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Letters to my Son, Part 1 of a 3 part series

This story was also recorded for The Witness Podcast Episode 10.

Dear Sam,

We are sorry that you felt so hurt by our last conversation in New York. Please believe there was no malice in our words or hearts. Above all, we love you and will always love you, but we are very concerned about what’s happening.

You said it took you weeks to get out of bed after our visit. If our opinion about your decision to transition sexes is so devastating that you cannot get out of bed, then we fear that you may not be able right now to make decisions that will affect you for the rest of your life. If your parents’ honesty prevents you from functioning, then much deeper issues need to be addressed.

All decisions have consequences, both for you and for the whole family.

We wish that you felt you could talk to us. Shutting us out of your life will not make things easier for you or for us. You seem to be taking advice from strangers who don’t really know you, love you, or have a vested interest in your welfare like we do. Ten sessions with a therapist does not equal twenty-five years of being known and loved by your family. The therapist is paid to do a job. We are in your life because we love you.

I miss you.

Love, Mom

Dear Sam,

Thank you for responding to my text. I know it wasn't easy. I just wanted to tell you that I want to be part of your life and have you in mine. I want that more than anything.

I am terribly sorry you are in pain. I wish I could help, but don't know how. So I need to know what it is you need from me.

I am asking this because I feel like I am getting mixed messages from you. You’ve said that you can't trust us because we are closed minded and uncaring, but then later you said you need us more than ever. I’ll be honest, my unfiltered reaction is to ask why you would want us in your life if we are such horrible human beings?

We have different perspectives on this, Sam. You believe that you are a woman and always have been. Your dad and I don't believe you are a woman, or that people can change sex. We understand that you have a lot of pain, but we don't know where it comes from. You tell us to accept you unconditionally or else. Frankly, you have shown us the "or else" for the last eight months by refusing to communicate.

I know these words will probably hurt you, but hurting you is not my intention. The best thing I have to offer right now is my love and honesty.

I know I am a very flawed person and I am sure I am wrong about a lot of things. However, I feel I have to be honest. You are surrounded by people that will affirm your sex change. But I cannot, because I don’t believe it’s healthy, possible, or right.

But if you are so sure that you are a woman, why do you need my affirmation at all?

In order for us to be in each other's lives, we both need to be honest with each other and ourselves. We need to communicate, discuss, argue, cry, and keep moving forward. It will be painful and uncomfortable. It will require compromise and a lot of listening to each other.

Are you ready to do that? Do you need more time? You cannot just say that Dad and I have to be better. It goes both ways. From your last texts, I am not sure you are ready because everything we say seems to trigger anger. When I ask about your journey to where you are today, you say you don't owe me an explanation. If you cannot explain it to me, then how are we to have any dialogue? In a relationship, you don't get to dictate the rules. Shutting me down is not honest or fair.

You say I don't get to choose the parts of you I get to love. Do you understand that it is only the love I have for you that the reason I am writing this and trying so hard? It would be so much easier for me to walk away. So much easier to affirm and pretend that all is OK. But I don’t want to, because I love you entirely.

I think we have been very supportive throughout your life. There are lots of things we didn't like or agree with, but none of those decisions caused you to self-harm. Self-harm is something you do to yourself.

We are scared that you won’t be any happier as a girl. We are scared things might become even worse for you.

But I am willing to work hard at this, Sam. Are you?



Partners for Ethical Care shares these stories to give voice to individuals who cannot share their stories publicly due to the possibility of losing their jobs, their friends, and their children. All stories are confidential and anonymous. You can share your story too. Go to and click on theShare Your Story button. We welcome your story, your time, and yourdonation to support this important work.


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