A year ago today, I told my mother the news. I came out to her as transgender. It wasn’t as easy as everyone else. For some reason, I just couldn’t seem to find my way to have this conversation. I had intended to tell her before Christmas…. and then before New Years… and well, it never happened. Not counting family events, I actually had to go to her house three times before I could get the words to come out.
She (and my step-father, via proxy) was the last of the family that I wanted to tell, face to face. I had worked my way through the other members, one-by-one, telling them the new reality of the boy/man/son they knew and loved. Thus far, it had gone pretty well. Everyone had been supportive. They even promised not to tell anyone else, until I had covered my bases. They couldn’t though…. because by the time I got to my mom, I think everyone on my dad’s side of the family knew. I started getting texts and FB messages from people who weren’t supposed to know.
I tried to prioritize the list of people I told, based on how I expected they’d react. I prepared for all of them to go poorly. The whole mantra of planning for the worst and hoping for the best. The majority were done in public places, like the mall or restaurants. All with a clear plan of how to get away if things did go poorly. I would make sure to have viable exit and a well thought out method of egress.
Throughout the process of working through this list, I would go to visit my mom and try to find my nerve. In the end, I’d sit and talk for a couple hours and then I would leave. Too scared to just say it. No longer afraid to be myself, but terrified of the reactions of those who I loved most. I had squarely placed my mom on the end of the spectrum of people that I couldn’t bare to lose.
As it so happened, I was to be off work on a Thursday. With all of the trans stuff and then the holidays compounded on top, I had become a little ball of stress. In December, I had met a new friend, who happened to be a licensed massage technician. That Wednesday evening, I messaged her to see if she had any openings. She confirmed that she could get me in at 10:45. So, even though I was still presenting as male, I put on some yoga pants and a ladies t-shirt and I headed down to her office. For the next hours, I let her force out 34 years of pent up stress. I left there feeling very zen and centered. I decided that it was time to tell mom. Megan had said she would go with me to be my moral support, but she was at work and I was feeling like a million bucks. I hopped in the truck and drove from the Highlands down to Bullitt County.
However, much like the other visits, this one pretty much played out like the others. I got nervous and I couldn’t get the conversation started. In fact, I had given up and was getting ready to leave. My mom had gone to her room to lay down and I got a brief moment of courage and I took a deep breath and decided I needed to tell her just one last thing.
I came in and I sat down on the bed and I told her that I needed to tell her something important. Immediately, she was sitting up and worried that I was dying of an incurable disease. Putting out that fire, I started in on the next. As was customary in my various coming out speeches, I led in with “So I’ve been seeing a therapist…. and I’ve been dealing with some issues, and well… I’m transgender” We talked for probably 30 or more minutes. I explained that this was something that I had always felt. I had never been truly comfortable in my own skin, etc, etc, etc…
Her response was that she had known since I was 3 or 4, but she always kind of just figured I would be gay. I said something like “Well if you had said something, maybe we could have saved a lot of time.” I explained to her the next steps. That I was seeing an endocrinologist in the coming weeks and hoping to start hormones as soon as possible. I told her about my upcoming laser hair removal. I answered all her questions, to the best of my ability.
Once we had come to a conclusion of the conversation, she went out to the living room with me and we sat down and had the same conversation with my step-father. Now, my step-father and I have always had a great relationship. They have been married for 30 years, and he’s been with me since I was 5. He’s as much my dad as my own biological father. In some ways, more so. So to say that his approval was important to me would be putting things extremely lightly.
If I had to explain his reaction in only one word, I would say that word would be “confused.” I had opened with the same bit about therapy, which I did to kind of offset the “are you sure” line of questioning. Even still, he asked “Did you get a second opinion?”
I considered how to answer that question and the best I could come up with was, “She was the second opinion.”
He thought about it some more and he said something along the lines of “It would be a lot easier if you were just gay.” To which I agreed. However, I thought about that too and then I explained that I was a lesbian, so actually I was gay. I explained that I did not have any intentions of leaving Megan and that we were going to try and make this work.
At this point, I think his brain actually locked up and needed a reboot. He was having a really hard time separating gender from sexuality. He could comprehend a gay man, having them in the family. However, a guy who’s transitioning to a girl, who still likes girls? We might as well have been trying to divide by zero.
However, in the end he was accepting and we hugged and he kissed me on the cheek and I went on my way.
Once it was all said and done, my mom was upset with me. Not because I was trans. But because I had waited so long to tell her compared to other people. She was upset that my aunts and uncles knew before her, but to my credit…. they weren’t supposed to know.
With that out of the way, next came the letters and then the facebook dump. Which I refer to as the scorched earth approach. No one can turn around and tell someone else, I already told them. So there!