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!

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

The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

Are the Attacks in Canada a Sign of ISIS on the Rise in the West?

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Is It Offensive When Kids Use Bad Words for Good Causes?

Fascinating Maps Based on Reddit, Craigslist, and OkCupid Data

Culturebox

The Real Secret of Serial

What reporter Sarah Koenig actually believes.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea

Can Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Pull Off One More Louisiana Miracle?

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 23 2014 1:51 PM Is This the ISIS Backlash We've Been Waiting For?
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 23 2014 2:36 PM Take a Rare Peek Inside the Massive Data Centers That Power Google
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Oct. 23 2014 1:34 PM Leave Me Be Beneath a Tree: Trunyan Cemetery in Bali
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 3:23 PM This Is What Bette Midler Covering TLC’s “Waterfalls” Sounds Like
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:45 AM The United States of Reddit  How social media is redrawing our borders. 
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.