After 2 months of writer's block, I finally have my coming out letter to my grandmother written. I'm also going to be using an adapted version of this letter for the rest of my family. This letter doesn't really read like a lot of other coming out letters I've seen, but my Grandma isn't like any other I've ever met. She's in her 90s, but she doesn't show it. She lives by herself, she drives, and - perhaps most importantly for this venture - she has a gay son that she loves and accepts. So I guess I'm not looking for much critique of anything that I said "wrong", I mostly want to know if there's anything important that I left out. By the way, I've censored out a lot of identifying information, I hope it's not too much of a distraction.
Usually letters like this start off with something like "writing this letter is one of the hardest things I've ever done", but, honestly, I know that you're a rational, loving and nonjudgemental person, so the hardest part of this letter has been a case of writer's block, being unsure of the best way to explain things, so I guess I'd better just get on with it.
I am transgender. I know that term still isn't very commonly used, so I'll compare it to the two terms you're probably more familiar with. It's not quite like a transvestite, which is basically a "cross-dresser", and it's not the same as transsexual, which refers to someone who's had a sex-change operation. Being transgender is about identity, not clothes or surgery or relationships. In other words, regardless of any other factors, I identify as female. I know this is probably a big shock, and it's probably one of the strangest things that one of your grandchildren has ever told you, but if you stop to think about it, you can probably put the pieces together. I've never been macho. When I was a kid I liked Strawberry Shortcake, Sweet Valley High and She-Ra. Most of my really close friends have been girls, especially in high school, and I usually connect with them on a "sister" or "girlfriend" level, even though I never called it that before. It's only recently that I've been able to come to terms with who I am inside and finally start finding the real me. This is one of the main reasons I wanted to move to [city name redacted]. I don't think I could have ever come out of the closet as long as I was living in [previous residence redacted], and there is a very strong support community here for people like me. I'm happier than I've ever been, and not only because I love [city], but because I've finally started on a path that I should have started years ago, but I wasn't ready for it yet.
So what does all this really mean?
It means that I dress in women's clothes, wear makeup, and use a wig (the term for this is "presenting"), but it's not really "cross-dressing", because I consider myself a woman, so I'm dressing the way I feel I should be dressing. And there's no need to worry, the managers and co-workers at my job are totally supportive of this. In fact, some of them are outright enthusiastic about it, one of them even bought me a new purse from Bentley as a coming out present.
It means that I am currently undergoing hormone treatments, and over time my outward features will become more and more feminine.
It means that I am going by the name [redacted], and will be getting my name legally changed as soon as it's financially feasible. My full name will be [name and explanation of middle name redacted].
And, yes, it means that some time down the road I will be getting Gender Reassignment Surgery, more commonly known as the "sex-change operation".
I should also explain what it doesn't mean.
It doesn't mean I'm a freak. I'm still the same person I've always been. I'm not into any weird kinky hobbies, I don't go to fetish clubs (I don't even know if there are any in [city] and I don't intend to find out), and most of my transgender friends (who I met through a wonderful support group) are just regular people who have (mostly) regular lives.
It doesn't mean I'm gay. Well, sort of. I never liked guys, and that hasn't changed, so technically I am "gay" since I identify as a woman, and by extension a lesbian. Sorry, you might want to go get a cup of tea while you try to wrap your head around that one.
And, perhaps most importantly, this isn't a phase.
I've known for years that this is who I am. For a long time, it was in the back of my head, but in 1999 I finally started to admit it to myself consciously. After me and [ex-gf I was with for 8 years] broke up, I thought perhaps I could start exploring it, but then me and [ex-wife who's currently my roommate and best friend] got together, and I decided I'd ignore it (again). The reason me and [ex-wife] separated was mostly that I wasn't investing energy or effort in the relationship, but when I came out to her we realized that it was largely because I couldn't be the man she needed.
It was during that month that she was staying with me before she moved to [city]. That was one of the most important things I've ever done, because it was a big factor behind why her and [ex-wife's bf] invited me to move here, and thus I was able to finally start this path. When I was getting ready to move, I wanted more than anything to tell you and the rest of the family, but the time never seemed right, and I eventually realized that I needed to "find myself" a bit more before I could come out to you.
So now I'm back where I started, contrasting my coming out letter with others. Usually at this point I'd be pondering your reaction, hoping that you can still love and accept me for who I am, but that's not a fear for me at all. I know you, and I know that even though this might come as a major shock, you know that I'm still essentially the same person I always was. Well, not completely the same, I'm happier than I've ever been in my life.
This isn't going to be an easy ride, but I know that with your love and support, I'm going to make it.
I beg of you, please comment on the letter as a coming out letter, and don't bother quibbling with me over terminology. I know that a lot of people will disagree with the definitions I gave for the three different "trans-" words, but my research has revealed that, despite accepted clinical definitions, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of agreement over what the different terms mean, so I chose the definitions that would be easiest for my family to grasp, and more importantly would help them get a grip on what's happening in my life.