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! :)