Hello, I'm going to call this "A Very Special SSL Post" because it is not about the things this blog is normally about. This is a letter my sister, Melissa, wrote on Facebook (Here is the original post. Please Share it!). I'll let you read it, but I just want to say I'm posting it here because I'm proud of her, of her husband/my brother from another mother Jason, of my niece Olivia and her brothers and sister, and I think their story could be useful to others. There's a lot of talk about transgender people right now and it gets wrapped in with Hollywood, and money and fame, and all these things people already have really strong feelings about, but I think this brings things back into perspective. I think even very progressive and liberal people are still quite uneducated and have uncomfortable feelings about some things trans, so we could all use a little learning and growing. So without further ado, here is my sister's post (a sister I feel very lucky to have, btw):
So here it is Facebook friends...I need to make a public announcement because I often see many of you out – at Target or Meijer or at a kid’s game, and I don’t want there to be an awkward, uncomfortable moment next time we see each other out with our families. Plus, we want to share and celebrate our experience with you because some of you might be in or know people in similar situations, and there is strength in numbers.
So, 13 years ago Jason and I did not find out the gender of our 1st born. We waited to be "surprised" - William for a boy, Olivia for a girl, and 'Wilivia' before we knew. Will was born in March of 2002, and we were so happy to have our little guy. Through the years I knew there was something special about Will - I just couldn't put my finger on it. Well, it turns out Jason and I were wrong. We did not have a boy all those years ago. We had a funny, bright, creative and amazing GIRL - yes a daughter. Olivia is the name we should have chosen. She told her father and I almost a year ago, and although we didn’t know exactly what to do or how to start, we knew we loved her, and we knew she needed us to hear her. We can’t tell you how proud and happy we are that she was brave enough to tell us.
Our child is transgender and always has been. This year we have been preparing to introduce Olivia, and we’re excited that she will start her 8th grade year much more comfortable in her own skin. We have told many friends and family members, and they have all been incredibly supportive. We have informed the middle school administration where my children attend, and they are also incredibly supportive. She has even informed a lot of her friends and they too have been super supportive and loving, and not just the female friends, her male friends too. Olivia’s sister and brothers are excited and happy for her and have been standing fully beside her in this. Their journey with her in these first years may not always be an easy one, but they are prepared for that, and we feel all 4 of our kids will be able to handle anything with family and friends behind them.
The truth is suicide rates for transgender people are very high. The confusion, pain and loneliness of their unique situation can simply become too much for a person to carry on their own. However, if a transgender child has support at home, the suicide rates drop significantly. We want to reiterate that because we’ve not only witnessed the positive transformation in our child over this year, but we have been able to meet, talk with and befriend numerous transgender adults, children and parents. They have shown us how very wonderful they are and how very powerful support can be in a transperson’s life. I have so much love and respect for all of the transgender friends we have met this year. Whether they transitioned at 5 or 55 they are all lovely and brave. Is this transition going to be hard at times? Yes, but the happiness and joy we see now that our daughter finally gets to express herself as the person she has always been is amazing, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Jason and I are extremely hopeful that today's children are much more understanding and inclusive, and we are also hopeful that people who are confused or worried or uneducated about the topic (which is a lot of us) will try to understand, to talk about it, and to educate themselves. We are also here if you have any questions.
If you are one of our beautiful and amazing supporters who already know about Olivia, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You don’t know how much that means. If you just found out, and you know Olivia - maybe she went to school with your child or used to play baseball with them – I know this is a lot to take in, but we are hopeful you will try to understand. There are several links below for more information.
This is not what we were expecting 13 years ago when we welcomed Will into our lives, and we are not perfect parents, but we do know that the changes our family is making are for the best. We are now proud and excited to be welcoming Olivia into our lives, the same lovely person we have always known but happier, more at ease, and without the weight of the world on her shoulders.
So, maybe we are friends through our children, coworkers, old or new neighbors, or maybe we haven't seen each other since we graduated from high school, but thank you for listening. Our hope is that this post will allow people time to become comfortable with the idea before our families happen to meet randomly at Target or you see Olivia at her brother’s baseball game. We also hope that this might give comfort to those dealing with similar issues and pause to those whose words or actions might be hurtful to or intolerant of trans people. Thanks friends!
|Me and a happy Ms. Olivia just about 13 years ago. Like her mother and I before, she was pretty much bald for the first 2 years of her life.|