You’re my mother, but I know I’m an embarrassment to you. I always was, but never more than now. I wonder if you know that other family members have reached out to me privately, with concern and worry. They’ve explained that you talk about me in hushed tones, trying to control who might overhear or learn what happened. But nobody else is ashamed of me or embarrassed. You’re the only one who sees who I am as something to keep hidden.
It hurts that you’ve not made any effort to understand what this means to me. You stay in your ignorant bubble, focusing on what this means for you. Yet I told you 2 years ago, on the night I sent you that letter, that this was overwhelmingly important to me. I asked for your support, but instead you called me selfish and said that the message devastated you.
You ordered me to justify myself while you tried to talk me out of it, eager to return things to normal. When you realised I couldn’t be convinced, you lashed out and told me I wasn’t welcome to stay with the family anymore. You tried to argue that I wasn’t being kicked out, just being told to leave. Although you might be able to tell yourself there’s a difference, to protect your own perception of being a good mother, I just see flimsy semantics. You kicked me out when I needed support the most, that’s the truth.
I thought in time you’d come around – for months I waited.
Last September you invited me to visit. I thought I was coming over for dinner, that I was welcome to stay the night. For the first time that year I was looking forward to eating as a family. Instead, you ambushed me with accusations and demanded answers, you still blamed me for hurting you with what I wrote. I wanted to walk out right then, but I stayed and tried to explain.
I saw how you couldn’t even look at me while I spoke, as you sat with arms tightly folded. I noticed how you rolled your eyes when I gently corrected you on my name. More than anything that night, I remember how rejected and foolish you made me feel for absurdly expecting you’d changed. When it finally became too much for me, I left your house in tears.
I don’t know how long I sat under that tree in the dark, sobbing. I promised myself right there that I would never contact you again, I was going to give up waiting for you to accept me and discard my silly fantasies that we might get along. I scribbled a note in my diary when I finally got home, it was a reminder to never trust you, that you would never change. I wanted to write it while the pain was fresh, before it faded and became replaced with hope again.
I’ve moved on with my life, continued to make new friends and connections, but I still feel the weight of your disappointment. I still think about the hole in my life. Although new maternal figures have looked out for me with kindness, filling the void you left, they’re still not you. You’re still missing.
Despite everything, I forgive you. I want to leave all of our past behind us, recent wounds and older ones too. I don’t care about all the times you’ve upset me, or how I grew up feeling ashamed and abandoned. If we don’t reconcile soon, this is the end. I’m scared one of us is going to die before we forgive each other. I still want a future with you in it, despite how often I’ve been burnt for trying.
But I can’t compromise and do this on your terms. I’ve already lost too many years in doubt and denial because I feared your rejection, the one you painfully delivered just as expected. I won’t pretend for anyone anymore, not even you. I am not that person who you always wanted me to be. You’ve spent my life measuring me up against an imaginary ideal child, but I need you to look at me for who I really am.
I am your daughter, not your son. I know you still haven’t accepted that fact. It hurts to know you want me to go back to pretending, when those years had such a devastating impact on my mental health. You’ve never asked if I’m doing okay but the truth is that I finally am, after years of misery and anger.
By coming out as transgender, I have found happiness for the first time in my life. These last two years have been incredible, I’ve learnt how to open up and be who I really am. Everybody around me has been supportive and happily shifted to respect my new gender presentation and name. You’re the only one left who insists on seeing me as who I used to be, and you’re missing out, both of us are.
If I thought you would listen, I would tell you all of this. But I know there’s no trust between us left, our relationship has eroded to nothing. I already find speaking to you difficult, as we intermittently trade weak snippets of contact, both avoiding the obvious topic of my transition. The idea of bearing my true feelings like this, when you’ve already ignored them, is unfathomable. I don’t think there would be any point in trying, I’ve learnt you don’t want to hear what I need to say.
Instead, I write my feelings here, where you won’t look. The words flow easily because I know they’re safe here. You can’t judge, question or counter what you don’t know I’ve said. But I can’t deny the disappointment of knowing you’ll never hear how I truly feel, because as much as I want to be your daughter, I want you to be my mother too.