And since I'm here anyway, I will post a couple letters that have been significant in my own transition.
Here's the letter I sent to my family, telling them about being transgendered for the first time. Names have been shortened to initials and I added the text in the brackets so you all would know who I was talking about.
Mom and Dad,
Being home over February break was really great. It feels like it's been a long time since I've been able to really spend time with everyone. I miss you and think of you all the time when I'm up at school, and I do really appreciate everything that you're doing for me, even though I'm not always good at showing that.
I loved all the things we got to do together the last time I was home. I think that what stands out the most to me is the day I spent shopping with Mom, or maybe the time I spent with G* [my nephew] at the park and aquarium. I wish I could get home more often because I feel like I'm missing out on so much when I'm up here.
I know that we've never really been able to talk easily about some kinds of things, but I've been having a hard time recently because as much as I love you both, and as wondeful as our time together is, I've been feeling like I'm hiding who I really am from you. Mom, I know that over Thanksgiving break we talked some about feelings I've been having about gender, but we weren't able to talk much about what it really means to me, and it's important to me that you understand what's happening with me.
Some of the things I'm going to say might be really hard for you to read, but I hope you know that I'm not trying to upset you or shock you. I also don't want you to feel like I'm forcing this on you or expecting you to accept or support me. It's just really hard for me to feel like I'm being dishonest with you. In some ways I feel like I've already lost you unless I'm telling you the truth about myself. So I guess this letter is meant to help you understand what I'm feeling and where I'm coming from, and to give you more of idea of what my life is like every day.
Maybe the easiest way to start this is to tell you that I don't feel like a girl or a woman. I never really have, and I think that if you look at me and who I've always been, you'll be able to see that too. It took me a long time to be able to say that to myself, it's something that really scared me for a long time. Right now I'm working out for myself what I need to do to be happy with myself.
When I left for college, I felt more free to be myself than I ever had before. I cut my hair short and started dating E* [my first girlfriend], and to you it probably seemed like I was becoming a completely different person, but all I was really doing was trying to find out who I really am.
Last year I met N* [my partner] and my life started changing all over again. She made me happier than I'd been in a really long time and I really started to feel good about myself. Maybe because I was so comfortable with myself and so sure of what I had with her, I was able to start looking deeper into myself. I was ready to really start facing things I'd felt for a long time.
It was so hard for me to tell myself that I wasn't comfortable with who I was. In some ways, the more I started thinking about it, the better I felt about myself, but in other ways I began to feel more and more ashamed. That's when I started reading everything I could get a hold of and talking to people online about being transgendered. I started to feel stronger and more proud of myself, slowly, and I started to talk to N* about what I was feeling.
All of this was happening over the summer, and by the time I got back to school in the fall I was ready to talk to everyone here about what was happening. I'm amazed by the support they've given me. Without N* and my friends, I wouldn't be able to be this strong.
I said that I don't feel like a girl, but I'm not really sure how to explain to you what I do feel like. It's not even easy fro me to understand some of the time, so I'm not expecting it to be clear to you. One of the most important things... the thing that affects me the most, is just feeling uncomfortable in my own body. You might have noticed some changes in me, like that I've been binding my chest to make it look flat. That is something that I do every morning when I get up because it makes me feel so much better about myself. I'd do it even if no one else was there to see me.
I wear only boys clothes all of the time. When I need to get dressed up, I wear a shirt and tie, not a dress. I present myself to the world in all the same ways that any boy my age would, and that feels so good to me. One of the best feelings for me is "passing", or having people I don't know percieve me as a boy. It's like they're seeing me for who I really am, not for what most people would expect me to be because of the way I was born.
The next few things I'm going to write will be very hard for you to accept, but it's important to me that you know them. It's hard for me to be this honest with you, I hope you don't get too upset.
Since I began coming out to friends as being transgendered, there have all been using masculine pronouns, "he" and "him", not "she", when they talk to or about me. Most of the people at school call me KP most of the time, but I also go by Kael, a name I chose for myself because K* [birthname] really doesn't fit who I am anymore. I am seriously considering getting my name changed legally soon, but I would like to have your support before I do that.
I think about things like having surgeries and going on hormones to change my body every day. If I could have things any way I wanted them and not have to worry about anything else, I would love to have surgery to get rid of my chest right away. I am so ashamed of it, and binding every day is very painful, but not as bad as not binding and having it stick out and always remind me that it's there. It doesn't even feel like it's a part of my body and I just wish it were gone.
I want how I look on the outside to match how I feel on the inside. I wish I looked like other boys my age. I know that deciding to go through with this kind of thing means that I'd be risking losing the most important thing in my life, my family. That scares me more than anything in the world right now. I'm not rushing into anything as far as making decisions about hormones and surgery, but I want and need your support as I go through this.
Maybe my life would have been a lot easier if I'd been born a boy, but I'm proud of who I am and everything I've done to make it here. I need to thank you for always letting me be myself and encouraging me to go after what I want. I think I'm a good, strong person, and I always try to do the right things. I don't want you to feel like you're losing me. I love you both so much and I'm just trying to make things right for myself. I know it might be a hard path but I'm ready to take it on. If you're willing, I want you to be with me along the way.
Thank you for everything, I love you,
And here is the therapist's letter to my doctor reccommending me for HRT:
March 11, 2003
[my doctor's name and address]
Dear Dr. L****:
It is my pleasure to write this letter in support of Kael P**** who is requesting consultation regarding male hormone therapy for transition from female to male. Mr. P**** presents a clear clinical case of Gender Identity Disorder as outlined in the DSM-IV of the APA
Mr. P**** has not been in formal counseling with me regarding this issue, but I have worked with him as a colleague at [workplace] for one year. During that time, I have known him to be extremely well integrated mentally and socially. We have discussed the gender issue at length.
From a mental health perspective, I fully support Kael's desire to undergo gender reassignment. He and I will meet as needed for the foreseeable future.
Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions.
With continued high regard and gratitude for your work, I am [therapist's name]
[name and signature]