We don’t always think about the consequences of our actions at times, sometimes when we say something we don’t really mean in a heat of the moment we lose friends, or upset our family. Never did I think that the consequences of my actions would end with the severance of the relationship between me and most of my birth family.
Recently in the social media news networks the stories of children, teens and even adults coming out to their families as transgender has been making the rounds. I’m happy to say that more often than not my story has become the exception rather than the rule when it comes to these stories. Nearly ten years ago I told my family, (my parents, two brothers and sister) that I am transgender. Immediately, my younger sister distanced herself from me and avoided having anything to do with me as much as possible. My parents refused to accept that I was transgender and told me that I was just going through a phase, this was ten years ago mind you. My younger brother didn’t seem too sure how to react, but it seemed that he was indifferent on the matter.
After eight years of struggling with my parents, my gender identity and the depression and suicidal thoughts that ensued, I took the first steps to medically transition. At the time I was living with my disabled parents in a house that my wife and I put the down payment on, taking care of them, running a paper route and homeschooling my son. Things were difficult because my mother had begun to blame my wife for me being transgender. When I began to talk to my mother about legally changing my name the tension got worse. I begged her to call me an abbreviation of my birth name, which could be considered masculine. I cited reasoning that all of my other siblings were called by nicknames that were a shortening of their name and she refused, and at that point she began calling me by my full birth name. Shortly after that the name calling began, I was no longer my parent’s child but rather a “big, fat angry lesbian”. For a while she stopped talking to me altogether, it was as if I no longer existed, and she even told my younger brother that I was dead during a phone conversation that I walked in on. I can’t explain how badly that hurt, I could try but the words would fall short.
After telling my parents that I was going to finally begin my medical transition; and had found a doctor things got worse. I thought that I would help ease tension by getting a hotel room for a few days to put a little distance between my family and my parents. While the major stress of the emotional discord was gone for those few days, my parents also decided that I no longer had a home to go back to. My mother called me and informed me that I needed to come get my things because I was no longer welcome there and she was moving my younger sister in. My wife, our two children and I had nowhere to go, so we bounced from hotel to hotel for months. I ended up losing the paper route and we lost our only income.
For months we lived out of a hotel and struggled to with my transition and the disconnection from my parents. For nearly 30 years I thought of my mother as my best friend, someone that I could always turn to or talk to when I was upset and I lost that. We ended up getting an apartment with the help of my wife’s mother and were able to settle into a semi normal state for a while. Around this time my younger brother moved back from Georgia and would come visit from time to time. While he wasn’t always on cue with the correct pronouns, he did try his best. I wasn’t going to fuss at him too much because he was the only one of the family that I grew up with that was trying to accept me for who I was, not what he wanted me to be.
We ended up losing our apartment because of money trouble, no one wanted to hire someone that was transgender and had a two year unemployment space in on their resume (those two years I had spent caring for my parents as a PCA in exchange for room and board) and my wife was disabled. In order to keep our children from living on the streets or in a homeless shelter we moved across the country to live with my wife’s mother in Richmond, VA. This was two years ago, and since then I haven’t been able to see any of my birth family. My parents have changed their phone numbers and refuse to give me their new contact information. The only person that still talks to me is my younger brother. Last month he told me that he’s getting married and that I’m invited to the wedding.
He is the only one of my brothers or sister to invite me to their wedding. When my older brother got married, while I did attend he didn’t invite me, I ended up asking him if it was okay if I went and he said he didn’t care. When my younger sister got married I wasn’t invited nor was I welcome. Now, my younger brother wants me to be there at his wedding and I’m struggling to make that happen. My biggest obstacle is funding. On June 30th I had surgery to remove my reproductive organs because of severe pain, and about two months ago I was screened for autism and I hit a lot of the markers for something at the high-functioning end of the spectrum. My therapist doesn’t specialize in autism so I’m struggling to find someone that will test an adult. I had thought that I just had extreme social anxiety, but it would seem that that isn’t the case. In addition to the now four-year unemployment gap, a disability such as autism and being transgender makes you pretty much unemployable in a “right to work” state like Virginia.
I’m still in the recovery stages of my surgery and couldn’t work even if I found a part time or piece job. I won’t be cleared for any work until August 4th at the earliest and I’d need to fly out on August 24th. Twenty days is not nearly enough time to save up enough money to make the trip, especially so because he’s getting married in Vietnam where his fiancé is from.
So I am left to reach out to anyone that will hear me and ask for help. I will need a passport, visa and a roundtrip plane ticket. My brother says that I won’t have to worry about room and board while I’m there because he’ll take care of it. My passport will cost about $210, because I’ll need it expedited, and I was told a visa would cost about $180. The flight is the biggest cost really at $1100 to $1500 roundtrip.
I am at the point now where I will do nearly anything to be able to make it to his wedding and to meet my sister-in-law to be. I’m hoping that if strangers can raise over $20,000 for a man to attend a total stranger’s wedding, I can raise $3500 to attend my brother’s wedding. I’ve started a GoFundMe campaign for anyone that would be willing to help me: