How to Tell Aunt Esther That Her Niece Is Now Her Nephew

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
June 16 2014 12:20 PM

How to Tell Aunt Esther About Your Child’s Gender Transition

transbodiesselves

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, edited by Laura Erickson-Schroth, is an enormous—650 large-format pages—new resource for transgender people, their families, friends, and anyone with questions about what it means to be trans. The book covers medical, legal, psychological, political, and cultural aspects of the transgender experience and includes intensely practical information like this sample letter parents can send to family and friends to inform them about their child’s transition.

Dear Family,

We have some big news to share, so we thought it best to write you personally. Our child, who you know as Lacey, has shared since she was two or three years old that she feels she is a boy. Not that she wants to act like a boy or play boy games, but she feels like she was born a boy. We have, in fact, learned we are not the parents of a little girl, but the parents of a little boy. Through long and careful exploration, discussion, prayer, therapy, family talks, and careful self-reflection, we have come to understand this new truth. We are proud and excited to introduce a new but old member of our family, Justin!

Advertisement

Justin, as he is now known by everyone in our neighborhood and school, is living full time as a boy. He is unbelievably happy and comfortable about this big change and so are we. As you are a very important part of our lives, we decided to also share this truth with you.

We understand this may be confusing. In the beginning, we too felt confused. For years now Justin has told us how he feels inside with the words he knew.

There is plenty of information available about transgender children—we invite you to explore this information as we have. There is quite a bit of information on the Internet. There are also several good books on the subject. We recommend The Transgender Child and Gender Born, Gender Made.

We request you welcome Justin fully as part of our family. Please refer to Justin only with male pronouns (he, him) and by his name, Justin. Despite any personal reservations you may have, we expect and hope you will be fully welcoming, respectful, and kind to Justin. All the experts we have consulted on this subject agree this is the right approach for maintaining Justin’s mental health and happiness long term. Transgender kids are much more prone to suicide, depression, and self-harm when they don’t have the support and love of their family.

If you are no longer able to treat our child with complete respect, we will decline further contact until that changes. Regardless of religious belief, all of us as parents want our children happy and safe. Our friends, community, and Justin’s school have been extremely helpful and supportive. Our love and support for Justin is complete. We hope yours will be also. We love you all so much and miss you.

The Johnsons

Reprinted from Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community with permission from Oxford University Press USA. © Oxford University Press, 2014.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The Feds Have Declared War on Encryption—and the New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You

It spreads slowly.

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Activists Are Trying to Save an Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?