When I blogged my letter to our friends and family on Friday, I genuinely had no idea what to expect. I knew I was taking a bit of a risk sharing something so personal on the internet but, let’s face it, my blog dwells in a quiet corner of the web where few wander and I figured it wouldn’t be stumbled on by many people other than people I know through social media. As it turned out I had Kim Kardashian’s oiled-up bum to compete with for hits anyway, and who can compete with that? Our decision to share our news in that way that we did was borne from a need to tell as many people as possible, all in one go. In doing so, we hoped to avoid a situation whereby we’d have to ‘come out’ repeatedly over a period of weeks and months, telling the same story over and over again. We figured that doing it this way would mean that everyone could hear the news, react, and ask questions in the following days, and that we’d then be able to get on with it. Last Friday morning, as we prepared to tell our children and then our wider group of friends and acquaintances, I still couldn’t even imagine a time when everyone would know. It was like my mind didn’t dare imagine what would come next. Friday was the climax of what had been months of worry, discussion, contemplation, decision making and many, many shared tears.
In terms of reaction, I think I probably anticipated mainly awkward silence. I had visions of tumbleweed blowing through my blog as a dog barked in the distance. I figured we’d probably encounter some unpleasantness from the odd troll, but I didn’t fear that because words on a screen can’t break me. I’d prepared myself for the worst in the hope that any surprises would be good ones… A surprise was exactly what I got! The response was overwhelming: we were flooded with love, support and encouragement from family, friends and strangers. We were shown understanding and acceptance in a way that I hadn’t dared dream of. So far, more than 4,500 people have viewed that letter and I haven’t received one single negative response. Not one. Sure, some people who know us have chosen to remain silent and that’s fair enough. I’m enough of a realist to know that there will be criticism, though. I know that there will be disapproval, and lack of understanding, and gossip, and unpleasantness. Most of it will take place where I can’t hear it, and that’s fine – people are entitled to their opinions. On the occasions where I’m faced with it, I’ll draw strength from the love and support that I know Jess and I are surrounded by, and I’ll rise above it.
My overwhelming feeling now is mainly one of relief. It feels like we’ve carried this secret for so long now, that finally unburdening ourselves of it is liberating. It’s done, and I won’t have to spend another single minute of another day wondering over and over and over again what to do. Never again will I lie awake at night wondering how people react, because now I know. I’ll never again have the reactions of the children weighing on my mind, because I’ve seen their reactions. It’s early days, but so far our respective children have been incredible. People did try to tell us that children are far more accepting and understanding than adults, but we didn’t dare believe them. Needless to say, we’re only just starting out and there will doubtlessly be bumps along the way, but we could not have hoped for a better start.
That letter was going to be my first and last blog post on the subject. I had absolutely no intention of sharing any further details of our journey – of our highs and our lows, our challenges and our triumphs – online. However the number of people who contacted me to say that they’re in a similar position to mine, or that they’ve been here and had nowhere to turn, or that they’d previously had completely misunderstood what being transgender meant, has reminded me how much I struggled to find advice, support and information in the early days. I remember trawling the internet for hours on end, desperate for hope and encouragement and finding nothing but tales of misery, isolation and, ultimately, decimated relationships. Reading and rereading all these articles was so counterproductive, and made my own personal journey to acceptance so much longer and more difficult. I knew there were others out there; people who’d walked this path before me and emerged happy and fulfilled, but there was no trail. The least I can do, having been shown so much love and support by others, is to leave a trail behind me- a trail which, hopefully, will lead to a destination of love, acceptance and fulfilment.
To every one of you who offered us your support – thank you. I doubt you will ever know how much that meant, or how I will carry it with me for many years to come.