"Coming out," as it is commonly referred to, is something that one must continuously do. There is never a definitive moment regarding one's decision to disclose the fact that they are revealing a hidden identity that can serve as the be all and tell all moment. Coming out of the figurative closet is a never ending process, one that is subject to change, creation, confusion, and much more, as we come to understand certain aspects about ourselves while deciding how we want to portray this image(s) to the world.
A little under two years ago when I was coming out to my own family, I recall dealing with a range of emotions. I remember feeling desperate for a sense of normalcy more than anything. I constantly asked myself, why is this happening to me? Why couldn't I just be born a straight? Why am I dealing with this gay thing that can potentially change everything for the worse? Amongst these self-depleting thoughts were more depreciating opinions I held about the idea of revealing my understood sexuality. I thought that no one would love me, no one would talk to me, no one would listen to me, no one would care about me, no one would sympathize with me, and worse that no one would understand me.
For much of my life, I understood that I was a gay man. To be quite honest I never had fears of my lack of understanding regarding my own sexual lifestyle, instead I knew that I wanted to love other men and be with other men. I knew that certain body parts attracted me whereas the thought of other ones scared me. I knew that when I thought of long term love, family, and life in its holistic form, I often envisioned myself accompanied by a partner with a penis. I knew these things from a very young age, that was never the problem. Instead, what I feared, was how I would be perceived. How would the world interact with me now that it was understood that I am gay? Who would be left to support me in this time of rampant doubt?
"Many people have asked me if you are gay, and I never thought about it because you never told me you were and even if you were I wouldn't care because you're my friend and I love you no matter what," is what you said to me the day I cried to you on the steps, as I told you, my best friend, that I was gay.
YOU made me feel loved, and appreciated, and cared for, and not alone. You pushed me through the door that was self-acceptance and made me realize that I could be whoever I wanted to be, and it no longer mattered what others thought of it. Your words allowed me to see that the thoughts, desires, and actions I had suppressed throughout my life were ok to let loose. You showed me that so long as I could love myself, and surround myself with people who love and support me as well, the rest would fall into place.
"You are such a special individual. You light up the room and know how to make people feel valuable. You are so loving, and caring, and kind, and being gay will change none of this. I have not known you long but I know how dear you are to my daughter. I know what a positive influence you've been in her life. I know how good you make her feel by being a wonderful friend. I do not doubt that like my daughter, everyone will see you for who you really are, a smart and loving gay person who is so comfortable with himself you can't help wanting to know him."
Those are the words your father told me. To follow those amazing words, came weeks and weeks of phone conversations, Facebook messages, and an in-person conversation, which resulted in a more secure Kevin. Your father was an instrumental component in my process to love myself and be the person I am today. Had it not been for your father's ability to make me see the value and worth in choosing to live life the way you want, I would be miserable. I would be lost. Worst of all I would be unhappy. It is for this reason I want to share the same wisdom given to me by your dad, with you.
I remember when your father revealed to me that he was interested in other men. At the time I did not know what to do with this secret. He told me in the hopes that as his daughter's best friend, I would be able to shed light on how his child may or may not perceive him as a man who is interested in other men. I told him that despite his role as your dad, like myself, I had no doubt that his daughter would give him the same kindness, the same presence, the same understanding, and most importantly the same love she had bestowed me a few months prior when I disclosed my sexuality. After self reflection, you did in fact give your dad this support, as I knew you would.
A few months later your father disclosed to me again that he was in fact a she. She told me about the confidence she felt with trusting me with her identity because revealing her sexuality led to her security in acceptance about who she truly is. Amidst my surprise, I gave your father my full support, as she had given me when I needed it. I told her that this time around I could not offer her too much advice because as your parent, I thought it best that she reveal to your her identity as a trans woman. I thought it best because I knew that in the end you would not turn your back on the person who raised you and cared for you and never left you when you needed her. I knew that your kind heart would prevail once more.
However, I see you struggling my dear friend. I see you struggling with who your father is and I am writing to tell you IT IS OK. For your entire life you've held on to this certain image of what your father represents. You know her to be kind. You know her to be a rock star. You know her to be silly. You know her to be forgiving. You know her to be strong. You know her to be dorky. You know her to be compassionate. You know her to be your dad. It is because I know that you hold your father in such high regards that I want to tell you it is now time to give it all back.
I know that a transition is something you are dealing with as the daughter of a trans woman. I know that you did not expect this information to fall into your life, nor did you deserve everything it may bare. I know that you want the easy way out, despite your love for your father. I know that you wish you could hold on to the image you understand to represent your dad. I want to tell you that you most definitely can, but more importantly you NEED to. You must do this for her. For your dad.
Your entire life your father never left you, I know this to be true because you speak so highly of her ad I've come to learn a lot about her myself. So why let society's views dictate what your dad has spent her entire life proving to you? Why let others, if even a little, allow your love for your dad to be morphed into shame or embarrassment because when you look at her you see long hair and a dress and make up in replacement of the jeans and t-shirt you're accustomed to? Why let what others think matter? It doesn't. My dear, those who love you and care about you, like myself, will support EVERY aspect of your life. This includes your dad.
I know that growing up with a certain understanding of what your dad represents being suddenly changed can be hard, possibly even heartbreaking. I know that despite your desperate attempts to support her holistically, you worry that you will never fully be able to accept her identity. However, I also know what is within your capabilities. I know that you are one of the most genuinely compassionate souls I have ever met. I know that this warmth in your personality is inclusive of everyone. I know that you try with everything in you to make those around you feel valued and worthwhile. I know that it hurts to be where you are right now and it is for this reason I urge you to be even stronger, for your dad.
You must give back all the love and kindness your father has given you. In this time, while she is trying to come to terms with what it means to be a woman, nothing will feel more special than her daughter's FULL support. Nothing will feel as magical as knowing that she can be who she is, wear what she wants, acts how she wants, knowing that her baby girl is in her corner. Genuine acceptance is very hard to come by. We seek acceptance from the ones we love. It is what matters to us. It is why you must now make yourself be there for your dad in ways you may not be quite comfortable with.
You've spent a lifetime being amazing, it is because you've had a dad who has put your happiness above all else in order to see his baby girl shine. Isn't it time you put her happiness above all else now so that she can begin to shine too. I know you are trying and I do not mean to denote your progress. I am so proud of you for the way you show consistent support. I just want to tell you that the negativity of the public will never cease unfortunately, but you cannot let it make excuses for the way you deal with your dad's identity.
I know you hold a particular image of your dad. Remember that none of her personality traits have changed and that's all that's matters. Your father is a woman. It does not mean that she isn't your father. It does not mean she is someone different. She is the same person you spent your life getting to know. Do not let society dictate your feelings about the person you've spent your life loving. I am privileged to know your dad and she is one HECK of a woman. Give her the same chance she did you. Show her that the reason she is so amazing is because she raised you.
To my best friend and her trans parent, screw the world, all that matters is you. Live your life and let love dictate.
P.S. your dad is a total babe, she should be on the cover of a magazine!