My Holiday Gift Was Being Welcomed As My Authentic Self

My Holiday Gift Was Being Welcomed As My Authentic Self

I knew this holiday season was going to be one to remember, but little did I know it would be the best one yet as I was called Ian from some relatives.

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I never told my family I was going to start testosterone, I just started it on my own. I did not want to be questioned or talked out of something that had been on my mind for a while nor did I feel comfortable talking about injecting myself with testosterone. Recently I have had a hard time looking family in the face due to the greater deal of acne, the small peach fuzz, and the deepening of my voice. Of course, this makes me happy, but these apparent physical changes had me anything but confident when approaching my family this holiday because they did not know of my changes in person.

Although my family and I have always been close, I have been keeping my identity a secret for the sake of disappointment. The sake of being the only daughter. The sake of changing my name, a name I very much loved to another name that suited me well now. There have been countless thoughts about my identity in regard to my family and how they think. Thus, I was unsure if I could look anyone in the eyes this season as I have a small stache growing on my upper lip.

As I am not going to mention any of my family members names, I do know the thoughts certain family members have expressed of me transitioning when I wrote my "coming out" letter. I did not see all of my family this year because of their views. Thus, while it might have been too much of a shock for them, it too was a shock to see some of their reactions. Thus, when starting my transition back in August, I decided to keep the weekly testosterone shots to myself except for the occasional Instagram or Snapchat posts.

Christmas Presents -Ian

As the festivities began this year, I was filled with excitement as I was handed Christmas presents. I was not excited because I had presents, but I was excited for how the presents were labeled. As the presents were sitting under the tree this year, I saw them labeled as "Erin", however when being handed the presents to open on Christmas, I saw that some had new labels with "Ian" on them. I held in my emotions as I was the last person to open my presents. I took it in and when asked "what I was doing?" I responded with "keeping the labels, its my first Christmas as Ian".

However, this year I was welcomed with arms wide open from some of my family members and for them, I am so overjoyed and thankful. This Christmas taught me to focus on the family members that are supportive and accepting now. The friends and the "family" I have made because family does not have to be blood related. I cannot change the way some of my family think, but I am very fortunate to have some family that want to see me happy. Does it hurt knowing parts of my family and I cannot speak knowing our differences? Or that I cannot be open or myself around them? Yes, of course. But, I am so happy for the family and friends I have to date. So, being called "Erin" or "she" this holiday season was alright because I know it is a process. It is a change and change takes time. So, something as simple as acknowledging my presence was enough for me as I know not everyone within the LGBTQ community receives that during the holiday season. So from my family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

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A Letter To My Best Friend On Valentine's Day

Because you are my ultimate Valentine.
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To my beautiful best friend,

Warning: This letter is about to get extremely cheesy. I am talking four cheese lasagna cheesy. But no one deserves a love letter like this more than you do.

This Valentine’s Day, I want to express my love for you. On this wondrous occasion with which most people express their love to their significant other, I want to tell you, my best friend, how much I cherish our friendship.

SEE ALSO: A Valentine's Day Love Letter To My Girl Best Friends

You are the ultimate love of my life. Boys have come and gone but you remain a constant; for that I am grateful. You have been there for me when my family could not be; for that I am grateful. You have been my backbone, my rock, and all those other clichés people use to describe the people they care about, and yet you have been so much more than that as well; for that I am grateful.

All my love this Valentine’s Day goes out to you, my friend, because you do not receive it enough. You have picked me up out of the dirt, brushed me off, and kissed my wounds more times than I can count, and I will never be able to thank you enough for that, but I am sure am going to try.

Thank you for the midnight cries. Thank you for the midnight laughs. Thank you for ordering way too much food with me and still just eating it all. Thank you for the advice, both solicited and unsolicited. Thank you for telling me what I need to hear, even when it isn’t what I want to hear. Thank you for the silly pictures. Thank you for the stupid inside jokes. Thank you for making bad decisions with me. Thank you for laughing with me and laughing at me. Thank you for the endless memories.

SEE ALSO: An Open Letter to the Best Friend I've Ever Had

More than anything, I want you to know that I love you. I love you. You are the family I get to choose, the one I go to when I have nowhere else to turn. You are the one I know I can always run to, whether we saw each other yesterday or haven’t seen each other in a year. You have played a part in molding who I am as a person, and I am so grateful for having such an amazing person affecting my life in such a positive way.

With all the love in my heart,

Your friend
Cover Image Credit: https://www.facebook.com/natalie.pederson.5/photos

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Blood Doesn't Determine Family

Blended families are just as much of a family as a traditional one.

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If you look above, you can see that have a very large family on my mother's side. Between my grandparents, aunts and uncle, cousins and my own immediate family, we're at thirty-three members and counting. All branches of our family tree have busy lives, so we don't get to see each other as much as often as we would hope to. Christmas is the one time a year where we all finally get together for the evening. If you sat in on our holiday party, you may think that we have a couple screws loose, but there is no doubt that you would be able to feel the love radiating from room to room.

If you look at the picture I chose for my header, you can see all of the cousins gathered for our yearly picture. Dysfunctional, of course, but you can tell that love is there. Would it surprise you that out of our entire huge family, less than half of us are blood-related?

I come from a blended family, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Blood does not determine family to us. Love does.

Divorce can be a messy thing, especially when children are involved. Both my aunt and uncle had remarried into relationships that already had children. For the most part, none of us can really ever remember a time when we weren't considered family. We don't ever look at each other as not being related. We never will. Family to us is the love and support that is shared unconditionally between us.

As I said, you would never be able to tell we weren't blood-related unless I told you. Not only do we all look similar to one another (which again is odd, because if the marriages had never taken place, we would just have a ton of doppelgangers running around), but the love and passion that we radiate is unmistakable that we have a bond that will never be broken, let alone determined by biology.

Blended families tend to get a bad rap sometimes from some of the horror stories that can come from second marriages. Not only that, but some people still are stuck in the idea that the only socially acceptable type of family is one where the lineage is clear and concise. Although I can see where these people come from, I don't believe that because there is a lack of shared genetics between all of us, our love is any less strong.

Family is those who will answer a call or text late at night because you need someone to talk to. They're the ones that you end up staying at their house and talking for hours when you meant to make a quick trip in. They are there for you no matter the situation and always believe in you one hundred percent.

Traditional families have a lot of love too, undoubtedly. But please, do not tell me that my family is any less of a family of a family because of its makeup. We have just as much love between us as families with the same bloodline. Blood does not determine the amount of love and affection between all of us. It never will. We will love each other as much as a traditional family. We never look at each other as a mixed family, so please stop treating us as such.

I've said it so many times, but I'll remind you once more. Blood does not determine family, love does-- and I love my family more than life itself.

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