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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

THE COLD STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: HOW I CAME OUT TO MY WIFE AND DAUGHTERS

As some of you may by now know, I am no longer in the closet to my wife of 24 years, and my three daughters ages 23, 21, and 19. I went through with my plan to "Come Out" to them on December 31, 2011.  I did it, I went through with the Granddaddy of all Coming Outs. It had to be done in the morning if it was to be done, since they always leave early, and stay gone for two days with her family I am ostracized from. I have yet to see them come home.

Here is how it went down. I stayed up all night on Sunday night, contemplating, pondering, praying, and seeking online, facebook and twitter friends that have become my dearest friends. Many of them have become my close Sisters, whom I truly have deep love for. I got a tremendous amount of encouragement, love, empathy, compassion, tender loving kindness, full understanding and acceptance. For that I am very thankful. I may have chickened-out without you guys, so thank you so very much. I am such an outlier in everything in my life, and every fiber of my being. I know for a certainly that God did not make me to blend in, to conform, to fit in (a box), to march in lock-step (in any fashion, especially goose), to be apathetic, indifferent, or acquiescent. Most of all he did not make me to be a Pretender, a guileful, fake human being. All these things were on my mind as the time drew near. I looked up online web sites, including LDS sites, and none of it appeared to help me much, in fact some of it was quite offensive to my spirit and disedifying, and that is not what I was about. All in all, I was left to the friendship online and especially in my new facebook group I co-founded with 2 of my most beautiful and wonderful friends. Please check out my new group for Transgender Mormons and Allies. Everyone in every aspect of the trans community is welcome, every person with present or past Mormon culture background is welcome, and everyone who is an ally to both trans folks and the Mormon culture, or just one of them, is welcome to join. We are entirely inclusive and loving. Our Motto is "Always Safe, Always Love", and we mean it.  Just look us up in facebook groups "Transgender Mormons and Allies".

So, I was left to my group, and my close friends online, from which I derived much strength, courage, and love. My prayers were fruitful, in that I was affirmed in what I was about to do. At about 10 am, I said, this is it, this is what I am supposed to do, and now is the time. This is the very last time I walk up these cold, dank, alienated, basement stairs, as Bob, the guileful fake human being. This will be the last time I scrape off this horrible stubble, from what is perceived as Bob. This will be the last time I will comb the bald head of a man named Bob. So many last's, and such an undiscovered country full of firsts to be exited about. Always reminding myself, yes, "this is really happening". The best advise I got was to be sure to present my whole coming out with tender loving kindness, not to argue, or raise my voice, or become defensive, because it is about the only thing I remembered. I chose not to go upstairs with a script, or even a list of any promptings. This was going to come directly from my heart, Leah's heart, and the Spirit of guidance and edification from Heavenly Father and Mother, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost. I would be amiss if I didn't also acknowledge all the prayers and fasting and positive energy and radio waves, expressed for me, and about me. I definitely felt it all, and it not only buttressed me, but validated my spirit, and engendered my courage and countenance. I truly want to thank you all for that.

Having gotten myself about as ready as I was ever going to be, and having heard the floor boards, above my head, creak with the stirrings of my family, I mustered my faculties together and headed up those lonely stairs. I found only my youngest daughter downstairs in the living room. I asked her where everyone was, and what their plans for the day were. She said they were all upstairs, and that they were planning on leaving in about an hour. I told her I needed to see the whole family, for an "important announcement". She went up and immediately I heard my wife exclaim, "Ladies, I need you downstairs, right now!" My heart kind of sunk a little bit, realizing that she knows what is coming. After having all gathered in the living room, I stood before them and started to speak. "I want you to know that I am very proud and thankful to be your husband, and I am very proud and thankful to be your father. I do not regret either one. This is something I have struggled with all my life. This is something I have known about since I was 4 years old." Then I started crying. I was temporarily unable to continue. It was the opposite feeling from when I came out to one of my Boards (of Directors), where I felt everyone else was in slow motion, and I was moving in hyper senses working overtime. This time it was almost the opposite. I felt like I was moving in slow motion, and my senses were dulled.

Finally, my wife just came out and asked, "what is it Bob", in a soft and kind voice, but not loving. I struggled for a moment, contorting my mouth and face, wiping away tears, "I am Transgender". "We've known", was my wife's quick response. It was so matter of fact, and so rapid a response, I was not surprised, but I was thrown off guard somewhat. "no, not just cross-dressing, full on transgender", I added. They said that yes, "we know, we've seen it on TV, and elsewhere, we know".  At this point I perceived the smirks on two of my daughters faces, as the looked at each other. There was stillness and silence. Heads were down. I didn't feel at all to add anything. I did ask them if they had any questions. They all said no. "I will always be your father, I will never regret being your father, and I will always be your Dad", I said. My wife then asked, "so what are you going to do now?" I told her that, "I plan to transition sometime in the future". "Well then, your going to have to start looking for a place to live", was my wife's cold response. Then she added. "and you will make an appointment to see both Bishop's". (it was announced on Sunday, we are getting a new Bishop on Jan 13.) I think she plans on telling the Bishop right away, and initiating the end of things the way they are.  I responded that "yes, I will make the appointments, and I will see both Bishops". What misfortune of having to do this hard thing twice, and dealing with two Bishops, one of whom I have no idea, who it is. So this was about all there was. I had to ask, "can I please get a hug?" My youngest daughter, age 19, home for Christmas, from BYU-Idaho, came immediately to me and hugged me. My oldest daughter did, begrudgingly, followed by my wife, with the same unloving, begrudging attitude. My middle daughter, who previously  held me in open contempt, just refused to hug me, and remained seated. No one said anything else, as it was a cold, and unaccepting atmosphere, that nothing more could be added, without getting hurt feelings and raising ire's. I decided then, that my most cold stairway had just been climbed. It is a stairway to heaven, and the transition from it being a cold one to a warm one, one with love, empathy, compassion, faith, hope, and charity in it, is just beginning.

I walked out of the living room, and into the kitchen. I could hear them talk about trans people. About Gender Confirmation surgery, revealing their understanding of the process, "the penis is inverted", and such. I opened the fridge, revealing very little food. The family already doesn't share food with me, and they get all their holiday time food from her family. There was only a large jar of pickles. So I grabbed myself a couple of pickles, and just stood in the kitchen, not yet ready to go down the stairs as the un-closet'ed person I have become. I soon figured it was of no use, and probably wrong to, to just stand there and eves drop on my family, so I took my sour pickles, and as proudly as I could, walked down that cold stairway, for the first time as Leah, and the true and authentic woman, I have now told the world that I am. Oh, I am still Bob, for a little while, but Bob was always me, Leah. I am one in the same. I am a human being, my name is Leah, and I am a woman. I am good, and I am dang ready to start roaring. Wait till everyone gets a load outta 'me'.

This is the first day of the new year. So Happy New Year, everyone. I hope 2013 is the best year in lives of all of you. It is the first day of the rest of my life. I have been reborn, refreshed, renewed. I am still in the process, this whole business of 'Coming Out', and transitioning. I have many hard roads to travel, many cold stairways yet to climb. But I am on my way, and I am up to the challenge. December 31, was my sister's birthday, the one that committed suicide, 21 years ago, at age 14. I picked this day to come out to honor my sister, as well as mourn her, and rise above the pain I have for her. It is now a special 'birthday' for me, and will always and ever more be a day of remarkable celebration.

All my Love and warmest regards and wishes for the Happiest Year Ever,

Leah.

4 comments:

  1. Leah, I love you. You are so brave. Please remember that the responses you saw were what you perceived, not necessarily how it is for them. This is a hard thing to process. Give them time. The voice that said,"Bob what is it," is the voice you should remember. The woman that laughed with you about a stupid tractor song is in there, and she will re-emerge in time. Or maybe she won't, but you know what? That's her loss, and for that I am genuinely sorry. Because you are a beautiful human being, and I am proud to call you my friend. Be the best parent you can be no matter what. That's probably the toughest thing ever. To truly love someone that seems to bite at you, but you have to do it because they are your children and they need you (Ive been there and it DOES get better). That doesn't mean you lose yourself anymore, that means taking care of you and truly loving them no matter what, and giving them a model for happiness. Leah, you've lived in the basement of your own home for too long. Perhaps they may be ashamed at themselves a little bit because "they've known," and haven't done much about it. You know the part of flying when the flight attendant is going over safety rules, and says that in the event of an emergency to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before assisting your children? That's what you're doing now. You've been suffocating for too long, and you are FINALLY taking the oxygen mask. Write them each individual letters, put some solid research in them, assure them each in the way you know they need that you will always be your parent. Do the same for your wife. They all deserve that, so do you. Then for heavens sake GET OUT OF THE BASEMENT OF YOUR LIFE AND START LIVING.

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  2. Dear Lori,

    I love you too. You are as a Sister to me, and I utterly cherish you, with all my heart. Your analogy of the airliner oxygen masks was the perfect one for my situation, and I thank you so much for that. Your idea of writing a unique and heartfelt letter to each of my daughters and wife is the best idea I have gotten to date.

    Thank you for all you have done for me in the few short days we have known each other. I am so exited for what this new year will bring. I am finally Free to be ME.

    All My Love,
    Leah.

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  3. Leah,

    I hope that you are able to start this part of your life with the love and support you need. I was thinking last night, in the middle of huge muscle spasms in my back, how much I just wanted to be done with the surgery and healing time, and be able to go on the annual New Year's Day hike with my mom.

    It was not a prayer, it was a whine, but I still had a clear answer, and I think my answer might mean something to you as well. (Think of this in a loving, and yet stern, voice of a mother.)

    "Julia, you did not sign up for easy, you signed up for joy. Easy and joy are incompatible. You agreed to feel the pain so that you could soar with the joy that would come later. I love you. Your Father loves you. Take this time of pain and instead of being restless, wear yourself out in loving others, and when you are exhausted, sleep and get the energy you need. Look around and see who else is next to you, in this time of pain. Do not shrink from sharing it. This is part of the life you covenented to live. Live it well, but do not live it alone. There are too many people who are hurting and need your love. If you practice reaching out to them now, when your pain is just as bad, if you make it a habit, then you will create a life long pattern.

    Your Father and I are well pleased with you. This is not an easy time in the life that is yours, but it is an important time. You need these experiences to fulfill the full measure of your creation. Sleep now, and when you wake up, write down my words, so they may be a comfort to you, and all those you share them with."

    I think Heavenly Mother means you, and so many of the friends I have connected with in the last two years. I love you!

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  4. I agree wholeheartedly, give them time, however much time they need. They may have already known having heard through the media, but now it is “up close and personal,” it is smack in their face and they must come to terms with it. Each person will do that in their own way and their own time. Just show them lots of love and patience, there are a multitude of feelings they must shift through and make sense of. This is a difficult thing for even the most accepting of spouses and families.

    My heart goes out to all of our loved ones. We single handedly destroy their world and replace it with something foreign and to them alien. So love them, love them, love them.

    This is all new territory and they do not know what to expect. Often when they see how much happier we are and that we “come alive” for the first time ever, this makes a positive impression on them. They begin to rethink and can start seeing what we’re doing as a good positive thing. I am a much better person now than I was before for which my family is most grateful.

    My only son is the one having a really rough time. In his words “trans people freak me out.” He’s known about me for a year now and is slowly inching forward. While he spent very little of his holidays at home with us, he was here for Christmas Eve and Day and he would speak to me. Before he’d grunt at me at best and would only actually speak to be only when I was presenting male. I was so proud of him Christmas Eve as we had a good friend of ours over for dinner. She was abandoned by her own family four years ago, so we opened ours to her. I was worried about doing this because I didn’t know how my son would react and I did not want my friend to be uncomfortable. I needn’t have worried. He was very respectful, pleasant and talkative.

    So, just give your family time, talk to them and more importantly listen to them and always pray for them. When appropriate, help them to understand GID and what it means to live in a wrongly gendered body. Do remember however, they do have their free agency and will do what they will do. Even so, we still love them and pray that their hearts will be softened.

    Big big hug,
    Amber

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