I am going through some big changes right now, and I wanted to write you a letter to tell you about them. These changes are things I have been dealing with my whole life, but I am only now, at this age, capable of admitting to them and processing them in a healthy way.
You know I have always been a tomboy, never interested in wearing girls clothes or dating boys. So I am sure it came of no surprise to you when I came out as gay. I know that isn’t always an easy thing to hear, but you dealt with it in your own way and I appreciate that you have never treated me differently for it.
I remember once when I was a kid, you and we were coming out of Sun Drugs at Northgate one night and someone addressed me as a boy. I got upset and you said, “Well, maybe if you didn’t dress the way you do, he wouldn’t have thought you were a boy.” But you misunderstood: I wasn’t upset that he addressed me as a boy. I was upset that me being addressed as a boy was a problem for everyone else. I have my whole life felt like a boy on the inside–every time I had to wear a dress felt like a humiliation, felt like a costume that didn’t fit me. I couldn’t conform – the feminine role and expectations just didn’t fit who I was. This inability to fit in as a woman has brought me great distress my entire life.
I’ve tried to compensate for this by avoiding the issue: I pretend that being butch and ignoring the parts of myself that I don’t like is a good enough way to live a life. But I’m 34 years old this year, and as I reflect on this, I realized I’ve never been content with who I am. I’ve never felt comfortable in my own skin. I’m tired of fighting, compromising, and simply trying to ignore this problem. We only get one chance at this life and I have decided to be myself honestly and fully.
As a result of this decision to be my true self, I sought help. I have been going to a therapist for over two years and am finally capable of admitting I am transgender. That is, my brain is much more male, while my body is female. Scientists are still trying to figure out how this happens but most research points to hormonal imbalances during pregnancy that impact the fetus.
I explored the treatment options available to me. It appears the best outcomes are those that end up aligning the brain and body. Doctors can’t “re-wire” the brain so the only alternative is changing the body to match the brain. I will be having what is called “top surgery.” That means I will be removing my breasts in order to have a more male looking chest. But I do not identify as male. I know this sounds confusing, and I’m sure you have heard of individuals having a sex change. But I am in the middle: I don’t see myself as a man, but I am not fully a woman either. And there are a lot of people like me in the world. Removing my breasts feels just right to me in order to express my gender as my brain sees it. I still use female pronouns, and you can still call me “Em.” I have sent mom a letter too, and please feel free to talk to her or S** about this. I ask you not to mention this to your side of the family, however, because I fear it will just encourage gossip and slander. I would prefer you not have to defend my decisions to a hostile audience. My medical choices are none of their concern.
Please be certain: I love you and am willing to answer any and all questions you have about this.
*Thanks to my new friend Tam, whose own letter to his family I borrowed snippets from to help shape my own letter here.
**S=my little sister. The best one ever, really. 😉