Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I recently came upon your column and find what you do here to be fascinating and of great aid to people like myself. That is why I would like your opinion about something important to me.
I am a closet MtF Trangender. I've confided this fact only to only those I really trust. I've been struggling with self identity as a result of this. I've known as I truly a woman since I was about 9 years old. Once, during my teen years, I made the mistake of confiding that information to a psychologist, which unfortunately resulted in my parents learning about it. It did not go over well.
I find it difficult to find balance in my life, knowing that I am essentially forced to live what feels like a stranger's life because I cannot live my own. I know that I have a need that is going unfulfilled and it is the direct result of my gender identity. It is painful to know people only see me as a man when I wish they would see beneath the skin to the woman underneath.
For me, undergoing gender reassignment wouldn't be enough. In some cases, it would be worse. The general public doesn't think fondly of transgendered folks such as myself and the furry fandom isn't that far dissimilar. I long to someday be a true woman, but it leaves me at a major impasse emotionally.
How do I cope with this?
Thank you for all you do, Papabear.
* * *
That’s a lovely name. Although it's upsetting that the psychologist told your parents, I would seriously be surprised if they didn’t know or at least suspect their son was having gender identity issues. Most children don’t think their parents know, but I’d bet $100 that at least your mother knew, if not both parents.
Papabear understands the transgender issue, and I hope my readers do, too. This is a very real condition in which a person feels that his or her physical body does not match up with how he or she feels on the inside. In a way, I think a number of furries feel like they are animal spirits trapped in human form. I feel like this often. Unfortunately for me, I cannot get a humanectomy followed by an ursine transplant. Fortunately for you, Starlight, you can do something about it if you want to.
I understand, too, your reticence to get surgery or hormone therapy, even though it has improved tremendously over the years and has become remarkably effective. You are worried about rejection by society and your family. That is a real possibility. The alternative, though, is to remain painfully unhappy and disoriented in a body that doesn’t match who you are.
This bear is unqualified to help you through that process, so I would like too recommend a website to you that offers resources that could help: PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) at www.pflag.org helps not only homosexuals but also transgender people (http://community.pflag.org/transgender) and offers resources that can help. There are chapters around the country and, hopefully, one near you.
Sometimes it takes courage to find happiness, and the path ahead of you will take courage, indeed, to walk upon. The way you cope with it is by finding people who understand and support you and can be there for you when you need them—and, when you are strong enough, you will be able to return the favor.
Gather that support group around you and even if you stumble down the road you will be able to navigate it to your destiny.
I wish you luck,
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.