beauty + lifestyle + parenting

an open letter to Bruce Jenner

My letter is in response to the Bruce Jenner/Diane Sawyer interview, which aired Friday, April 24th. If you want to view it, you can search for the interview.


via

Dear Mr. Jenner,

Even though you have no idea who I am, I applaud you, Bruce. 

I applaud your bravery to go on to live TV, sit down with the world's most renowned journalist, and explain your decision to change your gender. But in all honesty, you didn't have to. You really didn't have to explain yourself. Maybe it's because you and your family have been in fame's spotlight, and the tabloids can be so harsh, but you truly did not have to explain your decision to ANYONE. You are who you are. And people should just accept that.

But I get it. I get why you felt that need.

Being transgender seems like a hard thing to do. I understand that a person just doesn't make the decision to be transgender, they are born that way. Most people live their entire life not feeling like themselves, and they have a fear that if they try to be a certain way, other than the norm, they will be forever shunned by society. I mean, look at homosexuality. In any type of religion, children are taught to accept thy neighbor and treat people like you would want to be treated, but we as a society, we seem to deviate from those teachings quite a bit. An example is the fact that in most religions, they seem to believe that we can pray the gay away. To put it bluntly, I think that it a cop-out; and they really are just assholes that don't want to deal with non-conformality. The conforming norm is that you are who you are when you enter this world, you grow up, marry an individual of the opposite sex, have children, work your ass off, and then die. That is how the world has always worked. But when you deviate from that norm, people are shocked. And shock leads to a deficit in learning. And that deficit leads to fear. Fear leads to ignorance. Ignorance leads to becoming an asshole.

I understand that sexual orientation has nothing to do with being transgender, but the example was the simplest thing I felt that people would understand.

I digress...

About ten years ago, my father decided to drop a bomb on my family- he wanted to be a woman. My family was not understanding, and they still aren't to this day. But it's not their fault. My father kept his whole transgenderness a secret, and projected his pain onto my mother. He became controlling and verbally abusive, and when he wasn't, he was a hermit- barricading himself into a room in our basement, where he would smoke his weed. My childhood was full of torment, mostly because I never knew two parents who actually showed each other that they loved the other. Or had a father that was actually there for me.

A few months after my mother had filed for divorce, my father's secret finally came out. I was 18. My mother found out that my father had spent most of their money on hormones, and she was hurt. She was hurt that he had kept everything a secret for so long- they had been together for over 20 years by that point. Once the divorce was finalized, my father told my brother and me that he was moving away, and he would come see us one more time before he left.

At the visit, he was dressed as a woman.

Needless to say, we didn't take it that well. He never really eased us into the idea of him wanting to become a woman. He only told us that he wanted to be one and then bam, he was dressing as one. Basically he had been a man, and we had called him Dad for the better part of our lives, and then at the visit, he was telling us, I am now a woman, call me Michelle. For two children, one 18 and one 15, we were in shock. We didn't understand. He never explained. He showed us what he wanted to be, in a sense demanded that we recognize him as a woman, basically told us that our dad was gone, and then left. I can't speak for my brother, but I can tell you that I was traumatized. You just don't do that to your children.

A few months after my father left, I began to get letters. In the letters, my father blamed the divorce on my mother, and then tried to explain his decision to become a woman, but failed miserably. He said that he had always felt different, and even tried to tell his mom. He explained that his mom had walked in on him wearing a dress, and beat him because of it. He never said what age he was, but hinted that he was under 10 and I know that he was born in 1958. My father said that after that, he kept his secret. Some years later, he met my mother, and she became pregnant with me. He said that he had tried to break up with her before she became pregnant, because he wanted to attempt to be a woman, because that's how he felt. When he learned that she was pregnant, he decided to take on the responsibility of fatherhood and leave his feelings behind. At that point in the explanation, I would have understood, and would have been ok, but he went on to say that that since my mother was pregnant, he couldn't be who he wanted to be, and blamed it on the baby. I don't think he did that on purpose, because what father could be that cruel.

I never responded to the letters. Again, I was hurt and I had no idea what to say.

In 2009, I married my husband. For our honeymoon, we decided on Las Vegas. A few weeks before the wedding, I decided to try and reconnect with my father. I had heard from my brother (with whom my father was still in contact with), that he was living on the west coast, and figured we could meet up for dinner or something. Through Facebook, I found out that he was living in Nevada, as a woman and was in a relationship with a man. We decided on dinner at a nearby casino, so we could possibly pick up where we had left off five years prior.

Since turning 21, I have always tried to have an open mind when it comes to people. I am the type of person that accepts all walks of life, and I don't discriminate. I don't care if you are white, black, Asian, Indian, straight, gay, lesbian, transgender, or whatever. As long as your sexual orientation isn't orientated towards children or animals, and as long as you are nice, then I will be nice to you. That night in Las Vegas, that wasn't the case.

After about five years of not seeing my father, I was honestly floored after the dinner. His face looked the same, but his demeanor wasn't even close. He seemed scared and nervous. He introduced himself to my husband as "Michelle". I could tell that he wanted to explain, but he chose not to. Instead, he decided to describe his new life. And how happy he was.

I tried to be nice during dinner. I tried to be accepting. I gave him a hug in good faith, but not once did he apologize for tearing my family apart. For not considering our feelings. For not easing us into the idea of him turning into a woman. Not once did he ask how I felt. And I didn't divulge either.

For the next year, he followed me on Facebook, would comment on things, and send me messages. He tried to come off as though he cared. Though he cared about me, my mother, and my brother. And I tried to be nice. I would politely respond to his messages, but I had the distinct feeling that he knew his relationship with me, was over.

I became pregnant with my son about six months after the meeting in Las Vegas. I was beaming, and of course I decided to post my ultrasound pictures on Facebook. A week later, I received a message. My father said that he had took my ultrasound pictures, and posted them on his blog. I read the blog post... he said that he was going to be a grandma. First, I was crushed. Then I was angry. Then I was irate.

He had expected me to accept his change with open arms, and I didn't. I was blindsided. I had known my father as my father for over twenty years, and then in a blink of an eye, I was supposed to call him "Michelle" and refer to him as a woman. You can't do that to a person. You can't just turn their lives upside down without some type of warning. Sure, you can change your hair, or your clothes, or what ever superficial aspect of your life that suits you, but completely changing your gender and asking people to accept you without that warning, well, I'm sorry, that doesn't work.

I was mad. I was hurt. And I unleashed my hurtful anger onto the person who I felt that deserved it at the time. My father My famother (at that point, he had directed us (my brother and I) to not call him Dad or refer to him as our father, but to call him Michelle). I told him that he would never meet my son, and that he needed to delete my pictures right away, because I was done with him.

In retrospect, I know I was being selfish, hateful, hurtful, and mean. But how was I supposed to act? Like I said, I was blindsided.

Granted my experience as a child of a transgender parent was not all that pretty, but I never had a good relationship with my father. But, Mr. Jenner, it seems like you and your children have a good relationship. And that is one of the key things to look at. I can't tell you that one of your children aren't going to feel like I did, but I can tell you that with the amount of warning they have had, it will be easier for them to accept it. And like you said in your interview- You are still their Dad. The only aspect about yourself that you are changing, is your gender. You aren't springing the change on them, and acting like your past identity is dead. You are just sprucing up yourself a bit.

I wish you all the luck in the world, Mr. Jenner. And I finally do understand why you did your interview- to inspire and to show love. And to save a life. If your interview inspired one person to be who they truly feel they are, and saved a life, then I think you did your job.

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5 comments

  1. Ashley Ponder RichardsApril 27, 2015 at 9:16 AM

    Tabitha I just couldn't imagine. I am trying to imagine what it would be like if this was sprung on me but I just can't. I couldn't imagine your brother at 15 and learning this. Your father was his male role model. I don't think your father handled it well. Maybe he did his best, considering you said he wasn't a very good father in the first place. I know it took guts for him to become this person but the execution was not good at all. I'm sure your mom was also beyond upset. She had spend all these years with this man to be betrayed. I'm glad she was able to find happiness. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story with us. It was beautiful written.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this with us. I didn't watch the interview - and I can't imagine how difficult it is for children to go through those changes. But, I agree with you - by allowing his children to go through it with him has to be beneficial for everyone involved!

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  3. That was a brave post to write Tabitha and I admire you for doing so. I can't imagine how you felt but I can't see how anyone could ever judge your reaction. I'm very open minded but having something as major as that sprung on you would be enough to blindside anyone. I've not seen the interview but admire him for doing it. Sending lots of love your way x

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  4. girl. this is an amazing story. i'm so glad you decided to write it all down and i hope it felt good!

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  5. Thank you for writing such a brave blog post. I commend you!

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