Thursday, 2 October 2014

My mom wrote a letter

Driving home from work last Wednesday I heard the familiar ping of an incoming text message. I checked it when I got home. It was my mom, saying she needed to talk to me, and asking if now was a good time to call. I texted back "sure" and my phone promptly rang.

"I think we should tell your grandparents about your being transgender," she said, after the initial hellos.
"Uh, okay. You mean like, soon-ish?"
"Yeah. I think they should know. And I'm sure they'll accept you."

She explained that her parents and my dad's parents had both specifically enquired as to how I was doing recently. Both of my grandmothers are active on Facebook— (that tells you something about my age, eh)— and she figured that some of what I'd been posting recently might have made them wonder about me.

Personally I thought that she might just be reading into things, making connections between phenomena the way our brains tend to do. But regardless, my grandparents have to learn at some point. So I said okay.

As we talked about it it became apparent to me that she had, in fact, already written out an email to her parents and my dad's parents explaining the situation. She was phoning to get my permission to hit the send button. So I asked her what she'd written.

"Like, it explains that you feel like a woman trapped in a man's body, and that..."
"Uh, well,"  I interrupted her, "that's not the terminology I would use."

(Of course, the old "x trapped in a y's body" is a reasonably good answer to the what is trans? question if you're talking to someone who's completely unfamiliar with the concept and have at most one second to explain it. But otherwise it's pretty inadequate.)

"Oh," she replied, "what would you say?"

And if I had had the presence of mind to do so, I might have come up with something like, "I feel internally that I am mostly female, despite the fact that my body appears male, and this incongruity causes me a significant amount of discomfort."

But instead I said, "Oh, I don't know. I guess that's close enough." (Not a great answer on my part, I know.)

At this point I asked her to just read me the whole thing, which she did. And for the most part it was pretty good: explaining and clarifying some aspects of what trans is and isn't, as well as stating that I'd always been this way and that my parents' relationship with me was still good.

Unfortunately it also included some theologizing that I found a little unpleasant. There was something along the lines of: "We don't know why God allowed our child to be born with this condition, but we believe all things happen for a reason." She actually felt the need to clarify that they believe God intended me to be born with a male body.

That stung a bit, to be honest. Personally I think that "a thing happened, therefore God wills it" is a pretty horrifying way to look at the world. But I didn't argue with it being in the letter: she was writing from their perspective and if that's what they believe, it might as well say so.

After reading the whole thing she asked, "does that sound good?" I said "Yeah, I guess so" and she sent it.

And then she started talking about Minecraft and how monsters had recently blown up her house. (She and I play on the same server, along with my brother, which is pretty cool). And I realized that I am a lot more comfortable talking about video games with my mom than about my gender.

This was over a week ago now. I haven't heard anything from her about how or if my grandparents responded, but I'm not too worried about it. They're good people.

Mom's letter may not have been the exact words I would have chosen. But I am certainly glad I didn't have to be the one to write it, coming out being pretty low on my list of favourite things to do. So... thanks ma! :)


  1. Sounds to me as if your Mom - and your grandparents - recognize what a terrific daughter/granddaughter they have, Ashley! :D Congratulations!

    I also have to add that in the Least Likely Statements I'll Ever Hear From My Mother category, "Hon, let me tell you about my latest Minecraft adventures" ranks just a notch below "Hi Cass, let me share some makeup tips with you." lol

    == Cass

    1. Thanks Cass!

      I think it will be some time before any of them are truly capable of seeing me as a daughter/graddaughter, though, notwithstanding the support and accpetance they've shown so far. Which is okay, these things take time.

      My mom is way more into video games than I am, actually. She's kind of a geek, but like, in a cool way. :)

    2. A cool geek, you say? Isn't that an oxymoron? lol

      Joking aside... you have exactly the right attitude, Ashley; give it time. Smart girl. :c)


  2. When I told my Mom that Jeremy's trans she immediately told me she figured something was up judging by my posts on Facebook (Jeremy never goes on Facebook so there wouldn't be anything on zir page). Actually, I'm still not sure what she saw on mine and figure she was probably going by Jeremy's pictures. Jeremy was relieved too that I'm the one who sent out the initial letters.

    And I'm with Cassidy on the least likely statements. I'm still trying to convince my Mom that updating Java is not going to blow up their computer. There's no chance of her playing Minecraft. Actually it makes me dizzy so there's no chance of me playing Minecraft either. I can tolerate it in small amounts, just long enough for Jeremy to show me zir new chandelier, the new gardens, the view of the square sun from zir rooftop (and how zie can jump off said rooftop LOL). Zie has to bond with me over Doctor Who.

    1. My mom, my brother and my sister-in-law are usually the ones that play video games in my family. The three of them have spent a lot of bonding time over World of Warcraft, which I got (unintentionally) left out of, because I simply don't enjoy that kind of game. Now that my mom and my brother have started playing Minecraft the three of us bond over that, but my sister-in-law gets left out for the same reason.

      So it's a good thing we all enjoy Doctor Who.