I have waited a long time to write this. High school, college, my first job, my first apartment.
Your firstborn is finally an adult.
We’ve addressed the issues before. Usually at the kitchen table, or as you stand in my doorway while I cry in my bedroom. I have yelled. I have called you assholes, terrible parents.
I blamed you for fucking me up.
You did fuck me up.
I am an adult now, so it isn’t your job to parent me any more. To teach me acceptance of self. To tell me I am beautiful; perfect the way I am. To tell me I deserve only the best. To tell me that guy who broke my heart is crazy for letting me get away. To tell me I am a catch. A good person. A talented artist. A fountain of possibility. A woman with an amazing life ahead of her.
You weren’t there for me when I was bullied in middle school and high school. You wrote it off as “being a kid” or “well, that’s high school,” but I was a kid. I was in high school. That’s all I knew. I didn’t have your hindsight.
When I found the note in the garbage during science class, the one that was written about me by two girls in the class, you weren’t the ones who held me and told me it would be okay.
You didn’t acknowledge the pain that I felt when I read those words – ‘she’s such a stupid bitch. I wish she’d just like jump off a cliff.’
You told me they were being stupid and childish. You told me to brush it off.
You found the suicide note that I penned at 11 years old. You were going through my stuff. I was so mad at you. You sent me to therapy, and we never spoke of it again.
When I was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder, you didn’t help me shoulder the burden. You didn’t cry with me. You didn’t buy any books on the topic. You didn’t do the Walk for Mental Health charity 5k that I KNOW happened several years ago.
Why didn’t you do that?
When I overdosed in college and you came to pick me up, you silently drove me home to your house, two hours away, where I stayed the entire weekend to “get away from everything.” On Sunday night, you asked if I was okay.
I’m okay. Two days ago I tried to kill myself, again, but you know, sure, okay, I’m fine.
And then you put me on a bus back to school.
And we never spoke of that weekend again.
I stayed in therapy.
When I gained all of that weight, because of the PCOS, and I was sad, miserable, and feeling less than worthy of anything, you bribed me with a new car to lose 20 lbs. You didn’t tell me I was pretty. You didn’t tell me size was just a number. You didn’t tell me to go out and have fun with my friends, to not care about what I looked like, to know that it was the inside the counted the most.
You told me you’d buy me a car, and when I starved myself for two months, you handed me the keys.
You never told me it would get better.
But then there was your second child.
I know now that parents have favorites. Do you love all three of us? Of course you do. If something were to happen to any one of us, would it break you? I would hope. But when all three of your kids stand in front of you, you know who your favorite is.
He is your favorite child.
He grew up bubbly, fun, surrounded by friends. Smart, adorable, well-behaved. Charming.
I hated him from the beginning. Remember the time I spilled hot soup on him when he was three? Remember the time I yanked a huge chunk of hair out of his head when he was seven?
I was, undoubtedly, your angry child.
But somewhere along the path of growing up, he became my favorite too. When you guys didn’t care about my broken heart, he did.
When I needed help with stats, he always knew the answers.
When I was in my darkest moments, fearing the end, I remembered that while I idolized him more than he looked up to me, I had a little brother to take care of.
He encouraged me when you didn’t. He took me seriously when you brushed me off. He laughed at my jokes. He asked to spend time with me. He got to know me beyond being his sister and your daughter.
All the while, he shined. Confident, secure, compassionate; he encompassed everything you’d look for in another human being. He made for great company.
He is gay.
You didn’t bribe him to change. You didn’t encourage him to shy away from his friends because he was getting used to his new skin. You just didn’t.
He was still beautiful. He was still talented. He was still smart. No matter what he “was” – he was still your son. My brother. And you loved him for exactly who he was, exactly who he is, just as you did before, just as you always will.
The acceptance was instant. It was non-negotiable.
He was surrounded by your love – the same love I lacked when it came to my yearning for your acceptance. Your non-negotiable support.
I resented you. I resented him.
In the wake of the recent suicides within the LBGQT community, I am so thankful that my little brother was one of the few who was enveloped in love and support from the very beginning.
That he became so much more that could define him other than his orientation.
That his life was so filled with possibility, he never wanted it to end.
You did not grace me with an abundance of love at the times I needed it the most. Perhaps it was because I was your first – your oldest – your first “go” at all things parenting. Perhaps you had no idea what to do, so you chose to do nothing. I know that as a child, I was different. I had different needs. As an adult, I can understand that. And I can empathize.
But thank you for being exactly the type of parents my little brother needed.
If you had been different, if things had been different…well, I don’t know how to even write the words that follow. I can’t write them.
All I know is that I am grateful for him – the one person that in my darkest hour will tell me, “Caroline…it gets better.”
Okay, Band, I am in a quandary and need some mature advice.
My closest friend cheated on her husband this year, her husband found out, and they decided to stay together and work on their marriage.
Last week, my friend confided in me that she had been cheating again (same guy), but it ended the week before she told me. Only this time she did not plan to tell her husband. Our husbands are also close friends and in business together. She told me this but also straight-up said that it was okay for me to tell my husband about what she’s been up to. Because my husband and I love them both and also value the truth, we each talked to her separately and urged her to tell her husband the truth. She agreed that she should be honest with her husband if her marriage had a real chance at being repaired.
Last weekend, she told me that she’d told him, but that they were going to keep the matter to themselves and seek counseling. Over the course of the week it became obvious that her husband had no clue about her affair. My husband and I agonized over what to do.
Did we (1) urge her again to come clean or (2) leave it alone?
We chose option 1. She blew up and told us to back-off. So we did…but with nagging consciences.
Today, my husband decided that if his friend found out at a later date that his had wife cheated again, and found out that we knew about it and hadn’t told him—well, he just couldn’t live with that.
So without actually telling him outright, he gently told his friend today that his wife was not being truthful and he needed to talk to her. (I had no clue he was going to say anything to him.)
My friend’s husband went home to confront her.
Needless to say, the poo hit the fan and the truth is out. Now she’s lashing out at my husband for talking to her husband and “ruining her life.” I feel awful about the whole thing; I love my best friend and her husband as well. They have been amazing friends.
I would love to hear from anyone who has been in a similar situation—do you think my husband did the right thing?
Would you tell your friend if their spouse had cheated on them? Could you live with yourself if you knew and did nothing? Where do we go from here?
I know this is going to sound totally gross and the more I go on the grosser it’s going to sound, but please, hear me out. I’m in trouble here, folks.
I think my boss wants to sleep with me
When I say I think, I mean I’m about 97.5% certain.
He’s not just my boss; he’s also my friend. He’s also 62. He’s also my best friend’s dad. He’s also married. And I could say all sorts of shit, like ‘He’s 62 but he’s a YOUNG 62,’ or ‘He’s married, but his wife’s a drunk and from the outside it sure looks like they have a craptastic marriage,’ but that is making excuses. I’m not doing that.
In the last several months we’ve become good friends. There are times when we’re alone at the office and we hang out and chat. We talk about all sorts of stuff: music, arts, culture, literature, blah blah blah blah blah. He’s interesting and funny and a really good friend.
Years ago I dated a man who was 29 years my senior. I’ve never hidden that. In fact, when I started working at my current place of employment the (old) gentlemen and I were still together. In one of the many conversations the boss and I have had he mentioned that he hadn’t understood that relationship until recently. That I was just delightful to be around or some tune similar to that. I tell you right now just to save you all the time that I most definitely have daddy issues. Being a young lady in her early twenties dating men in their fifties isn’t the norm. I never thought it was gross though. I still don’t.
I’m not entirely sure that I wouldn’t do it. I’m really curious. Not curious enough to ruin a friendship, marriage, my job, etc., but curious enough to let my mind wander. Also can I mention that this is a huge fucking distraction in the workplace?!
That sounds bad, huh? Like I’m a bad person. I’m not, I’m just so fucking confused by the whole thing. But I’m listening to my gut here, and my gut’s telling me that this is what he wants.
I haven’t been 100% honest with you guys. I totally let him take pictures of me. You know the kind. Twice. He’s full on into photography, took hundreds of pictures just like mine years ago, has some bad ass camera equipment, never said anything inappropriate while the sessions were taking place, was super professional and I know everyone says this, but they were tasteful! And the second batch? Well, I think they are the prettiest pictures anyone has ever taken of me.
I know, doing shit like that opens the door to stupid and I just didn’t believe that would happen. All these little things keep adding up and the only conclusion I can come to is that my boss wants to sleep with me. I’m not saying he would or that it will happen, but my instincts are telling me something is there.
Has anyone ever dealt with anything like this? I need help, The Band.
A 2016 poll found that there are between 0.5 to 0.6% people who are transgender in the US.
This would put the total number of transgender Americans at approximately 1.4 million adults.
This is their journey:
I’m R and I’m transgender. I’m also the youngest kid in my family. I’m quiet, and my older sibling, L, is not. We are both a lot alike and very different.
Growing up. I didn’t have a name for how I felt; I just knew I was really unhappy the older I got. I hated the changes puberty was causing. I wanted it to stop. I’m quiet. I didn’t say anything. I doubled down on skirts, on leggings, on purses, whatever I could do to be more girly. My mom loved it, so I kept doing it, but I grew more unhappy. I lied about my favorite anime characters, saying I liked girl characters when I was drawn to male characters.
And then, a couple years into this struggle, when I finally had a name for who I was – transgender, my brother L came out to my parents as being transgender and I felt screwed over. I figured that if I said something now, my parents would think I was copying my brother. So, I dressed even girlier while I grew more depressed.
L was immediately accepted. His entire wardrobe of girl’s clothes went to me or got tossed. He got boys underwear, boys jeans, everything a geeky little guy could ask for. I still hammed it up, letting my mom put makeup on me, do my hair, whatever I could do to embrace being female.
It was awful, but I did it anyway, lasting a year and a half into L’s social transition before my mom helped break through my barrier. She guessed that I was trans, but unlike L’s instant transition, my mom wanted made me to wait an agonizing six months to come out, even though I, too, got a new wardrobe and haircuts that grew increasingly shorter I came out to my extended family as gay first. It wasn’t quite right, the gay label as a girl, but it let me be out, partially, at least.
Trying to figure out who I was and my sexuality at the same time was torture. I told myself that I must like girls in that way, but I didn’t. I want someone to partner with, but I was also figuring out that I was asexual. The asexual part was the easiest. I really needed an easy thing at that point.
I tore myself up over being trans, being gay. I felt so alone.
I was more depressed than ever. I still got called by my girl name and it made me sick each time I heard it or saw it. My mom saw the despair, and four months after coming out to her, I took my new name and came out to my whole family and friends.
My brother and I never said a word to each other during the years we were suffering and trying to figure out what was wrong. We share a room, and both of us are blown away that each night for years we lay in our beds and agonized silently.
If one of us would have taken the leap and shared, we could have suffered less.
We knew our parents were LGBT allies and supported one of my mom’s students who was transgender.
We were scared. Scared to say the words aloud to ourselves.
To each other.
To our parents.
To the world.
We saw the agony that my mom’s student was in, that moving hours away to an LGBT friendly place was the only way to live openly.
That’s why trans visibility is so important. Acceptance is essential.
My brother L and I are transgender.
We are at peace with that knowledge because we are accepted for who we are.
A 2016 poll found that there are between 0.5 to 0.6% people who are transgender in the US.
This putS the total number of transgender Americans at approximately 1.4 million adults.
This is her journey:
Despite living in a sizable city, there are very few people who know what transgender means. Not even the doctors here knew what transgender meant until we explained it to them.
Imagine having two transgender children in a community that is extremely conservative and evangelical. The schools are unwelcoming. The churches are unwelcoming. Most people reject the local LGBT individuals. The state legislature is actively pursuing bills that legalize discrimination against people like my children.
Given that the trans population is less than half a percent of my state’s population, the lack of awareness of transgender people is unsurprising.
Visibility of transgender people in the media is increasing, but not at a rate fast enough to make a dent in the general population. Here, where we live, at least, visibility occurs as the few LGBT people come out of the closet to their families, friends, coworkers, and ultimately to the community as a whole.
Being out in a conservative, Republican city and state is often dangerous. Add in any other minority characteristics and the danger to the individual increases exponentially.
My two wonderful teenage transgender sons have to navigate this world. It’s terrifying to think of them in the school setting (so they are homeschooled), unbelievably frightening to think of them out there alone and out as they medically transition in the future.
Transgender visibility and awareness is vitally important. My kids were born into the wrong bodies. In the second trimester of my pregnancies, each of them were exposed to increased testosterone, changing their brain structures to resemble male brains.
Like sexual preferences, being transgender is not a choice. My sons, despite the identification at birth being female, are male. Because they are trans male, they are the lucky ones. They are less likely to be abused, less likely to be killed than trans females. They will, with testosterone, grow facial hair, increase their muscle mass and deepen their voices. They will enter into society with the stereotypical male look with ID cards that match their genders.
Most transgender people are not fortunate enough to have accepting families and doctors. Most struggle and suffer because of the extreme prejudices they face.
As allies to the LGBT community we can help change these struggles.
We can make sure that all people are accepted and treated equally.
Trans visibility is key, but without our speaking up for the community, for our friends and family members, change will be slow.
We must make this a seismic change. For my boys. For all trans people. For the world.