If you are like me, then you have kept a secret for too many years to contemplate. My biggest fear is that I might die in a car crash or have a heart attack, but hopefully not before I’ve either told my children and special friends about the inner me that cries to get out, or before I could eradicate all evidence of her as they fill me with embalming fluid. What if that day didn’t happen and my children instead discover the secret after my passing. I’m not sure which is a scarier thought…telling them…or having them find the truth without anyone to explain the why correctly. Many people write letters to keep with their wills and important papers to convey a last wish, or correct a wrong. This is my letter, and only the first one. My hope would be to have that day where I speak with them and the tone of future letters continually change for the better.
If you are reading this, I’m already gone. You can bet I didn’t go easily, my last thoughts filled with all the fear, panic, and conflict that I’ve lived with my entire life. For better or worse, the great secret is no more. I will assume you two have found the suitcases and boxes full of women’s clothes and high heels, too numerous to count. The makeup, the breast forms, the collection of wigs, all the nightgowns, nylons and panties mixed within the drawers of my male clothes, and a few items I wish weren’t there and that I’d gotten rid of. I’ve always accepted that I would die; I always believed that I would someday tell you about who I really am, and I always held back so that you would be happier in your life and not forced to deal with the complexities of mine.
You once asked me why I didn’t post selfies of myself or like having my picture taken. I hate looking at photographs or in the mirror at myself, because they don’t reflect the person I feel on the inside. If you someday crack the password on my computer, you’ll see 1000’s of pictures of just me, some beautiful, some sad, and some…you know. Don’t mock the miss-matched clothes, or poor makeup application, the male attributes too hard to hide, but instead notice the genuine smile and light in her eyes. This is as close to the true reflection of the person I feel inside and the one that hides from the mirror. Try to imagine that you wake up one day and unexpectedly have gained a hundred pounds overnight. What would you see in the mirror’s reflection? How would you feel looking at yourself?
Am I male, am I female, am I gay, sick, perverted, confused, mentally challenged, transgendered, a transvestite, a crossdresser, queer, a freak, and am I sorry for who I am; yes to all of it and more importantly—to none of it. The older I’ve gotten, the less I like labels. Two things matter to me; was I a good parent and have I been a kind person. I strove to be both of those things. You’ll never understand how much it pains me, but I know that from now on you are going to love and hate me, sometimes at the same time. I pray the love will carry you forward. I can’t tell you what I am, because I honestly don’t know. If I had the chance to go back and spend my life as a woman—I’d do it if nothing else would change. There is no way that I could ever give up the most important things in my life—you two. If I’d had all the money needed to change my current sex, would I do it? I can’t answer; and there lies the unanswered question of my life. I feel as if I’m probably 65-80% female, given the day and situation. If you were true with yourself, you might answer it similarly. I sincerely believe that our DNA carries both traits. Some show on the outside and some on the inside. Trying to pigeonhole anyone with an all-inclusive term is an example of labeling that doesn’t fit, never has, but is what others are willing to fight about and what some need to cling to. Why is it that one trait is deemed male and another one considered female? It really comes down to one item, or the lack of said item. Everything else is cosmetic, debatable, and changeable …even said item.
I’ve been fighting my insides and outsides for as long as I can remember. Seven years old and wearing dresses with my cousins as we played around in grandma’s stored away clothes. Everyone clapping and thinking we were cute as we paraded around. I snuck into my sister’s closet to wear her skirts and shoes, even daring a few times to put on her bra, and later wearing my first pair of pilfered pantyhose. There was the wig that I bought at a thrift shop, wore once and then threw it away as I cried in shame. The many pairs of high heels that were purchased, hidden from all of you, worn in secret, and then thrown away, only to be replaced by another pair as the need verses the shame battled continuously at my psyche. From the acceptance of who I might actually be after the divorce was final, to having the solitude to learn about my true self, to then suppressing her as I became scared of what I was becoming, to going through another failed relationship, in which she remained hidden, to once again letting her reemerge and become an integral and calming influence in my life, I’ve lived in a perpetual state of duress and confliction, need and fear, shame and longing.
Thankfully, we live in a world that is changing, one filled with more acceptance, more understanding, and more tolerance. I don’t want your forgiveness; that insinuates a wrongdoing. I am not wrong for trying to be me. It may have been wrong to hide her from you, maybe you might have liked her, but I couldn’t chance it. All the stories that I’ve read from others suggested that I should have taken the risk and finally lived free of the internal burdens. I pray that would be true. Someday, I’ll write another letter and add it to this one. I hope it has more to say, more happiness, more life. I hope it talks of the happiness of sharing my true self with you. If this is the only letter you read, then know that what matters most is the love I have for you, the joy of being your parent, and the pride I had in watching you succeed in your lives. I would lay down my life to protect you…I have. I would do it again. The bravest thing I’ve ever done…the password is Brina_lives.