This is a letter that Crystal wrote to her parents
To my dearest parents,
What I am about to say is quite possibly the hardest thing I will ever have to say to you all. Before you read any further, please sit down and open you mind. This is hard for me to say, but you are my family; the people I am closer to than any others in this world, so it is important for me to be honest with you.
Before I continue, I want to say that I love and respect both of you with all my heart, even if I don't always seem to act that way. You have made incredible sacrifices and done incredible things to ensure that my brother and I grow up happy, well educated, and most importantly, loved, and that filled me with an incredible sense of awe that I can't even begin to put into words. I don't imagine I could have had a better upbringing than the one you have provided me with, and I only pray that someday I can be half as a good a parent as either of you.
Unfortunately, that same love and admiration I have for you is what makes it so difficult to say what I must. You are very intelligent people, of that much I have no doubt, and I know that by know most of you have noticed that I am not what one would call a "normal young man." At this point, you have probably guessed my reason for writing, so I'll stop beating around the bush: While physically I am male, in my mind and in my soul I am a young woman.
I've known this for quite some time. Some of earliest memories I have from childhood (circa 4-5 years old) feeling a bit "off" about myself. These feelings followed me throughout my childhood as I slowly began to piece more and more of it together. I finally put everything together just as puberty was beginning for me; I'm not sure if the new experiences I underwent at that point helped me draw me to this conclusion, or if it was just a horrible twist of irony (something I am prone to, it seems).
This triggered what I can only describe as the worst years of my life, when I found it impossible to relate well to anyone else. I felt like some kind of monster, like I was insane or going through some kind of strange phase, and if I just tried to act normal and ignore it, it would all go away one day. I can't honestly recall how many times I cried myself to sleep over those years, praying to every god I had ever heard of that I could just wake up and be normal, one way or another. I know these years were hard for the two of you, as well, and I remember in great detail how upset you seemed about it all and everything you did to try and make me feel better; And while I was too ashamed of my real problem to ever tell you, I want you to know that the love and attention you gave me when I needed it most has made all the difference.
I won't sugar-coat it for you: I was depressed for these years. Very depressed. I contemplated heavily on solving everything quickly by taking my life. I still have nightmares about it. I couldn't though; Not because I didn't want to, but because I remembered my family, especially my loving mother and father. I couldn't put you through all that pain just to make myself "happy". To put it simply: My love for outweighed the hatred I felt for myself, and I hope you can understand just how significant that is.
I moved on from hatred and denial to a sort of accepting (but nonetheless ashamed) state early in high school. Once I worked past the majority of my darker emotions, I began to develop my stunted social skills and make new friends (mostly female, as I discovered I had a far easier time relating). I had a fairly normal freshman and sophomore year, trying to hide my true feelings from everyone, including myself, and still hoping I'd grow out of it.
I don't know when it finally happened, but at some point, I came to realize that my "problem" wasn't just a phase, that it was a part of who I was, and unless I wanted to spend the rest of my life miserable and hating myself, I would have to not only accept the side of myself I was afraid and embarrassed of, I would have to embrace it. It was a strange discovery, to say the least, but after making it, I felt like an incredible weight had been lifted from my spirit. During my Junior year, and especially during my Senior year, thanks to the help of my extraordinary friends (both students and teachers), I truly began to grow and understand myself. I learned to like myself for who and what I was.
When graduation finally came around, I was prouder than I had ever been before. I had graduated as valedictorian of my class, an honor in and of itself, but more than that, it proved to me that I wasn't a waste, and that everything my mother and father had invested in me for the past eighteen years hadn't been wasted simply because I was born different. I didn't say everything I wanted to in my speech, but I said what I thought was important, and I cried while I was up there, partially because I was so scared, and partially because I was so happy.
Then college rolled around. This was my "acid test". The grand experiment I had been planning since I finally learned to accept myself. I began attending college as a young woman. I was so terrified during orientation, but I soon settled in to my life. I made friends quickly, and before long, I had a new life built for myself. Now, after two years of my new life, I must admit that I feel like I've lived more like this in two years than I did for ten years trying to hide who I was. To simplify: I'm happy like this, and I know for sure now that this is how I'm suppose to be.
Now that I've tried to explain my situation as best I can, I'd also like to share some general information and try to clear up popular misconceptions:
First and foremost: This is NOT your fault. I don't know how to stress this enough. There is absolutely nothing that anyone out there could have done to have caused (or prevented) this. You two did a good job raising me, a damn good job. You were (and still are) caring and compassionate. You put mine and my brother's needs before your own repeatedly. You taught me right from wrong, how to love, and that anything worth doing is worth doing right. I don't think it would be possible for me to have had a better mother and father, and I only pray that one day I can do half as good a job raising my own children. My current condition is what's referred to as Gender Dysphoria, which means my intellectual and emotional self is a different gender than my physical body. In my mind, I think of it as a sort of shipping mistake; I have a beautiful soul, it was just put in the wrong box. If you want a more scientific explanation, the current theory is that all embryos start out as female, emotionally and physically, and at some point during development, some are washed over with hormones that trigger changes in the body and reprogram the brain (this much is known to be 100% accurate); however, in some cases, there is a mistake, and not enough hormones are released, only enough to change either the body (resulting in males who are intellectually and emotionally female, like myself) or mind (resulting in females who are intellectually and emotionally male).
Second, I am not gay, and this is not an expression of being gay. Gender and Sexual Preference are two totally separate things that the popular media all-to-often confuses. And while we're on the subject of media, do not take anything you have ever seen on talk shows (especially Jerry Springer) as knowledge on actual transsexuals. Those people, most of whom are probably just paid actors, are NOT an accurate reflection of this community of people; more like an embarrassment to it. We're ordinary, everyday woman who have simply have had to overcome a rather unique hurdle. We are not cross dressers (men who wearing women's clothes because they like it). We are not trasnvestites (men who wear women's clothes because it's a sexual turn-on). We are not drag queens. We do NOT strut around in day-glow latex dresses, platform boots, wearing bright blue eye-shadow signing "It's Rainging Men" (it actually makes me a little sick to think about it). I don't even own any latex clothing, and I go to classes and hang out with my friends wearing jeans and T-shirts, just like 85% of the other girls on campus.
Third, this is not an optional thing. It's not as if I can just "dress up" on weekends or something. Even when I dress down to come home and visit I feel horrible, nagging pain in the back of my mind, like I'm lying to you and to me. That simply isn't who I am, it's not how I act, and it is most certainly not how I want to live. My greatest regret is that I don't know how to put into words just how this feels, or why I can't (heck, even I'd like to know myself, lord knows my life would be a lot simpler if I could).
I suppose at this point, I'd also like to mention why I decided to put something this personal and important in a letter, which some people no-doubt see as a bit impersonal. Well, first of all, I may be the only one who's noticed this, but I have got a LOT of family; Trying to call you one-by-one to tell you would cost a fortune, not to mention take a week or more. Secondly, I am a bit more eloquent in my writing than I am in my speaking, and being able to say exactly what I mean is very important in a situation like this. Finally, I'm writing because, well? I'm afraid. This is a major issue; something that will change your opinions of me permanently. I am terrified that some of you may never speak to me again because you think that what I'm doing is wrong, and while I pray that that doesn't happen, the fear remains. By sending a letter, I can't back out at the last possible second, or try to change the subject, or constantly stumble over my words. Perhaps most importantly, in a letter, I can make sure that I say everything I need to without forgetting anything in the panic of the moment.
So, by now, you may be curious how this affects you. Well, emotionally, it affects you a hell of a lot, but beyond that it doesn't affect you a great deal. I'm still the same person inside, I'm simply acting a little more like myself now and changing my outside to match what's inside. I'm essentially the same person, so there's not too much to adapt to (and be honest, you knew something like this was coming; as I mentioned above, this is a pretty bright family). One thing to get used to will be that I've decided to change my name to Crystal --- --- (yes, that's two middle names). I decided on Crystal several years ago because it's a name that I've always loved. --- simply because that's what everyone in the family is used to calling me, and because it isn't a bad name. Finally, I chose --- because despite the fact that it's a fairly silly name, it's what I would've been named had I been born right; besides, as middle names go, --- is better than some. As far as what to call me, I don't have any problems with "---".
Well, I suppose that that is all I really needed to say for right now. One thing that I feel I should add, though, is that I love you dearly, and that I hope you can accept this, and even if you can't, I ask that you at least lend me your emotional support. I understand that this is not an easy thing to hear, but it is also not an easy thing to say or live through. You are my family, my closest family, and I don't want to loose you, but I can't simply repress who and what I am. So please, think this over carefully. I realize I haven't covered everything you might want to know, so please write or call me if you need to know anything more, or just to let me know that you're alive. Even if you'll never speak to me again because of this, at least let me know that much.
I still want to be a part of this family. I am terrified of when I will have to come face-to-face with all of you. I've forcibly removed isolated myself more and more from you because of the guilt I've been feeling over keeping this from you, and I would like to be closer again now that it's out, but at the same time, I understand if you need time to sort this out for yourself. I don't know how you will react when we come face-to-face again, or even how I will. I do know that I am right, though, and I know down to the very core of my being that I am a woman inside.
I love you early, even if we may never speak again,
Crystal --- --- ---
PS: I know this is a hard thing to deal with, so I've put together a small list of web pages on the internet with legitimate information on the subject. Please at least look them over. And for the love of god, don't simply go to a search engine and type in "transsexual"; you don't want to see what you get from that.
The Antijen List: http://www.antijen.org/
The Transsexual Women's Resource: http://www.annelawrence.com/index.html (this one is especially good)
PFLAG Homepage: http://www.critpath.org/pflag-talk/index.html