“We Can’t Be Patient Forever.” Trans Person Finds Joy & Community After Cutting Ties with Family

by SJ

I’m SJ. I’m from Dallas, Texas. 

I grew up in a house where it wasn’t really normal for us to talk about our feelings. That was really difficult for me. As a child, I kind of learned to just bottle things up. 

When I was young, I developed depression and anxiety as a result of not really being able to talk about my feelings. As I was kind of starting to realize that I was queer when I was in college, I came out to some of my friends and they were accepting. 

And so when I was a senior in college, I decided that I wanted to come out to my mom. I was actually studying abroad at the time I was living in Costa Rica, so I was walking around the city that I was living in in Costa Rica, and I came back home and I kind of decided, “This was the time to do it.” And so I ended up writing her an email because the cell service wasn’t great where I was living. 

So much was going through my mind. I was anxious, but I was excited because this huge key part of who I am was finally going to be revealed to her, and I was hoping that it was going to go well. And I kind of shared a little bit of my fears that I was afraid of how she would react to it. 

After a few days of silence from her after sending that email, I was pretty scared and pretty worried. And then finally she emailed me back. 

She was like, “Your life is never going to be easy. I’m mourning the loss of the person I thought you were,” and basically, “I don’t want to talk about this again.” That was really, really difficult for me. 

And so a lot of my friends at the time, I went to them for advice and they were saying, you know, “She’ll come around eventually.” 

So I waited and waited. I tried to be patient, years ended up passing. I watched my sisters bring home boyfriends, and everyone kind of showered them with attention, and I wasn’t ever really able to share my partners with my family, and that was really, really difficult for me. And so I kind of started to distance myself from them. I started coming home less and kind of decided to start keeping them at an arm’s length. 

Then I started seeing a therapist right before the pandemic to help me work through my relationship with my parents, specifically. And I learned coping mechanisms and how to set boundaries, and I tried to do all of these things, but nothing was really working. 

And so my therapist at one point mentioned if I’d ever thought about ceasing contact with my parents as an option. Initially I was just like, “Whoa. I didn’t even think about that being an option, and I don’t even want to entertain it.”

My therapist at one point mentioned if I'd ever thought about ceasing contact with my parents as an option.

So after toiling over this decision for a really long time and really thinking through all of my fears about it, I realized that it was something I had to do. I couldn’t continue to keep going the way that I was, and that I –  it was something that there wasn’t really another option for. I needed to go through with this, and I needed to do it.

At the time I was living in DC, it was the very beginning of the pandemic, and I got my laptop out and I started to craft letters to my mom and also to my dad, who I’m not really in contact with anyway, but I did feel like I needed to fully cease contact with him as well. 

So I sat down to write these emails, these emails that seemingly were impossible to word correctly, but I was able to kind of put all of my feelings into them, but also explain what this all meant, and also be really clear with them about my boundaries for them not contacting me. 

So after I send the email, I get a response from my mom, and of course she’s upset, but I decide I don’t want to respond to it. It’s not something that I want to spend my energy on at that point in time, so I don’t respond to her, and I never receive a response from my dad.

After sending the emails, I didn’t immediately feel this sense of calm or relief that I anticipated I might feel. I kind of just felt numb. But over the next few months, I began to feel relief. I came out as trans in a way that I never could have if I still was in contact with my parents. I changed my name and my pronouns. I had top surgery. I started hormones, and I was finally living as my true self fully in my life. 

So a few months later, I had a birthday party at a local brewery and a bunch of my friends showed up. 

I was like, “Wow, this is such an amazing situation that I’ve found myself in with all these amazing queer and trans people around me.” And I would’ve never probably had the opportunity to build such an amazing chosen family without having done this really hard thing. 

As queer people and as trans people we’re expected to be patient for a lot of things, for rights, for all kinds of different things, for acceptance. We can’t be patient forever. You have to put yourself first, always. And that’s something that I learned from this experience is this is such a hard thing for me to do, such a hard decision. It wasn’t made lightly, but also that it was probably the greatest gift and biggest act of love I could have ever given to myself.


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