts,” and “Panties are so much better than male underwear,” and “Isn’t that a cute handbag?” Men don’t say these things and, as long as I look like a man, it’s a little hard for me to say these things, too. After all, I have a brand to manage.

I left home, with the letter neatly placed in the center of the kitchen island, and went to the gas station. On my radio, I played some Oasis rather loudly, feeling both nervous and weird and strangely free of my past troubles. As I pumped gas, I looked around at the other customers, thinking about how none of them knew what I’d just done and planning where I could go to stay away from home long enough for my plan to unfold. I decided to head downtown, as the drive alone would take 40 minutes.

Once downtown, I did the only low cost thing I could think of: I bought a 50 cent fair and road the People Mover around the city. If you’ve never been to Detroit, the People Mover is an elevated monorail that circles the central business district endlessly. Anyway, I was riding the people mover and glancing at my phone, to check the time. My parents should be home soon, I thought. They’d find the letter and…

The phone rang. It was home calling. I hadn’t really thought this far. Should I answer? What would I say? How awkward would this conversation be? Was I ready? The truth was out, obviously, so I’d better be ready. I let it ring through and go to voicemail.

Immediately, I listened to the voicemail. It was my dad. He was very calm and told me that, no matter what was the matter, they would love and accept me and they just wanted me to come home and talk to them. It was a relief to my ears, but I started to feel badly. I felt badly that I hadn’t had the courage to face them directly and badly that they’d probably thought the worst when they came home and found the letter. Two minutes later, Dad called again. This time I answered. I told him I was fine and that I’d be home soon.

When I got home, my dad was sitting in his recliner in the living room, my mom already retired to her bedroom for the night. I came in slowly and made little eye contact, though I knew we had to talk. I sat adjacent my dad, on the small couch to his left, keeping my eyes on the tv as we started to talk. He wanted to know how long things had been bothering me; why I hadn’t mentioned it before; and what I planned to do about my transgender issues. It was all news to him; he’d never thought out transsexualism a day in his life and he certainly hadn’t considered that one of his children might be dealing with it. I’d always kept my feelings and thoughts to myself; I’d always hidden away while dressing or researching or doing whatever I was doing in pursuit of my little hobby. He told me he wanted to get educated about things, so he could understand what I was facing.

I went up stairs and found my mom, for a much shorter conversation. She pretty much reiterated what my dad had said; she loved me unconditionally and, as her child, she would do what she had to do to support me. Was this news to her? Yes. Did she know anything about it? No. We exchanged smiles and I went to bed. I was out to my parents and one step further on the road to womanhood.

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