Hi Mum and Dad,
Iím not exaggerating when I say that this letter is the hardest one Iíve ever had to write. Iíve been racking my brain for weeks trying to figure out how to tell you what I need to, and finally realised that there is no ďrightĒ or ďbestĒ way to go about this Ė so Iím just going to be brief and too the point.
The fact is that I suffer from a birth defect called Gender Dysphoria (also known as Gender Identity Disorder or Transsexualism). I realise that this will come as a huge shock to you, and I honestly understand if you feel shock or anger at me for telling you this. All I ask is that you read this letter and try to understand.
There are a lot of preconceptions and misunderstandings about this disorder, but the most important thing to understand is that itís a physical - rather than a psychological - condition. In other words, itís not (as many people think) a matter of choice or environment (something which can be cured by counselling), but is instead a deformity (the gender of the brain and sex of the body develop differently, possibly due to a hormonal imbalance during pregnancy).
The best medical explanation Iíve seen is ďAn Open Letter to Physicans (http://www.genderweb.org/medical/docs/gmed19.html). Iíd strongly recommend reading this if you want to understand the likely causes of the condition.
I canít emphasise enough that the fact that this is a birth defect means that it is nobodyís fault Ė upbringing has nothing to do with it Ė so please donít feel guilty. Youíve absolutely no reason to.
Iíve been aware of my feelings since I was between six and eight years old, but never felt able to confide in anyone. Worse still, I can now see that I was so afraid and ashamed of how I felt that that I invented my whole ďvisibleĒ personality to disguise them. No wonder Iíve always been introverted and distant.
In effect, the person most people know as ďAndyĒ isnít really me Ė itís what I call a ďmaskĒ Ė a way of allowing myself to appear to be what others expected me to be, and protect myself from pain and guilt. The worst thing about this is that nobody has ever truly known me Ė and worse still, Iíve not even known myself. This sort of response is, it turns out, very common amongst sufferers of this condition.
Over the last year Iíve finally began to face up to who I am and start the long process of healing. Iím not exaggerating when I say that the last 6 months have been the most painful in my life Ė I now understand why the suicide rate among sufferers is as high as it is. Itís truly horrible for everybody concerned.
As time has moved on Iíve become more and more aware that my feelings werenít going to go away Ė no matter how much counselling I undertook. There are only two ways to deal with this condition and survive: either suppress my identity again (which I donít think I could do now - and believe me Iíve tried) - or seek medical help.
I now know I have no choice but to start on the latter path. Although it will take several years and probably be the hardest thing Iíve ever done, Iíve every reason to expect that the results will be fine (in fact, I was surprised to discover that treatment for this condition is almost routine now).
The tragic (but Iím afraid inevitable) consequence of all this is that my marriage is coming to an end. We both recently consulted solicitors, although we will both be living here for several months. After that, she is planning to start her own career, and hopefully the kids will be staying with me here (though obviously everythingís still a bit up in the air right now).
I canít express how awful I feel at having to do this to her, and believe me, Iím very conscious of the impact this will have on all our lives. However, Iím certain this is the right way for us, and Iím sure that the kids will be able to adapt easily (all the friends Iíve consulted and research Iíve done recently supports this conclusion, though Iím under no illusions about how difficult it will be).
I can certainly understand any reservations you may have about this.
Itís not all bad news though. Acceptance has allowed me to start the process of healing and share who I am and how I feel with those closest to me. In doing so, Iíve become stronger in my faith, much closer to those around me and discovered facets of my personality which have been repressed until now. Iím certainly a better person for it.
I should mention that Iíve been very blessed in that all the friends Iíve discussed this with (including several in our Church and my boss at work) have been incredibly understanding and supportive Ė in fact not one person has condemned or turned their back on me. I pray that will continue, and that you will feel able to join them.
Please call me when youíve had time to think about what Iíve said, and donít be afraid to ask about anything youíre unsure of. I know it will take you some time to come to terms with this (after all, it took me 28 years!), so if you need a bit of time, Iíll understand.
Above all, I canít emphasise enough that in Iím still the same person Iíve always been Ė but now Iím beginning to get the confidence to let my true self be seen. My only regret is that I couldnít have faced this much sooner.
Love and God Bless,
An Open Letter to the Parents, Family and Friends of a
Transsexualism Ė What is it? Help for Families
There are also several support organisations in the UK which might be able to help. If you feel that you need to talk to someone, please let me know and Iíll do what I can.