I've officially come out to my sister as transgender.
Okay, that may not sound like much, but for me it is. As many of my regular readers may know, I grew up in an evangelical, republican, military family in the Deep South. It's not an environment that's highly conducive to coming out as LGBT. And that's putting it lightly. For most of my life I've lived in shame, terrified that someone would discover my secret, worried about what would happen if my family ever found out I was transgender. Coming out to my sister is the first step.
My sister and I were the only two kids in my family. As we were a military family we tended to move around a lot. There was always a new town, a new school. So our family grew kind of insular. Some people thrive in that environment. Me not so much. But my sister and I were always close, even into college. As we are so close, I think she's always known I was transgender (or whatever people thought before transgender became a household term). Despite this, I've never officially come out to her. Until now.
I mailed her a letter yesterday. I know some of you are thinking "a letter, Faith? Why not a call?" Well, firstly I hate talking on the phone if I can avoid it. The other day I was trying to call my doctor's office about something and it took me a minute to remember how to place a phone call on my phone. Plus a letter gives the recipient a time to process, to digest. A call sort of seems to put the person on the spot. That doesn't seem fair. Also it's easier for me and my lack of courage too so everyone wins!
Well, it's been mailed.
Here's some edited highlights I thought I'd share. The actual letter was much longer because I tend to be a little wordy sometimes.
"You’re someone who’s been there for me my whole life and you’re important to me. Plus we never actually ratted each other out to mom or dad when we were teens and for that I will always eternally owe you. We’ve had our shouting matches through the years, but you’re my sister and that’s important to me.
So, yeah, you’re my Face Book friend, but I should probably come out and tell you that I’m transgender. You may already know. You might have guessed. You might have heard rumors. But I wanted you to know straight from me. You deserve as much for putting up with me all these years.
This isn’t anything new. In fact this pervasive feeling of dysphoria, of not being right, has been with me literally as long as I can remember. I’ve been dealing with being transgender all the way back to those early days. You’ve met our parents and you know our upbringing, so you know this wasn’t the kind of thing I ever felt safe bringing up as a kid. It wasn’t even until I moved to NYC that I was ever comfortable expressing myself in public or with friends. It’s only now, with transgender topics on the front page of Time Magazine and in the public eye that I even have the courage to really come out. My whole life growing up I did my best to hide my transgender feelings. I thought they were shameful and made me unworthy of love or even eternal salvation. Heck, there wasn’t even an internet then, so I was completely lost, confused and ashamed. All of that is the reason I’m only courageous enough to come out now.
You’re the first person in the family that I’m even talking to about this. Hopefully I’ll come out to them too soon enough. Mom, I think, will be okay. Dad will no doubt threaten to disown me but then be too lazy to actually do so. I think he’ll eventually learn to deal. And the rest of the extended family - well, perhaps you now know one of the reasons I’ve kept to myself all these years instead of being involved in family. I probably should come out to them at some point, though honestly I don’t really care that much what they think. But, I’d like the next generation to know they at least have an LGBT ally in me should they ever need it. So yeah, eventually. But you first. I hope you feel special!
So, I’m still me. I’m still the same person I always was. I hope you’ll accept me as your little sister. Your support in this is insanely valuable to me. I take the older family rejecting me. I can take dad disowning me, but I’m not sure I could take it if you did. That’s not to put any pressure on you obviously. I mean, feel what you feel. But I hope you can accept me.
As I said, this is something I’ve dealt with my whole life. I’ve still got miles to go on this particular journey, but I hope I can have my big sister along with me.
I'll post an update once I hear back. Wish me luck!