AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PARENTS OF TRANSSEXUAL CHILDREN
Copyright 1990 - Sheila Mengert, Esq.
You may be wondering why I am writing a letter to you even though I am a stranger. Probably the last thing that you want is to discuss the confusion, embarrassment and fear with someone you don't know. I understand. You wouldn't be reading this if someone you loved very much hadn't told you something you didn't want to hear, that your child is, was, and has been cross-gendered identified, that what you thought was true was not and never had been, that a silent agony was being played out for years and you just didn't know, maybe you didn't want to know, and now you do, and I'm presuming to talk to you about it.
I am banking on two things in presuming to talk to you: First, I am banking on a common human need for information when something new and confusing has entered their lives. Secondly, I am banking on your courage and on your love for your child which should be present now if it is present at all. If you are still reading then I know that you are who I took you for, people who love and who are ready to listen and to understand an experience that though rare is bone-deep real for those who experience it.
In order to grow through what you now know you must be willing to listen and learn. I'm sorry but there just is no other way. I am certain that the people before Columbus found it dismaying to learn that the world was not flat. I am equally certain that most of our society would like to believe that sexual minorities do not exist. The fact is that the earth is round and that transsexual people do exist. Your child is transsexual, and many things besides, but transsexual and because transsexual in greater pain and confusion that you would ever wish your child to be in.
I am not going to give you all the facts about gender dysphoria, which is the scientific name for transsexualism here. After all, this is a letter and not a treatise. As a letter, it is meant to be friendly and reassuring, but I have to be challenging at the same time. Why? Because what lies ahead for you will require the same courage, effort, commitment, and love that is required when anyone is forced by circumstances to face facts that one would prefer to deny or to ignore. My task is easier because denial and ignorance have a price that is far higher than the choice I hope you will make. Denial of facts does not make them go away and willful ignorance in the face of factsþwhen knowledge and healing are availableþis debilitating, futile, and when it touches the life of a loved one, culpable. I assure you that denial has already been practiced by your transsexual child for years. Your child did not ask or wish to be transsexual. Its costs have been born for years in the silent hope that the feelings would go away, but they haven't and the best research indicates that they never will.
By the time a transsexual child confides, takes the terrible risk of rejection that disclosure entails, the situation which is to say the pain has become undeniable. Your child is reaching out to you now not to hurt you but to show you the love and trust that is the only true sign of a good parent-child relationship, to tell the truth, the core fact of a life. If you haven't seen it that way then just pause and think a minute, would you really want your child to lie to you, would you enjoy living with a shadow of a person never really knowing who that person was? Don't be confused here with the question, þWould you rather that you never had to be told that your child was transsexual?þ The answer to that one is obvious, of course, you would rather that the necessity to face transsexualism was not present. The transsexual condition is not easy to face, it is one of nature's true anomalies. It may never be completely understood.
No, the question here is far more simple, þWould you want to live in a relationship with someone you loved and force that person to know in every daily act that you as a parent didn't really know him or her? Can real love exist where knowledge is absent?þ You may answer that this aspect of your child's life is private like what they do in bed. The answer to this is that transsexualism is not a minor aspect of life in that it involves how a person views herself or himself in body, social interactions, clothing, voice, gestures, friendship, and in intimacy, in fact in every aspect of life. A lie of this dimension would be a great lie indeed. In any case, the truth has been spokenþyour child has admitted you to the care of her life. If you are still with me your next question, þWhat do I do now that I know my child is transsexual?þ will be met with a few suggestions.
One brief personal note. I have asked myself for years how to make my life meaningful in the face of being transsexual. I realize that I am years behind in the normal maturation process, that whole continents of human experience have been denied to me because I am transsexual. I have tried to mourn the lighthearted joys of explorations that might have been mine in high school and college, the simple joy that would have come had the constant pain of exile in a body and social role that did not fit been eased for a moment.
I have so often wished that I might have been able to experience when it was possible what I am now trying to cram into the years that are quickly disappearing before my eyes, a girlhood and adolescence, known only in moments of fantasy and the vicarious experience of books. I have had to surrender much of my life to the brutality and incomprehension of societal ignorance surrounding the phenomenon of transsexualism. That ignorance and prejudice costs lives is no new discovery, it is the bane of every age whether it shows up in war or in civil violence or in silent hatred and misunderstanding. In this case though it was my own life that has been bled away year by year in my efforts to correspond to what body may have indicated but my soul knew to be an alien fabric out of which I could never hope to weave a complete or a happy life. The only comfort I have for those lost days and years during which I was a stranger to myself frantically seeking to garb my soul in the personalities and expectations of others, is that I might be the last generation to know such pointless suffering. That is why I am writing today, to spare others lost years, lost hopes, lost lives.
No other birth defect or developmental disability is treated with the snide and brutal complacency of transsexualism. People would be ashamed at the thoughtless cruelty seen so often in talk shows when brave people have attempted to tell of their pain and to grope towards a solution both for themselves and for others. We are in many ways a barbaric society in spite of all our technology. It is time that such treatment cease and that compassion that is so rare in society find a home in the families of the oppressed.
I cannot tell you now to try and understand what is in its very nature an incomprehensible condition, nor can I tell you what specific measures to take to ease your child through the transition to her true life. Your own love, courage, and imagination must be your guides along this path. I can tell you this, that no act of love will be a cause of regret, that no one profits when lives burn on in futility and frustration simply to sustain society's bland comfort in illusion. You may be the means of deliverance to more than your transsexual child. In realizing the truth of her life, you may gain the courage to embrace your own with all of its sorrow, disappointment, and fleeing dreams. The path of love and acceptance is not trod alone, transsexual people, so familiar with pain, may love and aid you in return as you pursue your own journey. Their happiness is your laurel wreath, their completeness your crown. Having given them birth will you now give them life? Will you aid in their restoration to the human community? Will you welcome them home?
SOURCE: J2CP Information Services