A Letter from my Best Friend to his Parents
Dear Mom and Dad,
The first and most important thing I want to tell you is that I am still the same person in all of the ways that really matter. I still like to wear my frilly blue apron when I bake. I still love doing theatre and building things. I still am the most Slovak out of all of my cousins. I am still a die hard Indians fan and I get excited any time I see Lady Vols Softball on tv. I am still the little kid who used to sit on the stump in the back yard and talk to cows. There was actually a study that said that cows have best friends. I think I was theirs. Most importantly, I still love you and Andrew and Abby and Baxter and Simon. None of these things will ever change and none of them ever will.
Now, that I’ve made that clear, I’ll try to start from the beginning. When I was really little we would play house in preschool. I always wanted to be the dad. I would pretend that I was doing it so no one else had to, but I really liked it. It also wasn’t just house. When we played city in the basement, I almost always wanted to live on a farm with a horse. And when I was on the farm I was Bryan. There was no reason that I had to be a boy when I was playing farm, but I always wanted to. When I was playing, I always said that I (Bryan) would grow up and love animals and never be moody or argue like Andrew. I was going to be the perfect son. I never told anyone this because I knew I wasn’t supposed to be a boy. While it felt good to be Bryan, it was still ok being Kaitlin. I could sometimes forget. One of the biggest times it bothered me when I was little was when I saw a documentary on tv about a boy who was born with both sets of sexual organs who had surgery as a baby to make him physically female and was raised female. He never felt right and rebelled against being a girl. I had a moment of realization when I saw this and I became convinced that someone had done something to me to make me not a boy anymore. I was really upset about it, but I never told anyone because I didn’t want to blame anyone. After that round of feeling wrong faded, I was able to mostly push it to the back of my mind for awhile. People complimented me when I dressed girly, so I dressed up because I needed the compliments. I didn’t really like myself so I used the praise so give myself artificial self esteem. When I got my period there was a moment of disappointment because it meant that I really was biologically a girl and I hadn’t been changed like I thought when I was little. But once again, it faded and I was able to go on with life. The next time it resurfaced was about half way through high school. Wes and I decided to go on a cross dressed date for fun. It never actually happened, but night after everyone went to bed, I decided to practice. I borrowed some of Andrew’s clothes and one of dad’s hats and wrapped my chest in an ace bandage. I looked in the mirror and I was amazed at how good I looked. I felt more attractive as a guy than I ever had as a girl. I took a picture on my phone and showed Wes and he agreed. I kept that picture on my phone until I got a new one and I would look at it a lot. After that I became really interested in drag kings. I would do research at night so no one would know. I would walk around my room with my flat chest because I liked the way it looked. I think there might still be a ball of duct tape in my room that I used one time. (And don’t worry, I know that is dangerous and I don’t use tape anymore) I would dress up when people weren’t home or were asleep pretty regularly through the rest of high school. When I got to college I had to stop because I didn’t want Phoebe to know. I got distracted by all of the new things happening in my life because of school so I was able to let it fade from my mind again. The next time it came back was one night spring quarter when Phoebe and I were drunk. I told Phoebe that I was attracted to girls and that I might be a guy. I freaked out and was crying really hard. I didn’t want any of it to be true. Phoebe climbed on my bed and hugged me until I was finally able to fall asleep. Over the next couple weeks, I got used to the idea of liking girls. I kept feeling like a guy hidden though. I wanted to be normal and that would make me a freak so no one could know. Phoebe and I never brought that part of it up again. So then, over the rest of spring, I came out as bi to my friends because I thought there was a chance I liked guys. I came out to you guys over the summer because I wanted mom to ask about the girls I liked. It was always something kind of special to me that we could talk about my crushes. A lot of people can’t do that with parents. I also continued to occasionally cross dress when no one was home over the summer. When I got back to school, I was fully out as bi to everyone. After awhile, someone pointed out to me that I never talked about liking guys, only girls. I thought about it for awhile and realized that they were right. I started calling myself a lesbian, but right from the start I hated the word. It never quite fit and I didn’t like the connotations that came with it. I would usually use the words gay or queer to describe myself and I only used lesbian when pressed. I tended to talk about being gay a lot at school. I think it was because I was hoping that if I said it enough, it would finally fit. The next time I brought up feeling like a guy was to Andrew in the winter. I felt like I could trust him and I had to tell someone because it was tearing me up inside. He was really accepting of it and it didn’t change anything between us. He asked why I hadn’t done anything about it and I told him that it was because it would be too hard and I didn’t want to put up with all of the struggles. Andrew and I would talk about it occasionally, but for the most part I kept it on the back burner. Then I went to the drag show at the end of winter quarter. If you went dressed up, you could get in for cheaper. It was the perfect excuse to take my cross dressing out into the real world. So that night I went dressed up. I felt so confident. I smiled the whole way there and it was awesome. I had a great time at the show and some of my friends told me I should perform next year. I was torn because I loved dressing up in guy’s clothes, but I didn’t want to perform. I just wanted to be me, but as a guy. On the way home from the show I ran into my friend Mel. She didn’t realize I was in drag. She said she thought I was just trying something new. She said I looked comfortable. That really resonated with me. Comfortable. It was a feeling of calm that I rarely felt. After that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I looked up drag king and ftm transgender videos on youtube and was fascinated with them. Still, I didn’t tell anyone. This was just something in my head that I kept secret. I didn’t have any plans of letting it out. Things really started accelerating at the beginning of spring quarter. I let it slip to my friend Shannon that I thought I might be a guy. She directed me to her friend Anakin who transitioned when we was a freshman in college. I was really nervous, but I finally worked up the courage to talk to him. He started telling me how he knew he was trans. As I read it, I started freaking out and shaking because I could related to almost everything he said. When I realized that I was definitely trans I actually threw up. I didn’t want it to be true. I just wanted to be normal. I cried a lot and freaked out because I knew how hard it was going to be. Still I didn’t tell anyone else. I kept struggling with it for a few weeks. I got really withdrawn and I couldn’t focus or care about anything, even my set. Then one day I just couldn’t get out of bed. It wasn’t worth it because I felt so bad. I stayed there until noon and just didn’t go to class. Then I realized that the only way I was going to make myself get up was as a man. The weight instantly lifted. I put on a pair of cargo shorts and wrapped my chest in an ace bandage. Then I went about my day. It was like the world was new again. It felt amazing. I knew this had to be right if it could change my outlook so completely. That night I called and told you. I wasn’t hiding anything because I had no plans of coming out. I just physically could not stand it any longer. So that brings us up to the present.
I know another big issue is that you feel upset that I have never really confided in you. I think I owe you an explanation for that because it is not really anyone’s fault. One night when I was really little I was having a sleep over with Alyssa. We were playing Monopoly on the computer. All of the sudden I got a panic attack. I was overwhelmed by the knowledge that one day I would die. It was so terrifying. I ran to mom to tell her about it. She held me in the rocking chair and tried to comfort me telling me that I would still live for a very long time. This didn’t help because it still meant that my time was finite. Mom told me to try not to worry and to go back to my game. I saw how much it worried mom and I knew that she couldn’t help and I felt really terrible about it. So after that I promised myself that I would never worry either of you about things like that that you couldn’t help. I didn’t want to hurt you. I got into the habit of not telling you things and I was convinced it was the right thing because I was trying not to upset you. It seems really mixed up, but in my head it was what was best. I am going to try working on breaking that habit. My first effort was in making sure that you were among the first people I told that I was trans. I really want to try to get us to a closer relationship and I am willing to work on it if you are.
I guess the next step in the letter is things that are happening now. For one, I am happier than I have been in a long time. Everything just feels lighter and I feel so good about myself. I have stepped down from therapy every week to every other week because Dr. Panning agrees that my depression has basically become a non issue. At this point I have told all of my friends at school and some friends from home. I have not run into any problems with them and they mostly range from not really caring to being excited for me because they can see how happy I am. I emailed Brian at GFS and he agreed to bring me up at the meeting and I am just as welcome there as I was last summer. I have also talked to all of my roommates for next year and they have no problem with it, so our living arrangements are unchanged. The next step is to email my internship. I am hoping they will be accepting, but just in case I have also been doing research. There are no Ohio laws that protect transgender people, but there are protections under the city of Columbus. I am hoping I won’t have to use these, but they are there just in case. In the absolute wost case scenario, I could work at GFS 40 hours a week. On the bright side this would mean we wouldn’t need a new car because I could ride my bike to work. Hopefully it won’t come to that, but it is definitely a back up plan.
As for the future, eventually I will want to go on hormones. Eventually I will want to get chest surgery. Eventually I will want a legal name change. But I am not rushing toward any of these things. I want to try to make the whole family comfortable and I will try to pace myself to do that as well as I can.
I just want to say one more time that I love you very much and I hope this helps.