An Open Letter to my Mom
It’s been such a long time I’m not even sure where to start, so forgive me if things seem to bounce around. Let me start with what I KNOW. I KNOW that I love you, and I KNOW that you love me. LIFE has made things very difficult for us to stay connected, I get it – but the love is there and always will be.
When I was born, I’m sure you and dad had hopes and aspirations for me. And I did my best to live up to those. I tried to be a “good kid”. You taught me right from wrong and I always tried to live that way. But I never told you what I was feeling inside, deep inside of me, and I can’t tell you how sorry I am for that. Though it wouldn’t have changed things about who I am, at least you would have known sooner – at the same time it just may have made things so difficult that I might have tried to kill myself from the tension because I’m sure you would have tried to “fix me” (and it just doesn’t work that way.) I just have to trust that our Lord in His wisdom knew that WHEN I finally told you was the BEST time to tell you.
I’m sure you have asked yourself and maybe even talked to others about what you could have done different, how did you mess up, what did you do wrong that made me turn out the way I did? It’s a simple answer – NOTHING! I was born this way – I was CREATED this way. I know that spurs a lot of new questions but I don’t have the answers to them all. I don’t know the physiology of why – neither does current science, but there is a LOT that science doesn’t understand, like Parkinson’s, SIDS (my spiritual mom lost her first child to SIDS,) Alzheimer’s and much, much more.
NOTHING happened to me growing up that somehow magically “did something” to me. I didn’t CHOOSE to be transgender – who would? I knew I was this way since I was little living on Lincoln Avenue. If I had an older sister or even a girl my age in the neighborhood growing up maybe I would have acted a little differently and maybe then you might have seen something to tip you off, but being the oldest of three boys and with mostly boys in our neighborhood, well I couldn’t even explore that. HOW I knew I couldn’t tell you about it – I don’t know, I just knew I couldn’t without it turning out bad. I think the last 24 years of not seeing you is pretty good confirmation of my instincts, and I won’t repeat the words my brothers said to me the last time we spoke. But something I want you to be sure to know is that I love ALL of my family. You, dad and my younger brothers. It hurts so much that I’m cut off from y’all (I’ve lived in Texas 12 years now – it’s rubbing off.)
I TRIED to be normal, I tried so hard. I wanted to be someone you could be proud of. I even got married trying to be “normal” hoping THAT would fix me – that somehow being married would magically make everything fine and I could continue to live and be happy as I was. I was wrong. We now know it didn’t, and that is probably my single greatest regret – involving her life into the mess that was mine. I’m ever so thankful everything worked out so well for her with her new husband and her children. I know she wouldn’t trade the family she has for anything and I’m grateful to God that He gave her the life she had hoped for.
It’s important to me that you understand you couldn’t have “fixed” me because there was nothing to fix. This is just how God made me. I’m a sinner as we all are but being who I am isn’t a sin. For most of my life I figured I would have to wait until I met Jesus face-to-face and ask Him myself WHY I was made this way, why I had to keep it a secret. But I just recently learned that yes, there IS a reason why I was born this way – that God loves ALL His children and our salvation isn’t determined by our gender, whether it matches the body we’re born with or not. He doesn’t look at us on the outside, He looks at the inside, our heart – and He’s called me to let those like me know that God does love them. He’s also called me to help Christians understand that our Christian brothers and sisters who are transgender are… our Christian brothers and sisters, period. I didn’t want it, I didn’t ask for it, He literally called me to it. I cried while praying and asked Him for someone else to do it because I wanted to just hang back in the shadows and be happy where I was, but that wasn’t His plan and I had to obey – and here I am writing about it for the world to read on my website.
I recently thought about it and then wrote an article that maybe explains least a little perhaps what you must feel – it’s just a guess but it’s certainly understandable. You lost your son, your firstborn – for all intents and purposes I might as well have killed him. But the person you knew as your son isn’t around anymore. I imagine you mourned, cried and grieved over the loss. Now there is this “person”, me. I’m still the same person but yes, I look a little different (I finally have the long hair I wished for all my life – why do you think I cried when getting a crew-cut as a kid) and yes, I’ve had surgery so I physically am female rather than male. But the person, the “who I am” hasn’t changed – no amount of exterior surgery or clothing can change who a person is inside. But there ARE differences between men and women, and now I’m just able to FULLY be the person I’ve always been. Much more different in appearance that in spirit. The person you loved the day before I told you is the same person writing this now. I’m so much happier now and thank God I’m still alive because continuing as I was did not have a happy ending for anyone.
Staying in touch with me once I transitioned to Laurie I know was painful for you. You were never able to call me or even write my name, you could only write my first initial, the same initial as my given name. It’s been hard for me too. You’ve never even seen me as your daughter – literally the daughter you never had. Whenever I’m in southern California I drive by your home, hoping for a glimpse of you outside and at the same time so heartbroken knowing that I’m not welcome to stop and knock on your door. I’ve even driven around the block a few times slowly… just hoping. But I want you to know that I AM the person you raised me to be. I have wonderful friends and am involved in an awesome church that even you and dad would approve of, and I am happy. The only thing missing in my life is the connection to my family.
There is so much we still need to ask our Father when we get to Heaven, and I’m so looking forward to those answers. But for now, I can only be WHO I am and serve the Lord you raised me to love in the way He has asked me to serve.
To say I MISS YOU can’t begin to describe the feeling. It’s been such a long time and I LOVE you so much. I would give ANYTHING just for a hug from you. I don’t know that you’ll even see this letter. There is so much of each other’s life that we have missed. I pray one day we can begin to make up for it. There is no one whose presence I miss and I love more than you.
I hope you send this to your Mom. It’s beautiful.
It went into the mail today. We’ll see.
Rich and beautiful. It strikes many harmonious chords with me. Thanks.
I hope every mom reads this – whether your child is transgender or not – the message is universal. We all have hopes and dreams for our children and they don’t always evolve the way we’ve mapped it out in our minds. Acceptance and love are universal and I really hope your mom reaches out to you. You are a beautiful person she can be so proud of!
Thank you Janine. I’m blessed to have you as my friend.
I read this and cried…I cried for the pain you have had to live with in your life, the separation with your family and you finally find the message that was meant for you. The only thing a child ever wants in life is to be loved by their parents and their family. I have taken on the care of my father with Dementia, and though my struggle and pain is not what you have experienced, it is a struggle with it’s own pain and for this I cried. I am so glad that you are happy now . I… Read more »
My mom passed away last year. I wish I could have said to her what you said in your letter, Laurie. As I was at her bedside on the final afternoon of her life, as she lay unresponsive and seemingly at rest, I realized that the opportunity to share this with her had passed. You were very wise to connect with your mom this way, Laurie. In doing so, at least you planted a seed…
Oh Melissa, I’m so sorry. I hope I will at least be able to see my mom again one day. How I dread thinking that one day she may be gone and the opportunity to be together here on earth is lost. As you sat there holding your mom’ hand – I’m sure she felt your love.