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

Outward
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!

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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.

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