Dear Papa Bear,
I am a 19 year old transgender, going from male to female. For as long as I can remember I have never thought of myself as a boy only a girl (to the point when I would play pretend I would always be the girl) and I know the operation would make me happy, but I have met great hostility from my friends about it, and I want to tell my parents but fear the same reaction. I don’t know what to do cause I know they will need to know one day but I don’t want to lose them or be treated by them like some of my friends have.
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As my regular readers know by now, Papabear has written several replies to furries and gay people about coming out to parents and family (you can read my responses by clicking here: http://www.askpapabear.com/1/category/coming%20out%20furry/1.html). While being transgendered is a different issue, the principle remains the same: whether you are thinking of getting an operation to change your sex, discovering you are gay, coming out furry, deciding you wish to practice a different religion, or whatever it might be—it is all about the fear of being oneself when doing so means going against what you have been taught is “correct” or “right” or “moral” or “what the family does.”
Whether or not one should be open about who you are depends on your assessment of your own family—whether they are open-minded and kind, or close-minded, ignorant, dominating, and cruel. Only you can make that initial assessment, and, afterwards, make the logical decision, which is not being open if you feel the backlash is going to cause you harm, and going ahead and being open if you have loving, caring parents and family who you know will love you no matter what.
The important thing to remember here, Bastet, is to avoid the pitfall of basing your own self-worth on external opinions. In other words, in your case, don’t decide not to go forward with the operation because someone else tells you it is wrong for some reason. You have said that you know it will make you happy, and so Papabear encourages you to go forward with your plans if that is possible for you to do. It might hurt you that your “friends” oppose it, and even wound you emotionally if your parents do, too, but the alternative is for you to be unhappy in your own skin for the rest of your life.
If I were you, that last choice would make me even more miserable. I can say that out of my own experience. While I’m not getting a sex change operation, figuring out that I was gay at the age of 40 was emotionally painful for me. It turned my world completely upside down. I had to end my marriage to someone I loved because of that, and it broke my heart, but I would have been even more miserable if I had spent the rest of my life pretending I was something I was not.
Life can be a difficult road, no doubt about it. But the only way our lives can count for something is if we live them as we truly are. Otherwise, the entire journey is a lie and has no point.
I cannot make the ultimate choice for you, Bastet, but I hope my words offer a little insight.
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