I want to preface this letter to let you know that I did take the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs directly from 'She's not there' Jennifer Boylan puts a much longer letter in her book than my version here. In either case the wording and definitions she used was written well that I wanted to use it to try to explain my situation to my family. I wrote this letter a long time ago now, but hadn't shared it here and thought I should. I had sent this letter almost a year ago now to anyone I had available whom I didn't have a one on one conversation with.
Feel free to use it as a template or read it as part of my story, either way I hope it helps some of you who may be thinking about coming out and aren't sure how exactly to word what you want to say. It took me quite a while to come up with this version, as I had a number of versions that I edited, wrote and rewrote before I had the finished version below. I wrote a 2nd letter varying it slightly to send to co-workers, which I didn't end up using as my work situation changed.
Dear friends and family,
I am about to embark on a journey that will change my life and the way those around me perceive me for as long as I live. Many of you have known me for my whole life up until this point and have watched me grow from a child into the adult I am today. While many of the noticeable changes will likely still take a while to occur, I thought it only fair to tell those of you who are closest to me so you know what to expect in the upcoming days, months and years.
I am transgendered. Specifically, I am a male-to-female transsexual. I have had this condition for my entire life, since before kindergarten, since before language. It is certainly a condition that I have had during all the years you have known me, and which has caused me an almost inexpressible degree of private grief.
Fortunately, transsexuality can be treated, and most of those who embark upon the journey of “transition” do go on to live fulfilling and joyful lives. Some of you might not have a clear idea what “transgendered” means, and that’s fine; this is not a subject most people are familiar with. Transgendered is the preferred term for the whole range of people with gender issues. Transsexuals – persons who feel that their body and spirit do not match – are a particular kind of transgendered person. At any rate, a transsexual is not a cross-dresser, for whom the issue is clothes. (“Transvestite” is now considered a pejorative term for “cross-dressers”; in any case, I am neither of these and would be grateful if you could appreciate this distinction.)
As a transgendered individual for a long time since I was little I knew something was different, it took me a while to figure out why I got along better with girls than boys, why I enjoyed playing house and dress up, but in the end I found that I have a female spirit and that my body currently does not match my soul. I have talked to my mother, brothers, and wife at length about the process and what it means and have made the decision that I can no longer continue as I am.
This means over the next few months I will begin hormone therapy, and over the next couple years I will begin to immerse myself in living as a woman on a daily basis. Given that the timing of events and the outcome of the hormone treatment is not predictable and has to be taken on an individual basis I cannot say when for sure yet I will be able to be presented as a woman in public. But in going through this immense internal struggle, I have found myself and come to know that this journey will likely be difficult and those closest to me may need more support than usual.
For most of you at family events and for a while still nothing will drastically change, other than the fact that you know what is going on. I do not expect all of you to be able to accept me, or understand completely, and I understand that everyone will take their own time and process this information in their own way. I do hope that even those of you who cannot accept me, will be able to continue to support my brothers and my parents who will likely need the support in the upcoming time period. I open my email, my door, my heart and my phone to conversation, questions and concerns and am more than happy to help in the understanding process any way I can.
To finish, I just want to say that for the time being my wife has decided to stay with me and go through this journey. We both love each other very much and do not foresee the upcoming changes eroding our love for one another.
For those of you who want more information, ’She’s not there’ offers an insightful novel into the life of a Colby professor, now known as Jennifer Boylan. I’m sure if you search the internet or ask for library references other sources of information can be obtained, my mother has also read a number of books and if interested she may share the titles of the ones she found helpful.