A Trans Woman’s Open Letter to Her Dad

Hi Dad,

It is time to address the last sticking point in my transition. I don’t need to remind you that I am making the single biggest step in this journey in three weeks (and yes, I’m absolutely certain). If required, I will go into greater detail, but you don’t want that and I’m not excited to have to.

I need you to start using my name and the proper pronouns when speaking to me. I know it’s hard and not what you want to do, but it’s been three years, and your refusal to use it privately telegraphs to your usage publicly – it’s happened on numerous occasions. I may not be overtly depressed anymore, but I assure you it hurts, for as much as I try to brush it off. You and your wife are the only people who ever use that other name to my face now, and she just does it to disrespect me. She’s just a miserable homophobic and transphobic Midwesterner, and should not serve as any kind of example for your own behavior.

This boils down to two simple points. First, it is necessary for my mental health. Whatever you think of mental health issues, mine or anyone else’s, they are very real, and mine even more so. As someone who once doubted the veracity and extent of some of these, like I did with my ex at times, I promise you now that I’ve experienced and recognize them, they are very real. Second, this is a matter of respect. You might not see it that way, but this refusal is, to me, a sign that because you disagree with this, or see it as a choice of some sort, you feel it is not worthy of your respect, and that translates to not respecting me.

If you need to talk to someone else for help on this in understanding it from a parent’s perspective, I’m sure my friend’s parents would be willing to sit down with you – they have more experience with it, and they are very supportive to her. There are other resources, too, like PFLAG and online resources like this: https://www.genderspectrum.org/child-family/resources

This picture included below is of a trans woman and her mother – the young woman is in the hospital recovering from her surgery. I need to feel that kind of support from you, not the feeling of hesitance and shame I get now. By comparison, my very dear friend, my adopted “Jewish mommy,” or “ima shelee” offered to come with me if it weren’t for the High Holidays and her own responsibilities with her daughter, family, and work. I will be fine on my own, and I don’t expect anyone to put their life on hold and babysit me, but just knowing that support is there is something that means a great deal to me.

Take some time, and write back.


– Katie

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