In considering acceptance. And Sugar says...

"Dear Sugar,

I’m transgender. Born female 28 years ago, I knew I was meant to be male for as long as I can remember. I had the usual painful childhood and adolescence in a smallish town because I was different—picked on by other kids, misunderstood by my (basically loving) family. Seven years ago I told my mom and dad I intended to have a sex change. They were furious and disturbed by my news. They pretty much said the worst things you can imagine anyone saying to another human being, especially if that human being is your child.

I cut off ties with my parents and moved to the city where I live now and made a new life living as a man. I have friends and romance in my life. I love my job. I’m happy with who I’ve become and the life I’ve made. It’s like I’ve created an island far away and safe from my past. I like it that way.

A couple weeks ago, after years of no contact, I got an email from my parents that blew my mind. They apologized for how they’d responded when I told them about my plans for a sex change. They said they were sorry they never understood and now they do—or at least enough that we could have a relationship again. They said they miss me and they love me.

Sugar, they want me back.

I cried like crazy and that surprised me. I know this might sound odd, but I believed I didn’t love my parents anymore or at least my love had become abstract, since they had rejected me and because we’ve not been in touch. But when I got that email a lot of emotions that I thought were dead came back to life.

This scares me. I have made it because I’m tough. I’m an orphan, but I was doing great without my parents. Do I cave and forgive them and get back in touch and even go visit them as they have asked me to do? Or do I email them and say thank you, but letting you back into my life is out of the question, given our past?

I know what you’re going to say, Sugar. I read your column. But I need you to say it to me.


"Dear Orphan,

Please forgive your parents, sweet pea. Not for them. For you. You’ve earned the next thing that will happen if you do. You’ve remade yourself already. You and your mom and dad can remake this too—the new era in which they are finally capable of loving the real you. Let them. Love them back. See how that feels.

What they did to you seven years ago is terrible. They now know that. They’re sorry. They’ve grown and changed and come to understand things that confounded them before. Refusing to accept them for the people they’ve become over these years of your estrangement isn’t all that different from them refusing to accept you for who you are. It’s fear-based and punishing. It’s weak rather than tough.

You’re tough. You’ve had to ask impossible questions, endure humiliations, suffer internal conflicts and redefine your life in ways that most people don’t and can’t even imagine. But you know what?

So have your parents. They had a girl child who became what they didn’t expect. They were cruel and small when you needed them most, but only because they were drowning in their own fear and ignorance.

They aren’t drowning anymore. It took them seven years, but they swam to shore. They have arrived at last on your island.

Welcome them.


(Sometimes I think this is the most beautiful thing ever written.)

-L (6/27/12)

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