Dear [FORMER FNAME],

We’re just gonna say this as straightforward as we can – we’ll never think of you or call you anything other than [Former FNAME], [Former FNickname]! Your news about legally changing your name is heartbreaking! We don’t understand why you’re doing this but it deeply hurts just the same.
Are you saying you don’t want to have a relationship with us anymore? Can’t help but wonder what we did wrong as parents that could have caused this?
Did you realize that now that you’ve changed your name all the documents that we’ve created that use your old legal name are void?
We need to find some middle ground here but it’s not gonna be your name being changed! We need to keep talking anyway we can. Love, Mom and Dad

Welcome back, faithful readers. The above letter arrived at my house yesterday, along with the certified copy of my birth certificate I order, and kicked me out of blog writing complacency. As many of you may know, I’m a perfectionists about my blog/ drafts, but I recently realized that none of that matters when I’m not publishing at all.

Just over a month ago now, I legally changed my name. I spent gobs of time freaking out about how the proceedings would go and asked my brother, Jack, to come with me. That valiant man broke out of hangover sleep to meet me at the courthouse at 8.15am and sit with me while the rest of Lexington arbitrated their estates. Yawn. A young woman was called before me to change her name and the ability to watch her interaction with the Judge soothed my nerves a thousand times over. Jack asked me if he could object if the Judge declined my request. That guy. I was called to the stand by my last name and an amazing thing happened – the only question I was asked was to confirm how I wanted my new legal name to be read. This unsuspecting ally let my old legal name forever fade away, sealing the past and sending me into my chosen future. Giddy, the brothers queer hugged and retired from the courtroom. The price? $14. The rest of the day featured a celebration and my gracious girlfriend, Leslie, caring for he who celebrated slightly too hard.

Since that day, I have slowly processed the name change with the rest of the world. My social security card was the first to arrive in its newly minted glory. My parents claimed they lost my birth certificate so I had to order a new one to get my license. I just got my license and new debit card yesterday. It shouldn’t have taken me so long to apply for my new license, but the poetic justice of getting it yesterday was well worth the wait. It was even a perfect hair day. Thanks, universe.

The above letter upsets me in principle but confirms more than it confuses. In my young life, I have developed the ability to sense projecting when I see it. Asking me if I no longer want a relationship with my parents exposes their feelings to me more than they could realize. Leslie suggested I reveal to them how their ultimatums are hurting me instead of erecting a wall. I’m glad other people notice when I act like my father. It occurred to me recently, in light of the rash of LGBT youth suicides, that I am fortunate I did not come out in high school. God only knows.

Is this letter a set back? No. Is it upsetting? In some ways. In some ways, I am frustrated that this came out after I decided not to drop my family name in my name change. I am angry that I will be establishing myself as a professional under the family name of people that have made no effort to accept or understand the identity of their only child. Do I want sympathy? I want only a pledge from you, readers, that you will never behave in this way to someone you love.

Thinking about the love and support i have here in lexington, in the cities of my youth that have re-found me, in the future to come, i am comforted. For those who chose not to love others as they themselves wish to be love? Well, in so many words, it is their loss.

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Comments
4 Responses to “Dear [FORMER FNAME],”
  1. ondine says:

    I think you’re really Brave Eli. Hang in there friend. xo Ondine

  2. I’m not sure how I would have handled this kind of behavior from my parents, but you’re so incredibly strong and I hope people in situations like yours look to you for precedent. xx

  3. Katie Cahill says:

    I too think you’re extremely brave!!! Just reading this makes me want to drive over to their house and SHAKE THEM (don’t worry, I won’t, though it’s actually feasible). My mom ran into your mom at the grocery store sometime within the past two-ish months, and unsurprisingly, your mom said nothing about your transman journey (of which my own mother had already been made aware, though she made no indication of such), BUT your mom did brag about you graduating, your job(s), etc. I know it’s not enough and you deserve so much more acceptance, but hey, they are proud of your accomplishments, man. I hope and pray that in time they realize that it’s okay to be proud of ALL of you.

  4. J2 says:

    Oh my dear friend. I am so sorry. It makes me so upset that they make it all about them! They think of it as you “rebelling” against them. So self centered! What did THEY do wrong, why are you doing this to THEM. they want to find a middle ground, but only one that negates something you’ve worked so hard for!

    I wish your parents were supportive of you for who you are! I’m so glad to know that you have a strongly supportive and loving Chosen Family. That is a wonderful thing. 🙂

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