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An Introduction Letter

Page history last edited by Naug 5 years, 9 months ago

 

A Mom's Letter Introducing Her Transgender Daughter

Posted: 11/15/2014 9:35 am EST Updated: 11/15/2014 9:59 am EST 

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Dear family and friends,

Many of you already know that, over the past year, my youngest child, who has been known to us all as "Jon" since birth, has been questioning, exploring, and, more recently, affirming her gender identity. (Yes, I have used the female pronoun here correctly. It turns out that for all these years I was using the wrong one. My bad!) What my child has come to understand is that she is transgender and identifies as female. She has chosen to call herself "Elana," a name she feels more aptly reflects the person she knows herself to be.*

I realize that some of you might not be familiar with the term "transgender" or what it means to live as a transgender person. I have learned that a full understanding can be both deceptively simple and extraordinarily complicated at the same time. Thinking back to the moment of Jon's birth 15 years ago reinforces this observation. Toward the end of my labor, my husband and I experienced some moments of terror when the monitor showed a slowing heartbeat and the doctor declared, "We have to get this baby out." I remember hunkering down into a primal space and pushing for dear life, and although I did succeed in pushing this baby out, the room was leaden with silence as we all waited for that first cry of life, which was notably, frighteningly absent. When the wail came, the room seemed to explode with a palpable measure of joy. This is the simple part: I had birthed a healthy baby.

What followed is what follows the natural sequence of all births: the proclamation of the baby's sex -- in our case, a boy! Within seconds of the birth, everyone in the room had begun making and acting on assumptions about the significance of our child's genitalia. Since our baby quite visibly had a penis, we did not give the matter a second thought, and we forged ahead along the gendered path before us, as we had with our three older children, and as our parents had done when raising us. On a very basic level we assumed that the genitalia wholly determined the gendered direction of our child's life, and we also assumed that our child's identity would naturally align with maleness.

So here is where it gets more complicated. Most children are born with a penis or a vagina (and some are born with genitals that don't fall neatly into either category). For the majority of children, the brain and the body will match; that is, the interior -- the brain, or neuroendocrine system -- will work in tandem with the exterior, the physical body. These children will typically grow up aligned with the gender assigned to them at birth, and they will be comfortable in their skin, so to speak. For other children, the brain/body relationship is differently matched, complicating the relationship between the two. This can simply mean that that an individual with male genitalia knows herself to be female, and another with female genitalia knows himself to be male. (There are many other variations along the gender spectrum, which I will not go into here, but I would be happy to point you in the direction of more in-depth information, should you wish to learn more.) And now back to the simple part of this story and the most important truth of my life: I gave birth to a healthy baby, a human being, not a prepackaged promise of a predictable gendered life.

And now I am the fortunate parent who lives in awe of her 15-year-old child, whose courage and conviction to live authentically in a largely unfamiliar and often less-than-friendly world is humbling. And as Elana has grown into herself, so too have those around her. I have watched our family's love deepen as we've traveled alongside Elana on her journey. I have seen the care with which our friends have made the switch from male to female pronouns and from "Jon" to "Elana" without blinking an eye or missing a beat. I have watched our community -- neighbors, teachers, doctors, nurses, and, yes, even police officers -- unequivocally agree to see and address my child as the person she knows herself to be. I have been blessed to see humanity outshine ignorance again and again.

I am writing to you today to thank you for being a part of this amazing community we are fortunate to call home, and to ask you to join us in using the name "Elana," along with her chosen corresponding pronouns, "she" and "her."

Much love to you all,
L.

*I have used the pseudonym "Elana" to protect my child's privacy.

What do you think?  How would you and your family respond to a letter like this?  

Comments (35)

wikiuser0766 said

at 1:06 pm on Feb 13, 2016

I think this letter is amazing. Now a days, so many parents do not accept or understand what it means to be transgender. I have heard of so many instances where parents have physically/emotionally abused or straight out disowned their children due to their gender change. It is so nice to read a letter where a mother not only accepts her daughter, but encourages her change and loves her continually. Not only that, but her entire family is also accepting and loving towards Elana. I'm not saying this was easy and simple for any of them, it could have taken a long time for each of them to fully understand what was happening, we don't know for sure. But the fact that they took the time and effort to get to know Elana, listen to what she had to say and move forward is beautiful. You can tell by the tone of the letter how much she truly understands and loves her daughter unconditionally. If that's not unconditional love, what is? I wish more people in the world could be like them and I hope to see responses to transgender identities more like this in the near future.
If my family and I were responding to the letter, we would tell them how much we support Elana and her family. We would agree to refer to her as Elana instead of Jon and use her preferred pronouns accordingly. We would also agree that we feel the same way she does and that we accept her.

wikiuser0723 said

at 12:34 pm on Feb 17, 2016

I think this letter is really great. Most families are not as accepting to their child being a transgender and this family not only embraced it but spread the word to other family members and friends. I think more families should be this accepting to their child's decisions. If my family were to respond to this letter we would first all be surprised and be very questionable. In all honesty i think it would be very weird. Many may say they would be completely ok with it but i honesty think it would be really weird to treat a boy that you have known for 15 years like a girl all of a sudden. I would eventually get use to the fact, but at first i honestly would be really weirded out. I understand this is their choice but it would take me a while to fully understand and accept them.

wikiuser0734 said

at 5:34 pm on Feb 18, 2016

I think this letter is good. I would go up to her and give her a hug for finally figuring out who she finally is and what she wants in her life. Many families, such as mine, would be totally against this idea and proclamation. My mom definitely does not approve of such behavior as she calls it because she says that if they were a boy all of their life, then why change it now? She is always very religious as a christian and that is against her beliefs as well as many others in the nation. I think people should just accept the fact people are who they are and there is no reason to argue about it.

wikiuser0747 said

at 7:49 pm on Feb 19, 2016

This letter is so uplifting. I love that the parents of Elana are so supporting because that can often times be so hard to find. I love that the whole community is so respectful and uses the name she associates herself with. My family would be happy for Elana and would show the same respect others have shown. Some might not think it is right but I'm sure that no one would go against their wishes. It would be a weird transition at first, since we'd be used to calling her Jon but in the end everyone would be with it.

wikiuser0720 said

at 11:23 pm on Feb 21, 2016

I don't know how i feel about this letter. If my son or daughter was transgender I would still love them the same way. I think it makes life so much harder for the person who decides to come out as transgender. Not many people are truly accepting of transgenders and many people think its a joke or its ridiculous. Some people say yeah I agree with this letter just to avoid the hate that comes from saying what they believe. People have the right to think what they want to think about anyone. For most people, people that are part of the LGBT community are looked down on because that is how it always was, it was common to think that "those" people are weird and different. I think that everyone should be given the same rights and everyone should feel accepted.

wikiuser0728 said

at 11:21 pm on Feb 22, 2016

I love this letter. I find it pretty simple, if someone wants to live a certain way and it isn't hurting anyone else, let them do it. You have to respect others for their differences and just because they don't fit in the box YOU assigned them, doesn't mean they are the problem. I appreciated the undying love this mother has for her child, and her ability to realize where she may have made a mistake. She prioritizes her child's desires over her own fears. I understand why parents fear their child standing out, but this mother is optimistic that others will see her child for her true self. It's idealized, but she realizes this and supports Elana in her battle against those who aren't fortunate enough to be as accepting.

wikiuser0728 said

at 11:22 pm on Feb 22, 2016

I would respond positively. If it were me coming out, I believe my parents would support me, and some of my family members. Unfortunately, it is hard for most of them to understand.

wikiuser0763 said

at 8:17 am on Mar 3, 2016

I think this letter is amazing. If I were transgender, I would love to have this woman as my mother. She is so amazingly supportive of her child's transformation from male to female. Nowadays, most of what you hear about trans people coming out to their friends, family, and community is not good. Ignorance is rampant among many people, including parents, and some parents even disown their children when they come out as transgender. Many trans people even resort to suicide due to the rejection and isolation they feel from their family, friends, and community. The fact that this mother is so understanding, loving, and supportive of her child is amazing and definitely refreshing. It is nice to see that not all parents are ignorant and judgmental, and the fact that Elana's friends, family, and community are so supportive and understanding is amazing and definitely makes me feel more optimistic about the future for the trans community. If I came out as transgender, I believe my family would respond similarly to this after they have come to terms with it.

wikiuser0743 said

at 3:55 pm on Mar 3, 2016

I think the letter is great her mother is so supportive of everything thats happened and that wonderful how accepting she is with her daughter. Although i do not think my parents would be so accepting. My parents are so homophobic its so bad and i dont think its their fault at all. I believe its the generation that they grew up in and even though we are in a different generation thats how they grew up so whether i like it or not thats what they believe in. I'm so happy im not gay or anything because my parents would flip and they wouldnt accept me for sh** lol. although who knows because a lot of parents dont agree with this but they love their child so they see pass this in their child and they still love them. but in my opinion who cares everyone should feel loved for who they are and have the same rights so this letter was pretty cool.

wikiuser0754 said

at 12:10 pm on Mar 9, 2016

The letter is very important to the writer's family/friends/relationship with said daughter. I would respond in a positive way, the family she lives with fully supports the child's choice to become a transgender. The fact that the family is spreading the word and respects the view of cousins/other family/friends, proves that there is good in the world and she hopes other people will understand why the Elana is who she is now. My family would react kindly. It would take a little while to explain what the letter means, but after they understand what transgender is and where Elana is making her decision from, they will firmly believe it was a good decision on Elana's part.

wikiuser0750 said

at 8:30 am on Mar 16, 2016

I think this letter releases a lot of tension that the writer/family may feel and I think my family would be welcoming. I would try to respond positively. If I were to judge Elana, it would be as friend or foe (or perhaps neither) based personality traits and observed behavioral patterns, not something as obscure as normal or abnormal based on something like gender. After all, who determines whether or not two people will get along based solely on gender? I am perfectly fine with the gender she is, even if it was not how she started out. I'm proud of Elana and wish a happy fresh start for her. On top of that, this letter was very well written. Elana is lucky, though, that her community is as accepting as it is about this. People who are accepting of a transgender person are sparcer in other communities in different parts of the country and world.

wikiuser0716 said

at 10:03 am on Mar 18, 2016

This letter is so beautiful. I'm glad to see that parents are more accepting of their child's decisions. I know for sure my mom and I would be happy to hear that someone has finally found the happiness that they've been looking for, finally taking the steps into what will make them the real them. To be honest I'm not sure on how some of my family would react to something like this. My dad and brother would read the letter and just acknowledge it, they would never say anything negative about a situation like this. They would probably say something positive like "good for them." The fact is, everyone would react in different ways, I can't speak for my aunt, uncle, cousins, on what could be their opinion. Some people are more understanding than others.

wikiuser0746 said

at 7:01 am on Mar 22, 2016

This letter gives hope in socitey. We dont live in a perfect world and I think people forget that. People turn there backs on different because its easier to ignore then to be open minded. I would hope my parents would be open minded and to love me unconditionally. Parents are to be your guides in life to help you be a better you. If your brought up to hate/discourage then i think your parents failed in the department to let you think for yourself and to have your own views. I think transgener really hasnt been a big topic till now. I aslo think my generoation and the others to come will be alot more accepeting when having kids because we grew up in the generation where it was okay to marry the same sex/its okay to think you were given the wrong sex. I hope to always be accepting and to never judge someone else on how or what they think is right unless its hurting them or doing harm.

wikiuser0715 said

at 11:21 am on Mar 22, 2016

I am deeply moved upon reading this letter in that the person responsible for writing it not only portrays acceptance of the child, but also appears supportive and encouraging of the decisions the child has chosen to make. Furthermore, the support Elana has received from the community she resides in suggests that there is hope for a lesser degree of judgment concerning people that may be subjected to a similar situation in the future. I would not be able to speak on behalf of my family, as all of my relatives react to matters differently.

wikiuser0751 said

at 12:06 pm on Mar 22, 2016

This letter is really incredible. It really shows how much love this mother has for her daughter, and the support she rallies behind Elana. It was uplifting to read that there are parents out there that are accepting and supportive. I also really liked that the mother obviously had talked with her daughter and also probably looked into getting more information on the subject of transgender definitions and issues. I wish there were more people out there like her. I don't know how my mom would respond if I or my sister were in a situation similar to Elana's. My mom loves me, but is sectioned-off in some aspects of her feelings and beliefs. I doubt much more of my family, other than my little sister, would know how to react to me identifying as transgender.

wikiuser0736 said

at 7:42 am on Mar 23, 2016

This letter is nice because it shows how people can be accepting of things most people might not be so openly accepting about such as as figuring out your son identifies as a female. Additionally, you can tell from reading this that her mother lover her unconditionally and fully supports her child with her decision and so does the community in which she lives. I'm not sure how my family would react to this letter, their views on the subject vary greatly on this particular subject.

wikiuser0749 said

at 9:03 am on Mar 23, 2016

I think this was very nice, and that she was very accepting of what her child was no matter if your transgender gay straight or whatever it shouldn't matter atleast she's open

wikiuser0773 said

at 11:11 am on Mar 23, 2016

This letter was honestly beautiful because she really explained how since birth we are told its a female or male because of our genital but it doesnt always mean we feel the way we look outside or how we were born. I believe we all have that choice and right to feel the way we do. I know if i had gotten this letter, i would be so proud of the parents and for her because some parents wouldnt accept their child being trans and probably not let them express themselves like their child would want to. This girl really did get lucky with parents that accepted the fact that "he" didnt feel like a male but a female . I feel as a parent you should be accepting of your childs choice unless its harming them, of course. But if a male feels more uncomfortable with being a girl than so be it as well as the child is happy.

wikiuser0772 said

at 12:53 pm on Mar 23, 2016

I would respond to this email positively, I like how Elana's family is so supportive and accepting for Elana and her choices. Like Elana's family I would also be accepting to this letter and to Elana's decision about being transgender. If my family were to read this letter they would respond somewhat the same way, they would respond in a questionable way, but they would also agree that everyone is equal and everyone has their free agency to choose what they want to be and who they want to be.

wikiuser0714 said

at 7:45 pm on Mar 24, 2016

I think this letter is really sweet and brings to light how parents and community members should respond when someone chooses to make a transition between genders. I think how the mother explained what it's like to be transgender and how our gender physically doesn't necessarily match what our mind identifies as was explained in an easy to understand manner, which could make someone who is skeptical of this decision get a new perspective on it. I know my family would personally react positively to this letter. I was raised in a very open and accepting household, which I'm really grateful for, so I know while my family would obviously have to make some minor adjustments, we would be fully accepting and embrace this transition.

wikiuser0730 said

at 9:56 am on Mar 25, 2016

If my family received a letter like this I would have so much hope for our society. I think it is so important that the parent writing this letter is so proud of her daughter and so understanding. If this was my child I would do the exact same thing. Also, if this was me I would hope my family could be this understanding. I don't know if my family would be, but I think that's why awareness for situations like this is so vital. We are such an understanding generation and it makes my heart so happy that people like Elana are not scared to express themselves. I'm proud of anyone going through this because I can only imagine the pain. I hope everyone has people in their lives that are as understanding and helpful as Elana's family.

wikiuser0753 said

at 7:36 pm on Mar 25, 2016

I think this letter is inspiring in many ways, and I think it's great that she was able to come to term with who she really was. I think that her family showed her the support she needed throughout the whole process. My family would definitely be in shock for me or my younger sister, but I'm sure that they would support us with anything we decided. I accept anyone no matter what they define themselves as, and wouldn't look at anyone as any less if they decided on identifying themselves as a transgender.

wikiuser0733 said

at 9:43 pm on Mar 25, 2016

I do not like this letter. It's nice that Jon thinks he's a girl, but you are what you are. I have nothing against homosexuals, but I don't support the procedures. I get it that sometimes its hard to accept who you are, but poo poo happens. But I do appreciate all the support that the parents gave him. But if me or any of my siblings decided to go through with the procedure, I do hope that they would be supportive. Parents are there for support, and they better be there whenever you need them.

wikiuser0738 said

at 10:20 pm on Mar 25, 2016

I think this mother is very inspiring. The way she handled this dramatic life change in not only her life but also her now daughters is truly incredible. She used grace and compassion to describe how Elana is feeling and how she should be treated. If this were to happen in my family, I would hope everyone would be supportive. I would be. I believe that you should be happy with who you are. Whether its as small as the grades you get in school or something more serious as your gender, you should be able to be happy. I think the people in my family that would have a hard time accepting this would be the older generation such as my grandparent and great uncles and aunts. They are very "black and white". They grew up knowing it was one way. Who you are is who you are and if you're unhappy well then oh well. As a younger generation we are more open to new ideas of life and new ideas of being happy in our own skin.

wikiuser0722 said

at 10:34 pm on Mar 25, 2016

I'm touched this girl is lucky enough to have such understanding and accepting parents. I think my family and I may react differently to receiving a letter like this. If a friend of family member came out to me as transgender I think I would be equally as understanding and accepting as the parents in this letter, however my mom has a really hard time wrapping her head around the concept of transgendered people, and I'm afraid she wouldn't be as understanding, but I'm sure she'd try.

wikiuser0764 said

at 10:58 pm on Mar 25, 2016

I've been fortunate enough to grow up in a time where people have been increasingly more accepting of the transgender community, so I don't have the same ignorance as older generations do. I don't think my parents are completely on board with this idea, and they kind of poke fun at it, but I know just from hearing first and second person accounts, how dangerous it is to be transgender, even still. Hate crimes still get committed against them. Slurs are still thrown around like it's nothing, and it bothers me. I think the least someone can do is use the correct pronoun/name. The way I see it, if someone asked you to call them by a nickname, you'd do it out of respect to them, so I don't see why it's so outrageous to ask someone to use a different set of pronouns. Sure, it might take some adjustment, but I think that's a small thing to ask when some of these people can't even walk the streets without being verbally assaulted. And you should just respect people anyway. There's literally no harm in being politically correct, especially if it makes someone feel safer, and more comfortable. Elena's mother is inspiring, and I'd hope that my parents would be that supportive if I was transgender.

wikiuser0741 said

at 12:19 pm on Mar 26, 2016

A mother who truly accepts her child, no matter what path they choose, is a mother we all yearn for. Many kids are afraid to reveal their true selves to their parents and loved ones because they don't feel like they would be as supportive. We need to build our nation up into an accepting atmosphere for all people regardless or race, gender, or sexuality. I am fully supportive in the LGBT community and all their endeavors to make it better for those who are a part of the community. However, my household is divided between accepting and horrified. I'm strong enough to fight back their slurs and cruel remarks and I do have support from the other half. It's 2016, it's time for people to open their eyes and understand that we all want to live a happy life. ALL people are entitled to that, not a select view.

wikiuser0712 said

at 6:18 pm on Mar 26, 2016

I believe this letter is truly special in anyway that you would decide to look at it, acceptance is somewhat rare nowadays but better than it has been and it's great to see that parents are more excepting of who their children really are and do not shame them for it I believe it more people I like this the world would be a better place because people won't change who they are to make you happy but them being accepted completely changes the lives. I believe that everyone is created equally and nobody should be discriminated or hated for who they are !

wikiuser0762 said

at 8:56 pm on Mar 28, 2016

My family and myself would be very accepting of the child as we understand it is very hard for curious individuals such as Elana to continue with life when they don't feel comfortable with their own gender identity. Depending on how close we would be to the family that had sent the letter, we would be either very surprised if we hadn't seen them in a while nor talked to them in a while or seem as if we had seen it coming as we had noticed the person changing over the years. I feel the parents did alot for their child as they comforted them and helped them along their journey. I believe that is very important in a situation like this as the individual is under alot of stress and needs someone to turn to.

wikiuser0758 said

at 3:39 am on Apr 2, 2016

I've seen a lot of heartbreaking videos and articles about how family especially parents don't accept what their kids are wanting to identify as and you can see how sad these children get when their own blood and friends don't accept them or even get angry at them for something they can't choose. If I got this letter I would be super supportive and try to help in any possible way even if it was just trying really hard to use the right name. My moms side of the family would probably really supportive too because we've always had friends that are female to male transgendered thats really like to dance and stuff I've always seen them at parties that my family has. I'm not too sure about my dads side of the family because they're not used to it at all and they're very religious. This letter made me happy though because just like there's really sad and angry reactions to someone's child coming out as transgendered, there's also good ones and acceptance and comfort and that's what we need more of.

wikiuser0713 said

at 3:21 pm on Apr 4, 2016

I think this letter was really nice. Many people will find it hard for them to write a letter like this. some parents will take it the wrong way. If i were to get a letter like this i will support whom ever it is without a problem. I feel like everyone should respect the way some feels and support what they want to do. I feel like they should be treated the same as everyone else. If it was my family i believe that both my mom and dad side will support me and respected it. I dont think they will treat me any different.

wikiuser0717 said

at 7:55 am on Apr 5, 2016

I don't know about how my family would respond to this, but I'm fine with all this, it doesn't bother me none.

......Except for the whole, having to refer to the person as a "she" and not a "he", that will have to get some getting used to, (so don't flaque me for making a mistake or three).

Naug said

at 11:23 am on Apr 6, 2016

Thank you for sharing your opinions. No credit will be given past this post.

wikiuser0735 said

at 9:52 am on Apr 13, 2016

well me, as an open minded person. I don't judge the book by it's cover. I do believe in God, but none of these people chose to wake up one day and choose to be gay, the the next day choose to be straight. People think it's a disease but it's not. Some of the people depend on their religion but i think it's wrong. Why would you judge or hate a person without doing anything bad to you? It hurts me because those people also search for love. Like what pope said "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am i to judge?" Spread love everybody! Well for my family's side, they're like think like they're from 400-BC. They don't really support that but they respect people. Because God wants us to love and respect.

wikiuser0718 said

at 8:29 pm on Apr 17, 2016

I think the way this parent took it was very nice, on the other hand i dont think my family would be as accepting because of their religious views.

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