I have written before about my family. Some of them have rejected me. Some have accepted me. There are still some family members I need to tell I am transitioning. I am preparing a letter to send to some of my extended family. Its just hard to tell everyone personally with an extended family as large as mine. The nervousness is just exhausting because I often don’t know how different people will react.
When I accepted that I had to take this path, there were four key relationships I was worried about. First was my sister. I knew she would accept and support me, so it was just a matter of working up the nerve to tell her. Next is the relationship with my sister-in-law. I still have not told her and I know that, at least in the short term, it will be a negative reaction. My sister-in-law has been very vocal in her belief that transgender individuals are second class citizens. My hope is that her loyalty to our family in the wake of my brother’s death and seeing me walk this journey will help change her opinion of transgender individuals. My step-father is third just because he was such a wonderful father to me after my father’s death. He and I have had our conflicts, but he has loved me as though I were his biological child. I do believe he will accept me once I tell him. I just need to tell him face to face to tell him.
The fourth relationship is with my Aunt Porter, my biological father’s baby sister.
My family dynamics growing up were, for lack of better words, very screwed up. My mother struggled with substance abuse and depression. Between that and my father’s death, my dad’s brother and two sisters really stepped up to be parental figures to my brother, sister and I. My dad’s older sister was there, but we never got as close to her. His brother and baby sister, Aunt Porter…these two truly became parental figures to all three of us. Porter is the only one who remains of my father’s generation and my sister and I have remained very close to her. This may sound odd, but when my sister and I hear “motherly advice” in our heads, it isn’t our mother who is speaking to us. It’s Aunt Porter.
I had wanted to tell Porter I was transitioning in person. Internship had caused a serious delay in taking that step. As it turned out, Porter’s daughter, who I am very close to as well and shared my journey with back at New Years, decided to go ahead and tell Porter. She had asked me if it was ok and when she told Porter, she asked Porter not to acknowledge it until I told her. So Porter sat quiet waiting for me to try and find time to go visit.
That was until my sister told her about the events that occurred with my mom’s family back in April. Once Porter found out, she decided it was time to put pen to paper and write me a note.
When I checked the mailbox last week and saw the distinctive writing, I knew right away it was from Porter. When I saw that envelope, I immediately knew that my cousin had told her.
I cried as I read the note from her. She started out letting me know that she loves me, accepts and respects my decision and that no matter what people may say, she believes that God is with me on this journey…and that she will always be there for me. I just stood there in the middle of my driveway with tears of joy and relief running down my cheek.
As she always does, Porter than took some time to give me her sage advice on how to deal with my mother’s family. She reminded me of her own struggles when her son disclosed he was homosexual and she shared with me the lessons she learned on that journey. While I knew most of what she shared, it helped to reinforce it hearing those words from my surrogate mother. Aunt Porter has always had this amazing way with words and reinforcing lessons.
Her closing…I’ve actually read it every day since I received her letter. It says simply…
“I love you- loved you before and will love you always.”
I finally called Porter yesterday and we spoke for about 45 minutes. It was, honestly, the most open and transparent conversation she and I have ever had…because I am no longer putting up some front to her. We cried together. She reminded me how much she loves me. I reminded her how thankful I am for her. It was, for lack of better words, an amazing conversation.
Porter is one of those people who, I admit, I want to hear that she is proud of me. That’s a direct result of the love, respect and support she has shown me throughout my life. She IS a mother to me. Before we got off the phone yesterday, she told me she was proud of me for accepting myself and loving myself enough to face this challenge. I can’t even express the emotions I felt in that moment. It was beyond powerful.
Thank you, Porter. I love you and am so grateful for you. <3, Tiff