Open Letter to My Family

This letter was written by a friend who is going through many of the same problems that I am. I wish I had written it.

To My Family,

Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. I agree with that and would add that the life lived that is not self-fulfilling and self-realizing is also not worth living.

As you may or may not know about me, I try to live my life as honestly, openly and self-congruously as possible. To that end I am now writing this letter, and I apologize if it's more information than you wanted but I don't know how else to talk about it.

All my life I've known that I was different somehow, perhaps different in many ways. Some differences I've been more aware of, other differences I've perhaps had some awareness of at times, but mostly they were just seriously repressed. Often I didn't really have a good understanding of what I felt and how I felt about myself, even who I was. It's only been in the last ten years or so that I've really started to deeply examine myself and come to a better understanding of who I am. And it's only been in the last couple of years that I've really started to accept who I am.

I am a transsexual; transsexualism being defined as making changes to one's body such that it more closely represents the gender identity one was born with. The gender I believe I was born with is largely female.

In my case that means I am taking female hormones which is resulting in breast growth, some redistribution of body fat, a reduction in muscle mass and other small changes. I will not be having sexual reassignment surgery. Without Terry, I might consider surgery, but without Terry's support I wouldn't have the strength or courage to do what I'm now doing. And I wouldn't even consider the possibility of losing Terry.

Being TS (transsexual) does not necessarily mean being homosexual. I never have been nor am I now at all sexually attracted to men. I love women and always have, particularly Terry.

There are no clear cut reasons or causes for transsexualism, but it's certainly not anybody's "fault." I didn't choose this and wouldn't if I had a choice. The only choice I have is in how I deal with it. I could stay unhappy, depressed, not accepting of myself, slowly self-destructing, or I could embrace being TS, live with the consequent problems and be happy with myself and my life. The more I consider it though, the more I realise how little choice I have in how I respond, either. As it is now, aside from current financial problems, this is the happiest I've been my whole life.

I am really no different from whom I've always been. My interests are basically no different. I still like to cook, still like to watch football, still like to lift weights and still hate romance novels. I am still a libertarian/anarchist. My fashion sense hasn't changed although I now have a different wardrobe and appear somewhat different. I expect that for some of you this may come as quite a shock, for others it may not be a big surprise, for a few it's something you already know. For me, at some level of consciousness, it's something I've known my whole life.

Your response and reaction to this is entirely your own. I would like love and acceptance but I expect nothing. If you choose to disown me or if I'm no longer welcome in your home or at family gatherings, then I can understand and live with that. I love you all and will continue to do so irrespective of your response. Feel free to still consider me as a male relative (father, son, brother, brother-in-law, SOB, etc) if you want. My preference would be otherwise and would be to be called Kris or Kristine. To Terry, however, I am and always will be Chris.

Terry and I are still very much in love. Here is how she feels about the whole thing:

"To put it simply: I love Chris. (To me he will always be 'Chris' because that's how I've known him for the past 36 years and it's a little too late to start calling him 'Kris.' :-)

"And loving him, I love to see him happy, and this makes him happy, therefore, it's fine with me. The only caveat I have, and I have told him so, is that I don't want him to have the reassignment surgery. I would still love him if he did, and I would support him if he chose to, but I could not stay married to him if he did, so it would necessarily change the whole dynamic of our relationship. You see, I like men, and I like sex, and that would kind of negate that aspect of our relationship.

"What I love about Chris is not the way he dresses; therefore, how he dresses makes no difference to me. What I love about him is his spirit — his soul, if you will. He is a loving, open, generous, intelligent human being who is always questioning the world to see how and where he fits into it, or doesn't. I never know what he is going to do next, and that keeps me on my toes and makes me stretch my thoughts and question my world view, something I'm not sure I would do on my own. So, I hold on tight with both hands and get whirled away on the ride of a lifetime, and I'm looking forward to many more years of ups and downs and not a few sideways feints and loop-da-loops. Life with Chris is always an adventure."

The bottom line for me is that this is important enough to me that I'm willing to lose friends and family over this. This is my life and it is I who must live the balance of it. I've lived 50 years trying to meet the expectations of others and now it's time that I live my life as I've seen it my whole life. I can't begin to tell you how hard this is for me, the implacable need to go forward and do this, and the strong desire to not hurt, disappoint, and lose those people that I love. Last night I cried myself to sleep over this.

The wonderful writer Anais Nin seems to have written just the words that explain where I'm at: "And the day came when it was more difficult to stay in the bud then it was to blossom."

I am quite willing to respond or answer questions if you'd like to call or e-mail me, however don't feel you need to respond. References and photos are available upon request. :-) Feel free to share this with whomever. I don't consider it particularly private.