Dear Grandma and Grandpa,
I’m scared to tell you what I need to. I feel compelled to tell you out of the profound respect I have for the person you sculpted my mother to be and, as a result, formed me to be. You see, I believe it is not without you, that I am who I am. I look at my life and tie overpowering attributes to you.
My ability to be compassionate and accepting of everyone I know I consider to be a trait of Grandma’s. My skillset for striking the match of conversation with complete strangers is inherited from my Grandpa. Yet, with how much of my existence I draw reference from your example, the idea of telling you about my life, I’m still scared. This is not because I doubt your capability for compassion, or because I am not confident in your ability to accept me eventually. Part of me is very confident in the anxiousness clouding my judgement and causing this fear. I am afraid of the “what ifs” that surround the topic we need to discuss. What if you don’t accept me? What if you don’t accept my spouse? What if you judge me, bearing for all the vulnerability I’m experiencing already? What if you disappoint me and I have to make difficult decisions about our relationship? What if the robust statue I’ve built for you in my version of our family history is shattered? What if the story of my life isn’t real?
The foundation of my existence is in the memories I have with you as a child. Grandma, we baked cookies together, Aunt Bernice’s Best, and had tea parties. I distinctly remember the smell of Forest Ranch, the crisp, cold air, pine trees, Lloyd’s cigarette smoke, and love. Grandpa, I don’t know how a childhood can be complete without you telling stories on the porch of The Cabin, watching you fall asleep in a bourbon blanket. There is obvious tension in these memories, yes. We are all human. We are all people. You both raised a daughter as uniquely wonderful and unique as you are. That woman is my mother. She can accept me. I’m scared to tell you my wife is transgender because of the tension this will cause her. The questions she will get are as unique and awkward as the ones I will. How does one explain to their parents their daughter’s spouse is transgender? How does one explain to their grandparents that their spouse is transgender? These questions are not found through the mystery search on Google. Trust me, I’ve looked.
You watched me get married. You came, traveled so far when I didn’t expect you to. You supported me and my husband’s family. You appreciated their truth. You loved me. You loved Kyle. What if you cannot love Katie? What if you cannot understand her? What if, by default, you cannot understand me? I can explain to you why I know this is the path for her, but I’m stll terrified it won’t be enough. I’m scared you will ask me the infamous question: How did you not know?
Again, I fully understand this fear is out of my own insecurity. Some part of me knows that the 2 people who produced the glory that is my mother, the mythical figure that has created me and my sister, will accept this. I have to believe the foundations that created my own acceptance came from somewhere deep in a lineage not yet fully understood. But, what if?
This lengthy statement is to say: my husband is transgender. She goes by Katie now. We are happy. We are healthy. I am a whole, individual human. I am confident in my life choices. I imagine this must be weird for you. Trust me, it’s weird for me too. I hope, with all my heart, you can look past that and love me and my wife anyway.
I love you both more than you could know,