Coming Out: The Letter – Take 17
I’d like to start by saying that I’m not writing this to avoid speaking to you in person. I just feel as though I can convey my message more effectively through written words than I can through speaking. This way, I can say everything I need to say without creating conflict, as well as give you time to think and talk among yourselves before we all talk together.
I’m at that point in my life where I’m figuring out who I am, what I want to do, etc. And with that, comes the discovery of my identity. As you may know, growing up, in middle and high school especially, I didn’t really fit in anywhere. I had my few select friends, but I still felt out of place, and everyone knew there was something different about me. I never knew where I fit in, and couldn’t figure out how to explain how I felt, until I met others like me.
I waited it out for years, hoping the feeling would go away, and it didn’t. It only grew stronger, felt more right, especially as I got to know more people and did more reading and talking to counselors (first in high school, then to Kelly, and now Cole). When I finally learned what it meant to be transgender, in late grade 10 (around the time I came out to you as gay), I knew that’s what I was. And when I stopped going to school when I was in college? It wasn’t just because I hated school and didn’t want to do it anymore. I was bullied and shunned because that was when I started being truly open about my identity as a transitioning female-to-male. I was told to leave the women’s center because I “wasn’t a real woman”, and I was shunned and bullied by members of the Pride Society and would be kicked out of the lounge because I “wasn’t gay” (meaning I wasn’t a cisgendered person who was attracted to people of my own gender) but “wasn’t trans enough” to be “allowed” to identify as transgender. I faced more bullying in college than I did in middle and high school, and felt that I had nowhere safe to go between classes, so I stopped going. I felt safer just riding random buses all day, and then coming home and lying, saying I’d had a good day or what have you. I’m sorry I lied about it then, but I wasn’t ready to talk to you about my gender identity, and so it was easier to lie and avoid the questions than it was for me to tell the truth.
I’ve always been uncomfortable in my own body. As I got older, I started to wear more boys’ clothes, and it made me feel a little better. I cut my hair short again, chose men’s glasses. Then I started wrapping my breasts when I’d get to school, starting in mid grade 11. I started using things like tensor bandages, multi-layering my sports bras. I tried duct tape once and ripped so much skin off when I removed it that I had a hard time showering for more than a week. Needless to say I never used duct tape again! Then, after graduation, I learned about special shirts they made for men with gynecomastia, and how other transmen wore them to bind their breasts too, so that’s when I ordered my first one – that white thing that Mom and Mantha always groaned about me wearing. It was great! While it didn’t hide them completely, it did give me a much flatter look, and putting that shirt on instantly made me happier and more confident. You guys moaned and groaned and complained when I’d wear it, saying it made me look “deformed”, and while the words hurt, I was still happy to wear it because I looked more like the person I feel like I am inside. The following year I bought a different style (the black tank top) and it was even better! I liked it so much I bought another compression shirt designed for swimming (not that I swim, but I thought it might be good for wearing to the barn in the summer as it could get wet/hosed down without getting tighter and hurting me). Again, you gave me flack for it, but I didn’t care, it felt right to wear it!
This is probably very confusing and possibly upsetting for you to read, but I need you to know that nobody is “to blame” for it. It’s just who I am. I hate to be cliche and quote Lady Gaga, but I was born this way! It has taken me a very long time to understand my feelings, and I’ve talked very in-depth about it with Kelly and now Cole, I’ve even talked to Dr Minish about it and you know how much I like her, haha! I need you to understand that nothing else has changed, I’m still that moody, stubborn kid, I’m just going by a different name and pronoun now, as well as certain aspects of my body. Before you ask, yes, I want top surgery, but no, I don’t want bottom surgery, at least not at this point in time. It’s something I’ll likely revisit in the future, but I don’t feel as though I need bottom surgery in order to be the young man I feel I am inside. As for the name, it’s already come up, but I do go by Shayne now. I’ve been introducing myself as Shayne since grade 12, and it’s how the majority of my friends know me. It’s how Cole knows me too. I just feel like a Shayne, that’s all. I chose to keep the “y” in the spelling as a bit of a tribute to the name you gave me at birth, to show that I am still the person you raised and love. I would really love it if you could pick out my new middle name though, it would mean an awful lot.
I know it may feel like I went behind your back by “coming out” to my friends first, but I really needed to build up a good support web just in case coming out doesn’t go too smoothly. Now, I’m not saying you’ll fly off the handle, I just know that there are people who have done as I have, by coming out as queer and then eventually as trangender, and having the queer coming out go over smoothly, but the coming out as trans part being less than pretty simply because being transgender is a very scary and very confusing thing for a lot of people, whereas being gay or bisexual seems to be a lot more easily accepted and understood. I have noticed that Mom has been watching more movies and TV specials about transgender people lately, and that’s part of what spurred me to finally come out. I’m sure that after reading to this point, you realize that a lot of the things I’ve done over the last few years have been clues, so my coming out shouldn’t be too much of a shock. Oh dear, I’m rambling. Ahem. Anyways, I didn’t tell everyone else first because I didn’t want to tell you, it was incredibly difficult for me NOT to say anything! I just felt that I needed to build a big support network “just in case”. You know how I am, always preparing for the worst. My weekly sessions with Cole have been so incredibly helpful, and I can’t thank you enough for paying for them. They started off being about other issues, and we still touch base on them when I see her, but lately I’ve had a LOT of anxiety over hiding my identity from you, especially after that night at dinner when Mantha brought up Mike and the tea place and how I go by Shayne. It was an extremely uncomfortable situation for me to be in, and I didn’t know how to handle it, which is why I quietly finished dinner and then left the table. So after talking to Cole, we decided that I’m emotionally stable enough to make the giant step of coming out, and that I need to get it over with and stop dreading it so I can live happier and less stressed and anxious. She also supports me writing you this letter before we talk about it all face to face and knows that I’m doing it.
I’ve been working on writing this since Christmastime. So far I’ve written 16 different versions, but threw them all out. Nothing sounded right, and I felt like I wasn’t getting everything out that I needed to say. This is version number 17, and I think I’ve finally gotten it right.
It has taken me years to come to this conclusion, and I am 100% sure that this is who I really am. It’s been a long, scary, confusing road to get to this point, but I’m here and I’m happy! You’ve always told me to do what it takes to be happy, and while I know I’ve done many things that make me happy that you might not necessarily agree with, I did them in the pursuit of happiness. I know that there are going to be people who don’t like or agree with my choices, but I’m at the point where I don’t care what those people think. In my pursuit of happiness and becoming entirely me, I need to stop caring what other people think, because those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter. I’ve also learned over the years that it’s not the quantity of friends I have that’s important, it’s the quality of the ones who stick around that matters most. I really hope you’ll be okay with all of this, and I’m sorry again for springing it on you with a letter, but I needed to be sure I said everything I needed to, and this was the best way to do it. I hope you’ll accept me as your son, if not now, then in time. I know that this will take some getting used to, and I’m willing to patiently answer any questions you may have to the best of my ability.
Love you always and forever.
Your loving son,