One day they will make books of these letters (“they” of course being me :)

I wrote a response letter to my parents this week. I received their last letter in anger and frustration. Numerous re-tellings featured me painting them as vindictive and heartless. That was wrong, I now can see. I was hurting; it happens. Fortunately, I have insanely logical and patience people in my life that were willing to listen through that pain and help guide me to productively communicate my thoughts and feelings back to my parents. Their thoughts mostly challenged me to set an example of acceptance and love. It took hours of pouring through my mind and heart to arrive at the peace of mind from which I wrote this letter. Here’s to these beautiful people! Here’s the letter:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Thank you for the Kroger card, oil sprayer and draft blocker you sent me for Christmas. The Kroger card was easily one of the best gifts I have ever received as it gave me the freedom to make some neat dishes while I was staying with Lex last week (I have a winter root vegetables recipe that you absolutely have to try). I apologize for not sending much your way this holiday season; money is a little tight for the moment. A good deal of love and effort went into this card – consider it full of big holiday hugs.

On the subject of the winter holidays, I have realized that my absence at family Christmas is largely due to a misunderstanding in communication. I apologize for this. When we spoke before about my winter break plans, I did not commit to anything with you because I assumed you would not want to see me after receiving my ‘coming out’ letter. I did not seek clarification on your plans because of this and I found your going on a cruise to be a confirmation of my assumption. I wish I would have asked. Being alone on Christmas led me to realize all of this and while I had a nice quiet holiday to myself I wish I could have been with you. I resolve to better clarity in the future. I still do not know about my availability for January but I will let you know as soon as I do. I suppose it is reasonable to let my boss enjoy her break to some extent, no? 🙂

Part of the reason I assumed you would not want me to attend family Christmas this year is that I have always felt like you have kept my identity as a non-heterosexual (I use ‘queer’) person as a family secret. I understand that we have no idea how the extended family would react. React they certainly would and probably in both surprisingly positive and surprisingly negative ways. My past changes in appearance have not gone unnoticed by them and I am sure that would be the case now as well. I want to say that I acknowledge and validate your concerns about this. At some point, however, I would like them to know. I am just as concerned with having an honest relationship with them as I am with you.

Since my brain has been decompressing from finals I have been thinking about our relationship and I realize that I have not always been entirely fair to you. I want for you to accept me for who I am but I want this while not holding myself to the same standard of completely accepting you and your life experiences. It is easy for me to know how to accept people for being queer or transgender because I know and love many of these people. It is my understanding that you do not know many queer people (though I promise you know more than Robert and me – even if people have not said so specifically). It would be equally as difficult for me to identify with the life experience of someone who was raised in a religion with which I am not familiar in a country very different from my own. I say that I have not been fair to you because I have experienced great frustration over our differences that I had not taken the time to examine myself. I yearn for a love and acceptance from you that I have not shown you. Now that I see this I am working to change it.

I understand that it is hard for you to accept my identity as a transgender person. I could tell you all day long about how I know down to my bones that I do not experience gender like you do. I have written pages upon pages about this. The best way I can relate it to you is that I know I cannot identify with anything that society tells us makes a strong woman and have felt this way since I became aware of the concept. I feel like a strong transgender man. I hear your concerns about my age and my limited life experience. To date, I have successfully navigated many situations that were made difficult because of my identity and I am confident that I will continue to do so as my life changes and grows. I am fortunate to be surrounded by a community of friends that love and support me for who I am and I will always seek out this community wherever life takes me.

I wish you could see how being transgender is beautiful to me, how comfortable I feel in my skin with this knowledge of myself. Since I came out to myself, I feel a self-love that is unprecedented in my life and it shows in my relationships with others as well. As a humanist, someone who fundamentally believes in the power and love of humankind, I hold myself to love others as I love myself and to believe in the power and capacity for good. I want to show you that love that I show others and believe that you can find it in yourselves to wholly accept me as I am as I strive to wholly accept you. I know we both have work to do. I want to engage in conversation about what my transition means for me and to you. I want to connect you with resources when you are ready to read them (there’s a great book called the Transgendered Child). I sincerely just want us to keep talking through our ups and downs. No more missed holidays because of miscommunication and fearful assumptions. I look forward to talking soon.

Love,

Eli

 

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